Lifestyle Ideas

Smart Swaps for High Calorie Fall Drinks

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The onset of weather in a sweater is equivalent to a warm drink to start the day, or a good book for a quiet evening. While a cup of black coffee or tea is a healthy product rich in antioxidants, some classic autumn drinks, such as apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes, can contain a lot of sugar and calories, which can interfere with your weight loss efforts.

These drinks contain sugar in various forms, including flavored syrups, highly processed packaged mixes, and whipped cream. The good news is that these seasonal treats don’t require you to eat cold turkey. “These drinks are liquid comfort foods, and there’s nothing wrong with including such foods in your diet in moderation,” says Amy Gorin, M.D., M.D., a plant-based registered dietitian in the New York area.


One thing to keep in mind: The American Heart Association recommends that men and women consume no more than 36 and 25 grams of sugar per day, respectively. Even the smallest of these drinks often throws it out of the water. On the days you consume these drinks, keep an eye on the rest of your diet to make sure you’re meeting your nutrition goals.

Apple cider is unfiltered apple juice, so it looks more cloudy than regular juice. In some coffee shops, special apple-flavored drinks are prepared from ordinary apple juice, flavored syrup is added to the mixture and seasoned with whipped cream. For example, at Starbucks, it’s his caramel-apple seasoning, and the 16-ounce grande contains an incredible 71 grams of sugar and 380 calories.

Smart solution: instead of reaching for a special drink, enjoy a glass of a real drink of a smaller size. It’s still juice, but reducing the serving size and eliminating excess sugar and whipped cream limits it to 120 calories and 26 grams of sugar. One bonus: It contains 100% of your daily value of vitamin C.

Tea tea is enriched with warm autumn spices such as cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. When ordering a latte with tea from a tea shop in a coffee shop, you will most likely receive steamed milk in combination with tea concentrate from tea (often poured from a box), which contains a lot of sugar. In fact, the Grande Chai tea latte at Starbucks contains 42 grams of sugar. Advantage: “Although you consume extra sugar, you also get nutritional antioxidant properties from tea,” says Gorin, as well as some protein from milk.

Smart solution: ask your barista to choose a smaller size and lean slightly on the concentrate. Another even more useful option: order a simple brewed tea (it is brewed from a tea bag), which does not contain calories and at the same time contains these useful anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Then you can add some of your favorite milk.

Although chocolate contains antioxidants, it often contains added sugar in the form of a drink. For example, the classic Swiss package “Miss” contains 28 grams of sugar and 160 calories (plus other preservatives), and the average hot chocolate from McCafe at McDonald’s, made from skimmed milk, contains 59 grams of sugar and 350 calories. In addition, “unusual” hot chocolate drinks, such as white hot chocolate from Starbucks or hot chocolate with salted caramel, are essentially sugar bombs made from white chocolate or caramel sauce and whipped cream.

Smart solution: Try this hot cocoa recipe to make a cup at home. Choose chocolate with a content of 65% or more (the darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants it contains). You can control how much sweetener you use— because a small serving of maple syrup or a teaspoon of sugar makes a big difference.

“If you fully embrace the season, going from a regular morning latte to a pumpkin spice latte every day, you’re probably doubling (or tripling) the number of calories,” says Gorin. For example, a medium-rare pumpkin spice latte from Dunkin’ contains 340 calories and 55 grams of sugar compared to just 100 calories and 14 grams of sugar in its low-fat medium-rare latte.

Smart solution: If you want it, sprinkle it with whipped cream and sugar. You can also ask for less pumping of pumpkin spice syrup. Or, even better, do it yourself at home. Gorin found a way to make a healthier pumpkin spice latte, containing only 100 calories, 15 grams of sugar and tons of pumpkin flavor.


Pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers are only available for a limited time, so they seem special, but you need to pay attention to the liqueur if you want to participate. “The serving size of beer is 12 ounces for beer with an alcohol content of 5%,” says Gorin. If you’re going to have a drink on the patio this fall, the amount you’ll get at the bar usually exceeds one drink (which means more alcohol and more calories). In some seasonal beers, the alcohol content exceeds 5%, so always check the label on your own to know what you’re getting.

Studies show that not only calories can be a problem, but alcohol also has a profound effect on sleep, disrupting sleep in the second half of the night. Studies show that poor sleep can have such a negative effect on your metabolism, appetite and activity level that you risk gaining weight.

A reasonable solution: when ordering beer, choose beer that comes in a bottle (or bottled in a jar), rather than draught, which ensures that you stick to a 12-ounce serving, Gorin recommends.

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