How To Make Your Coffee Order Healthier

Want to hit your health and fitness goal but don’t want to give up your daily coffee? You don’t have too!
Posted on Apr 07, 2021 By Valentina Duong Valentina Duong

Coffee can be a healthy part of your daily diet. As a matter of a fact, coffee can even reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

The largest reduction in risk of developing cardiovascular disease or a stroke occurred in individuals that had three to five cups of coffee per day!

1. Want to fill fuller for longer?

Increase the protein content of your coffee by choosing cows milk or soy milk.

If you are choosing cows milk, you might be surprised to know that skim milk (9.5g protein per 250 mL serving) has just as much protein as full cream milk, without the extra calories and fat.

Similarly, soy milk has 8g of protein per 250mL serving, which is four times more than almond milk (2g of protein per 250mL serving). You might be surprised to find that rice milk and coconut milk have minimal amounts of protein and are not good alternatives to cow’s milk.

2. Stop skipping breakfast for coffee

It’s no secret that a cup of coffee can leave you feeling energised, improve your concentration and even improve your training performance and endurance. BUT – the energy boost is only temporary.

Coffee can be a great snack or pick-me-up; however, it is not an adequate substitute for breakfast. The reason for this is that without protein, slow digesting carbohydrates and healthy fat, coffee can just lead to a big burst in energy and a sudden crash or energy slump.

In addition to your morning cup of coffee, choose a breakfast with a good dose of fibre, wholegrains and protein for long-lasting energy. If you’re stuck on ideas, an eggs muffin or yoghurt and muesli are quick, easy and well-balanced meal options. Bonus points if you can sneak in some veggies into your egg muffins – capsicum, spinach, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes all work well!

Remember, coffee is a part of a healthy breakfast – not the entire breakfast! The picture above is filled with healthy omega 3 fats from the smoked salmon and olive oil. A good dose of protein is in the two poached eggs and smoked salmon. You might be surprised to find that sourdough is a healthy white bread – it’s a low-glycaemic index carbohydrate which means it keeps you feeling fuller for longer and helps you feel energised by keeping your blood sugars stable. Of course, don’t forget the veggies – rocket and spinach were my choice this time!

3. Do you have fat loss goals?

You can reduce your energy intake by skipping the creamer, milk and sugar.

Not ready to go for a long black (an espresso shot with water added)?

You can swap to a lower calorie milk such as skim milk or almond milk.

Alternatively, you could grab a mini-sized coffee. A piccolo is an espresso shot with a dash of milk added in a 90mL glass.

4. Plant-based?

Look for calcium fortified soy, almond, oat or rice milk.

Aim for plant-based milks with a minimum of 250mg of calcium per 250mL serving. These plant-based milks mimic the nutritional profile of cow’s milk which is a great source of calcium for strong bones and teeth.

You might be surprised to find that some of your favourite soy and almond milk brands aren’t fortified in calcium, including BonSoy and MilkLab. Fortunately, popular supermarket brands, VitaSoy and So Good are fortified in calcium. Cow’s milk is also a good source of B12 – so where possible, aim for a plant-based milk that is fortified in B12.

Can you guess my favourite coffee order?

It’s an extra large soy latte! In addition to being higher in protein than other plant-based milks, soy milk is also higher in omega 3 fatty acids that are important for brain health. It’s even been linked to lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.[1]

5. Worried about the added sugar in plant-based milks?

Many brands of soy milk, almond milk, oat milk and rice milk do have some refined sugars added, such as raw sugar or cane sugar. Look for plant-based milks that have under 8.5g of sugar per 250mL serving (this is the equivalent of 2 teaspoons).

The World Health Organisation recommends free sugars to be less than 10% of total energy intake (less than 12 teaspoons) for both adults and children.

They further recommend that limiting it to less than 5% of total energy intake (under 6 teaspoons) would reduce the risk of dental caries.[2]

Keep in mind that most of the refined sugars are actually coming from any creams, sugar syrups or chocolate added into the coffee – rather than the milk.

6. Working or studying late at night?

While drinking coffee might make you feel more alert and get rid of that headache, it can interfere with your sleep[3].

Don’t forget that coffee isn’t the only thing that contains caffeine.

No sugar soft drinks, pre-workout supplements, teas and even chocolate contain caffeine. It all adds up and can affect a good night’s sleep.

If you are experiencing high levels of anxiety, jitteriness or interrupted sleep, consider reducing your total coffee intake and keep it far away from bedtime.

As a rule of thumb, having coffee before midday is a good way to avoid it affecting you later at night.

There is research showing that black coffee with 100mg caffeine can increase alertness and mood, while reducing fatigue, tiredness, and headaches.

The downsides are that too much coffee can increase jitteriness and interfere with sleep. The caffeine in coffee can also aggravate or trigger reflux in some individuals.

How much coffee is safe?

High consumption of caffeine can also be harmful during pregnancy and is associated with an increased risk of low birth weight and miscarriage[4].

It can also exacerbate reflux in some individuals. If this is the case, you may want to try cold brew coffee which is lower in caffeine.

If that doesn’t work, swapping to decaffeinated coffee or herbal teas may help reduce the reflux symptoms.

References
Ramdath, D. D., Padhi, E. M., Sarfaraz, S., Renwick, S., & Duncan, A. M. (2017). Beyond the Cholesterol-Lowering Effect of Soy Protein: A Review of the Effects of Dietary Soy and Its Constituents on Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients, 9(4), 324. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9040324
Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2015. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241549028
Haskell-Ramsay, C. F., Jackson, P. A., Forster, J. S., Dodd, F. L., Bowerbank, S. L., & Kennedy, D. O. (2018). The Acute Effects of Caffeinated Black Coffee on Cognition and Mood in Healthy Young and Older Adults. Nutrients, 10(10), 1386. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10101386
Maternal Caffeine Consumption during Pregnancy and Risk of Low Birth Weight: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. Rhee J, Kim R, Kim Y, Tam M, Lai Y, Keum N, Oldenburg CE PLoS One. 2015; 10(7):e0132334.
Valentina Duong
Valentina Duong
A nutritionist and powerlifter with numerous first place finishes at national and international competitions. Valentina's rediscovering joy, one snack at a time.
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