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Does Iced Coffee Make You Gain Weight? 

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Melissa Mitri post Reviewer Melissa Mitri post Reviewer
Verified by Melissa Mitri
MS, Registered Dietitian, Former President of CT Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Table of Contents

We all love our daily cup of iced coffee, especially in the warmer weather. Since it’s such a popular beverage, you may be wondering if coffee makes you fat. 

This article will answer whether iced coffee can make you gain weight or lose weight and discuss the relationship between caffeine and belly fat. Read on to learn more!

Caffeine and Weight Gain

There is much speculation that exists regarding coffee and belly fat, with many wondering, “Is coffee making me gain weight?” So, let’s dive into the research on this topic to answer this question. 

A meta-analysis published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition compiled the results of 13 randomized controlled trials on the relationship between caffeine and weight loss.

Researchers found that an increased amount of caffeine consumption correlated with a reduction in body weight, fat mass, and body mass index (BMI). [1]

Therefore, there is evidence against coffee making you fat. 

Some Caffeinated Drinks Still Can Contribute to Weight Gain

It is essential to note that it’s the additives in your coffee that can affect your weight.  

A cup of black coffee does not contribute to weight gain, but a sugary coffee beverage can. So, the problem is not in the caffeine but in all the sugars and creamers in your coffee drink.

If you suspect that your coffee is contributing to weight gain, consider the ingredients that you are adding in. 

Drinks with added sugar (such as flavored syrups in espresso drinks) and added saturated fat (such as cream, half and half, or whole milk) are high in calories. Therefore, these coffee drinks can make you gain weight when consumed in excess. 

Here are some coffee beverages that can contribute to weight gain if you drink them too often:

  • Coffee with creamer or half and half
  • Coffee sweetened with packets of sugar
  • Espresso drinks with syrups
  • Drinks with whole milk
  • Frozen coffee beverages (often contain high amounts of added sugar)

Unless they are sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners such as stevia leaf extract or sucralose, most coffee drinks are high in added sugar and fat.

This topic may lead you to wonder about the weight-loss effects of bulletproof coffee, which is coffee combined with MCT oil and butter. While MCT oil can support healthy weight loss, there needs to be more research on the combination of coffee, butter, and MCT oil for weight loss. 

Other Health Problems Linked to High Sugar Intake

The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 25 grams or six teaspoons of added sugar for women and 36 grams or nine teaspoons for men. [2]

This is because too much sugar in the diet can contribute to many chronic health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes. Therefore, limiting your added sugar consumption in your beverages and diet, in general, is essential. Moreover, eliminating sugar completely also brings many health benefits — learn more about sugar fast benefits in our article.

Additionally, coffee beverages that include cream, half and half, whole milk, etc., are often high in saturated fat as well. Saturated fats can increase the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. [3]

Therefore, the AHA recommends consuming no more than 5-6% of your daily calories as saturated fat. For example, if you need 2,000 calories per day, it is recommended that you limit your saturated fat intake to 120 calories or 13 grams. 

Coffee, Cortisol, and Belly Fat

There is also much speculation about the correlation between high cortisol levels and weight gain, specifically abdominal fat.

Cortisol is a hormone released in the body in higher than usual amounts during stress. It also plays a role in immune system functioning, inflammatory response, and metabolism regulation. Cortisol can affect almost every bodily system through its many functions. [4]

A study published in Physiological Reviews showed that Cushing’s syndrome, which involves excessively high cortisol levels, often leads to abdominal obesity. Abdominal obesity is an unhealthy amount of fat in the body’s abdominal region. [5]

However, coffee consumption in healthy individuals did not significantly impact cortisol levels.

Since cortisol is increased during situations of stress, it is important to note that this study occurred in non-stressful conditions to result in confounding variables. [6]

So, does coffee make you gain belly fat due to high cortisol? Well, research suggests that high cortisol levels are related to abdominal obesity. However, recent studies show that coffee itself does not increase cortisol in non-stress conditions. 

So, Can Iced Coffee Make You Gain Weight?

Considering this article’s main question, we can conclude that iced coffee (by itself) cannot make you gain weight. In fact, it may even promote weight loss. 

The same can also be said for hot coffee, as studies do not tend to differentiate between the hot and iced versions in their methodology. 

However, this does not apply when it comes to common coffee additives, such as creamer, sugar, syrups, milk, and others. These added ingredients can work against weight loss by providing extra calories, fat, and sugar in your drink. To avoid that, try some easy swaps to reduce the fat, calories, and added sugars in your daily coffee.

If you are struggling to lose weight, speaking with a registered dietitian nutritionist can provide you with individualized nutrition education and advice for healthy weight loss. Additionally, an all-in-one weight-loss app can offer guidance, support, and accountability for your weight-loss goals.

Try These Iced Coffee Recipes for Weight Loss

We have already mentioned that iced coffee can be high in calories, fat, and added sugars. However, there’s no need to worry, as there are some simple recipe swaps to help you reduce the calories, sugar, and fat in your iced coffee.

  • Instead of cream, half and half, or whole milk, use 1% or skim milk to reduce the saturated fat content of your beverage.
  • Use unsweetened almond milk, soy milk, or another non-dairy milk alternative. Try unsweetened chocolate almond milk for a do-it-yourself iced mocha at home!
  • Instead of sugar or sugary syrups, sweeten your coffee with a calorie-free sugar substitute, such as stevia leaf extract, sucralose, or monk fruit extract.

Note that the list above does not mention drinking plain black coffee! If you love black coffee, then go for it, but you do not have to drink your coffee black if you don’t want to. 

It’s okay to enjoy your coffee sweet and creamy if you like it that way, especially when using some of these easy substitutions. 

Final Words

Let’s summarize some of the key takeaways that we have discussed in this article. 

  • Studies have shown that caffeine consumption can actually promote weight loss, not weight gain.
  • Common coffee additives — such as creamer, sugar, syrups, and milk — can contribute to weight gain (or prevent weight loss) because they contain excess calories, fat, and added sugars. 
  • Cortisol is a stress hormone that is correlated with increased abdominal fat or belly fat.
  • However, a study suggests that coffee consumption (in a non-stressed environment) does not raise cortisol levels in healthy individuals. 
  • In conclusion, whether it’s hot or iced, coffee itself does not make you gain weight. However, the coffee additives you choose can.
  • Substituting some of your coffee additives for healthier alternatives can help prevent weight gain or promote weight loss if that is your goal. 
  • Speak with a registered dietitian nutritionist for individualized advice for weight loss or weight maintenance. 
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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