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Smarter Hot Beverage Choices for Winter

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Nothing beats a hot beverage on a cold winter day! Did you know that our choice of beverage can greatly increase our caloric intake? We don’t realize it, but a standard beverage can hold up to 500 calories. That’s if we do limit ourselves to only one!

Here is a look at some popular drinks:

Beverage (12 oz.: 355 ml) Calories






Hot chocolate (Second Cup)1 383 18 42
White Mocha (Second Cup)1 403 22 37
Salted Caramel Mocha (Starbucks)2 360 13 45
White chocolate mocha (Starbucks)3 370 15 46
French Vanilla Cappuccino (Tim Hortons)4 309 10 38

The good news? You can still stay warm this winter by making few adjustments.

Swipe out the fats

Most drinks are made with whole milk, cream, and added whipped cream. This adds flavour and gives thema rich creamy texture.

For a smarter choice:

  • Ask for skimmed milk or low-fat milk (0-2% M.F. [milk fat])
  • Omit the whipped cream or ask for half the amount
  • Try almond or soy milk for a twist
  • Replace 10% cream for 2% milk

Look out for added sugars

The American Heart Association recommends not to exceed 45g of added sugars for men (9 teaspoons) and 30g for women (6 teaspoons) a day.5 The large amount of sugar in flavoured beverages comes from the added syrup.

For a smarter choice:

  • Ask for sugar-free syrups
  • Choose non-flavoured beverages & add the desired amount of sugar yourself
  • Replace chocolate milk with cocoa powder (you can add sugar yourself)
  • Add cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder, vanilla extract or cocoa powder to flavour your drink

One sugar sachet has 15 g of sugar, so depending on the amount you add, you can save 50-75% of the original amount.

Choose a smaller format!

Enjoying your favourite hot beverage from time to time is part of a balanced diet. A smarter option would be to go for a small format instead of the larger ones. Remember, it’s all a question of balance.

And you, how do you enjoy your hot beverage?


Joelle Khairallah, P.Dt., M.Sc.


1 Second cup. Second Cup Nutritional Facts. 2012. http://cdn.agilitycms.com/dine-on-campus/UofTorontoMiss/Documents/Nutritional_Summary.pdf
2 Starbucks Coffee. Espresso Beverages. Salted Caramel Mocha. 2015.
3 Starbucks Coffee. Nutrition by the Cup. 2011. http://globalassets.starbucks.com/assets/7cd1d989cd0c4ddba75b22d53f7af8bc.pdf
4 Tim Hortons. Nutrition and wellness. Nutrition guide. 2014. http://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/pdf/Tim_Hortons_Nutrition_Guide_-_Canada_English.pdf
5 American Heart Association. Added sugars. 2015.  http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Added-Sugars_UCM_305858_Article.jsp#

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Joelle Khairallah, Dt.P., M.Sc.

B.Sc. in Nutrition and Dietetics, Université Notre-Dame-de-Louaizé / M.Sc. in Human Nutrition, McGill University / Nutritionist at Nautilus Plus since October 2013

Smarter Hot Beverage Choices for Winteris a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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