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How Many Calories Are in Your Coffee Cup?

It's easy to focus on the big things when trying to cut calories out of your diet. Cut carbs, eat more fruit, skip dessert and hope it all pays off. However, one major caloric contribution tends to be overlooked, often to dieters' displeasure. Coffee - or to be more accurate, coffeehouses - can add hundreds of calories to your daily intake without you even noticing it. Fortunately, the problem isn't with coffee itself, but with the ways that people tend to prepare their morning cup, and the solution is just to keep it simple.

Sipping on Sugar 
Many people rely on coffee to get them moving in the morning, but the jolt from some beverages may be a sugar rush as much as a caffeine boost. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume a maximum of 20 grams of sugar per day and men max out at about 37.5 grams. However, some coffee drinks from national restaurant chains may put you over that limit by breakfast.

When Men's Health magazine published a collection of the worst coffee drinks for your health in 2009, they found that many overshot the AHA's recommended amounts of sugar by dozens of grams. Even the least sugar-loaded drink of the bunch, a large mocha from McDonald's, was found to contain 49 grams of sugar, more than twice the maximum amount suggested for women. It only got worse from there, with some drinks, such as Dunkin Donuts' frozen cappuccino with whole milk, topping 100 grams of sugar.

High-Calorie Coffee 
Coffeehouse drinks don't always do better when it comes to calories. According to Starbucks, the seasonal favorite pumpkin spice latte, even in its mid-sized 16-ounce incarnation, is packed with 310 calories, or more than 10 percent of most people's recommended daily calorie intake. Even that isn't the worst offender, as the chain's 16-ounce white chocolate mocha tips the scales at 400 calories. Once you move from more traditional espresso drinks to the store's blended offerings, things get even bleaker.

Cutting Back
However, that doesn't mean that you have to abandon your morning coffee altogether - a doomed suggestion if there ever was one. Instead, use a coffee maker at home, so you know exactly what goes into your drink, and stick to the basics. According to the Mayo Clinic, plain coffee clocks in at a negligible 2 calories per cup. Even adding 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream and sugar would bring the drink just above 100 calories. A better option would be to take your coffee black. If you can't stomach that, a splash of fat-free milk will lighten things up and still leave your drink under 10 calories.