The best part of waking up each morning is a hot cup of coffee. However, what you add to your coffee each day could be sabotaging your health goals.
Besides the added empty calories, many processed creamers contain unhealthy chemicals like hydrogenated fats, artificial flavors and sweeteners, and preservatives. While they might taste good, they add no value to your diet.
You might be thinking, “I just use a small amount of coffee creamer” — but even just a few tablespoons of creamer per day can result in a shocking amount of added calories and sugar to your diet.
For example, a typically sweetened coffee creamer contains around 35 calories and 5 grams of added sugar per tablespoon.
Let’s say you use 2 tablespoons of creamer per cup of coffee and you have 2 cups of coffee per day. That 4 tablespoons of creamer per day add up to 140 calories and 20 grams of sugar.
The good news is that there are healthier ingredients you can add to your coffee that may even boost metabolism and weight loss. One delicious, no-added-sugar option is coffee with cocoa powder.
If you prefer a raw, unprocessed product you can use cacao powder. This antioxidant-rich superfood is made from cacao beans. Just a small amount of cocoa powder will give your coffee a deep, rich cocoa flavor.
Cocoa Powder Nutrition
You can use either unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder in your coffee. Both come from the cacao plant. Cocoa powder is more processed and the high heat during processing destroys some of the nutrients. Cacao powder is minimally processed and the lack of heat treatment preserves the nutrients and makes it a raw product.
1 tbsp. of natural/unsweetened cocoa powder contains:
- 12 calories
- 0.5 grams of fat
- 3 grams carbohydrates
- 0 grams of added sugar
- 2 grams of fiber.
Cocoa Powder Benefits
- Cocoa is loaded with minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber
- It is especially rich in calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc
- The flavonoids and other antioxidants in cocoa may reduce inflammation (5)
- The positive effects of cocoa on neurotransmitters may help to improve mood and energy (4)
- Cocoa may help boost metabolism and weight loss (3)
- Cocoa may reduce body fat and improve body composition (2)
Studies have shown that including cocoa in your diet may actually help speed up metabolism and weight loss. A recent study showed that dark chocolate supplementation elevated the resting energy expenditure in exercise-trained females.
Another recent study found that cocoa-supplemented mice had lower rates of body weight gain. The cocoa-treated mice also had lower rates of inflammation. The researcher proposed that the compounds in the cocoa powder may prevent the digestion and absorption of dietary fat.
How to Make Coffee with Cocoa
The best way to add cocoa powder to your coffee to prevent clumping is to first add the powder to your mug. Then add a small amount of coffee and stir to form a thick paste. Then add the rest of the coffee.
Because cocoa powder results in a rich flavor it may be best to start with a smaller amount, such as 1 teaspoon, and increase as desired.
When shopping for cocoa powder or cacao powder look for unsweetened, natural products — organic if possible. This reduces the chance of consuming pesticides or other unhealthy chemical additives.
This easy coffee with cocoa powder recipe is a perfect way to get your day off to a healthy start. This recipe makes 1 cup of coffee.
- 4 oz. strong coffee
- 1 tsp. cocoa powder or cacao powder (start with 1 tsp. and increase if you want a deeper chocolatey flavor)
- 4 oz. unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
- dash of cinnamon
- no-calorie sweetener like stevia (optional)
Use a saucepan for this recipe since you will need to whisk the ingredients together. Start by adding the coffee to the saucepan and heat over medium-low heat.
First, whisk in the cocoa powder and then add the milk and cinnamon. Add a few drops of stevia if you desire sweetness and enjoy!
Avoid Cocoa Coffee If…
If you are trying to lower your caffeine intake this drink may not be for you. You do have the option of using decaf coffee, which would significantly lower the caffeine content. However, there is still some naturally occurring caffeine from cocoa.
Small changes to your diet can have a huge impact, like replacing high-sugar coffee creamers with healthier ingredients like cocoa powder. This seemingly small switch will save you thousands of calories over time.
Plus you get the added health benefits from cocoa, which can have positive effects on metabolism, body composition, mood, energy, and inflammation.
Make sure that when you shop for the cocoa powder you look for unsweetened, high-quality varieties.
- Latif R. Health benefits of cocoa. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Nov;16(6):669-74. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328365a235. PMID: 24100674. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24100674/
- Garcia-Merino, JA, et.al. Chronic flavanol-rich cocoa powder supplementation reduces body fat mass in endurance athletes by modifying the follistatin/myostatin ratio and leptin levels. Food and Function, 2020 March;11, 3441-3450. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2020/FO/D0FO00246A#!divAbstract
- Presler KM, Webster MJ. Dark Chocolate Supplementation Elevates Resting Energy Expenditure in Exercise Trained Females. Int J Exerc Sci. 2021 Apr 1;14(2):250-259. PMID: 34055151; PMCID: PMC8136603. https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2929&context=ijes
- Scholey A, Owen L. Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2013 Oct;71(10):665-81. doi: 10.1111/nure.12065. PMID: 24117885. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24117885/
- Sun M, Gu Y, Glisan SL, Lambert JD. Dietary cocoa ameliorates non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and increases markers of antioxidant response and mitochondrial biogenesis in high fat-fed mice. J Nutr Biochem. 2021 Jun;92:108618. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2021.108618. Epub 2021 Mar 9. PMID: 33711421. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0955286321000383?via=ihub