Going on a low-carb diet means making big changes to your dietary habits, including giving up bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and sweets. Many beverages also contain too many carbohydrates to be part of a low-carb diet, including soft drinks, fruit punches, pure fruit juices, energy drinks, chocolate milk, yogurt drinks and many alcoholic drinks. Coffee is one of the most commonly consumed beverages. If you feel like you can’t function without your java, you may be wondering how coffee fits into a low-carb diet.
Coffee and Carb Content
Black coffee, whether it is filtered, espresso or decaffeinated, does not contain any calories nor carbohydrates and is suitable for a low-carb diet. You can add small amounts of cream, which contains 0.5 g of carbs per 1 tbsp. on average, but check the label to be sure. Each packet of sugar adds 4 g of carbs, and 1 tbsp. of milk has about 1 g of carbs. Specialty coffees have a large amount of sugar added to them, making their carb content reach 12 to 59 g per 16-oz. serving — and up to 80 g with whipped cream.
If you used to have a cup of mocha, caramel latte or other sweetened and high-carb coffee beverage on a regular basis, going to the coffee shop to order a black coffee may be difficult for you and the temptation to have your sweet coffee may be great. Even if you prepare your own coffee at home, drinking black coffee, if you are not used to it, could trigger carb cravings just because you have previously associated the taste of coffee with sweetness. There is nothing wrong with including carb-free coffee in your low-carb diet, but pay attention to how you feel to make sure coffee doesn’t trigger carb cravings.
Many low-carb dieters use artificial sweeteners, or sugar substitutes, in their coffee to satisfy their sweet tooth without impacting their carb count. Although artificial sweeteners do not contain any carbohydrates and are suitable for a low-carb diet, they contribute to maintaining your sweet tooth and can make you crave sweets or starchy foods. Some people also experience weight loss plateaus when using artificial sweeteners in the context of a low-carb diet. Judge for yourself. Notice if you have frequent carb cravings or if you are unable to lose weight. If this is the case, try eliminating artificial sweeteners to relieve your cravings and help you resume your weight loss.
Kick the Coffee Habit
Black, espresso or decaffeinated coffee, with or without cream and artificial sweeteners, is usually allowed on a low-carb diet. However, if you believe that your coffee habit is hindering your progress on your low-carb diet, whether by maintaining your desire for sweets and carbs or by impairing your weight loss, try cutting coffee from your diet for a few weeks. Replace coffee with tea and herbal tea if you prefer hot beverages, or tap or soda water with a twist of lemon or lime juice.