For me, there’s absolutely nothing better than my first cup of coffee in the morning.
I like it nearly the second I get out of bed.
I also — embarrassingly — kind of like it with a decent amount of milk and sugar.
Besides, as some might accuse me of, butchering the natural taste of the coffee beans with added flavors, putting too much extra stuff in your coffee comes at an additional cost:
But I recently started doing Intermittent Fasting to lose some fat (read about how I dropped over 15 pounds of pure fat), and IF calls for only drinking black coffee in the morning. Those extra sugar and milk calories had to go!
So if you’re like me and prefer your coffee taste like a milkshake, but need to cut those calories, let’s dive into how to drink black coffee for weight loss, the benefits, and which brands of black coffee are good for beginners.
Basically, here are the steps to drinking black coffee and enjoying it:
- Calculate the extra calories from milk and sugar (and feel disgusted)
- Read up on the benefits of black coffee (and feel motivated!)
- Slowly decrease your milk and sugar
- Eventually, go cold turkey
- Experiment with different blends until you find your new favorite
- Build the black coffee habit over the next few months
- Boom, you did it!
First, what is black coffee?
If you’re a total coffee virgin, this term might confuse you. But trust me, it’s simple.
Black coffee is any coffee that hasn’t had anything added to it.
You could also call it plain coffee or regular coffee — they’re the same thing.
When someone orders a cup of black coffee at a Starbucks, for example, they’re asking the barista to literally pour plain coffee directly into their cup without adding or manipulating anything.
It’s called ‘black’ because the color of plain coffee is usually quite dark.
So now that we have that out of the way…
Calories in coffee, sugar, milk, and creamer
Let’s start with the basics:
Just how many calories are in a cup of coffee? And what about all those sweet, tasty extras we like so much?
Calories in a cup of coffee: 1
According to the USDA, the standard cup of regular coffee has just one, measly calorie in it. That’s pretty awesome, and probably exactly why you’re here reading this article on black coffee for weight loss!
Calories in milk: 25-50
A full glass of lowfat milk has about 100 calories. Depending on how much you like in your coffee, anywhere from a splash to a big pour, you’re looking at adding around 25-50.
Calories in sugar: 16/teaspoon
Here’s where things start to really add up. With about 16 calories in 1 teaspoon of sugar, those of us with a sweettooth can easily add 45 or more calories to each cup of coffee by using sugar. If you’re keeping track, that uber-low calorie morning beverage with milk and sugar is now somewhere between 50-100 calories per cup (and who only wants one cup?)
Calories in coffee creamer: 15-45/teaspoon
Milk and sugar is great, but you know what really tastes good? Yummy flavored creamers like french vanilla, hazelnut, and pumpkin spice. Too bad those sticky-sweet additives carry another couple dozen calories per teaspoon.
So… you can definitely see why black coffee is beneficial for weight loss. Most experts agree a calorie deficit of 300-500 calories per day is all you need to lose weight safely and consistently, so cutting a few hundred from your morning coffee routine could go a really long way.
But that’s not the only benefit to going black with your java.
Benefits of black coffee
Lest you think that the best way to cut coffee calories is to just stop drinking it altogether, there are actually a TON of great benefits to the stuff, from mental functioning, to physical health, and more:
- Almost no-calories
- High in antioxidants – reduces inflammation and reduces risk of heart disease
- Could (possibly) help prevent a number of diseases, including cancer
- Improves alertness and fights fatigue
- Improves memory and mental functioning
Not to mention, learning to like black coffee is absurdly convenient. There will never be a time or place where you can’t grab a cup of coffee because they don’t have your special blend, or you don’t have your favorite creamer with you.
(True story: I used to know someone who carried around powdered coffee creamer in her purse. Uhhhh….)
Drinking black coffee will save you time in the morning, and make your life way easier at hotels and restaurants.
Drinking black coffee is also kind of a power move. People just sort of respect you more when you take your coffee black.
OK. So you’re sold, right? Drinking coffee is a good thing, and if we can bring those calories down, weight loss should be a breeze.
But what if you think black coffee is yucky, but you still want to try it?
Here’s what ya do:
How to train yourself to drink & like black coffee
Black coffee, like beer, wine, and liquor, is… an acquired taste.
To the uninitiated, it can be bitter yet bland at the same time, harsh yet mild. If you’re used to smooth, creamy, and sweet coffee, going black can be quite an adjustment.
But here are a few tips that might help you take the plunge:
Progressively decrease milk and sugar
This is an extremely common and effective way to acclimate yourself to black coffee.
Tomorrow, instead of a big splash of milk, try a little splash. Instead of 3 teaspoons of sugar, try 2. Then continue to dial back bit by bit until you’re ready to take it black.
Think of it as sitting on the edge of the pool with your toes in the water, and slowly adjusting to the cold temperature. When you finally do jump in, it’ll still be a shock, but you’ll at least be a little more prepared for it.
Go cold turkey
On the other hand, just freaking do it, man.
Just jump in.
This is actually what I did. And my first few sips the first morning of drinking black coffee for weight loss were… tough.
But I got used to it really quickly (much like jumping into a pool).
You can choose to go cold turkey from the very beginning, or start cutting back (as outlined above) before ripping the band aid off. Eventually, you’re going to have to go for it and adjust along the way.
Try flavored coffees and different brew styles
If you’re struggling with the change, maybe you’re just not drinking the right coffee.
Coffee is a lot like wine… it carries a lot of complexity in the form of subtle notes, flavors, and aromas. Coffees from different kinds of beans, grown in different regions, can be vastly different.
Maybe put aside the Maxwell House and try some different stuff. Try french vanilla roasts, hazelnut roasts. Try dark roasts, French press, light roasts, and breakfast blends. Try fruity roasts. Try creamy roasts.
Just keep experimenting and don’t assume that the same coffee you loved with milk and sugar will also be your favorite for drinking black.
Try fresh-grinding your own beans
Experts say that freshness plays a huge role in the drinkability of your coffee. If you find that prepackaged grounds just aren’t doing it for you, consider buying some high quality beans and grinding them yourself right before you’re ready to brew.
That kind of next-level freshness can help bring out some really fantastic flavors and help you enjoy the experience more.
The best black coffee for beginners
I just got done telling you how you should experiment with the literally endless varieties of coffees, brew styles, and flavored roasts, so it’s hard to recommend the best coffee brands for drinking black.
But if you’re a complete newbie and just want to start somewhere, at least work your way through most of what you’ll find at the local grocery before moving on to specialty beans and local-only brews.
Here are some of the best options:
Starbucks is a known quantity, and this blend is perfect for beginners. (You may have been drinking coffee for a long time, but if you’re not accustomed to its true natural flavors, you’re a beginner!)
Veranda is light and smooth, with flavors of cocoa and nuts.
This is actually my personal favorite and what I drink most mornings.
Donut Shop coffee is extremely popular, for a reason, and it’s reasonably priced. Their original blend has a perfect middle ground flavor (not too bold, not too light and tangy) for new coffee drinkers.
It’s also known for being smooth and a little on the naturally sweet side, which makes it perfect for anyone who’s just getting into black coffee.
If you’re looking for something a little bolder, try Peets French Roast.
It’s a darker brew of very high quality, but shouldn’t taste too bitter or be too difficult to drink. People describe it as rich and full-bodied.
Peets should be a great fit if you’ve found the other beginner coffees on this list don’t have quite enough pop for your taste buds.
What to do if you just really, really can’t get used to black coffee (or how to sweeten black coffee without sugar or creamer)
If you’ve tried everything and you just can’t get into doing this every morning, you have a couple of options.
You can sweeten your coffee with a variety of things that may add fewer calories overall than real milk and sugar, including:
- Artificial sweeteners (Stevia, Sweet n’ Low, etc.)
- Sugar free coffee creamer
- Coconut milk or cream
There are lots of things you can try in your coffee to make it more tolerable while bringing the calories down. (You could even just get yourself used to a very small splash of milk and a hint of sugar, without going totally black.)
If that doesn’t work, try tea! Breakfast teas can be really delicious and you may find them a better low-calorie option for your palette.
The benefits of dropping milk, sugar, and creamer from your coffee are vast. Namely, it’s a terrific way to cut calories from your diet and make progress toward your overall weight loss goals.
Transitioning to black coffee isn’t necessarily easy, but there is a lot of great flavor and complexity to be enjoyed once you get there. Don’t think of it as a sacrifice, but instead as a chance to start getting to know coffee the way you would fine wine.
What does black coffee taste like?
This is a hard one to answer! Every brand and variety will be a little bit different and have its own distinct characteristics.
For me, black coffee is a little bitter, usually creamy, and often has distant notes of fruit or chocolate.
But that’s just my (admittedly underdeveloped) palate talking, and is heavily influenced by the brands I buy (see above).
I urge you to try it yourself and see what you taste. You may have to get used to black coffee for a while before you can really start to pick up the unique flavors.
How to start liking coffee (in general)
For me, and I think this is true of most people, I first came around on coffee due to putting a high volume of milk and sugar into it.
(Or a sugary sweet creamer, like Vanilla.)
I didn’t begin enjoying coffee until I was in my 20s (think of all the time I missed), and the only way I could choke it down was if I sweetened the crap out of it.
Coffee has so many benefits for your health, so if nothing else, that’s a decent place to start.
But I’d urge you to start bringing down the milk and sugar content in your coffee as soon as you’re able (especially the sugar). It’s a tough way to start the day with all of that junk sitting in your stomach.
Even if you never go fully black, learn to take your coffee with just a splash of milk and sugar, or maybe just some cinnamon. It’ll go a long way toward keeping you healthy!