You’re oh so cozy in bed, when all of a sudden, that piercing and horribly annoying alarm goes off. As you stumble to hit snooze, you let out an audible, “Nooo!”
You punch the blankets to the side and walk like a zombie straight to your coffee machine as if your waking life depended on it.
As a coffee lover and nutrition professional who’s obsessed with learning the health benefits of what we consume, I had to brew up the best coffee creamers for health and weight loss.
So what are the best coffee creamers for weight loss?
Half and half
Califia Farms Unsweetened Better Half
Unsweetened Plant-Based Milk
If your goal is weight loss, then your coffee creamer should not contain trans fats, artificial chemicals, excessive sugar, or fillers such as carrageenan.
Each of the options we’ll present in this article can be guaranteed to have lower amounts of these ingredients, and subsequently, calories — especially when compared with conventional coffee creamers.
So let’s grab a cup of coffee (or three) and get buzzed on everything you need to know about coffee creamers for weight loss.
Dangers of Coffee Creamers
Coffee itself is full of health-boosting chemicals and qualities. But what you pour into it can quickly cancel out these helpers. It can also wreak havoc on a healthy weight loss plan.
The problem with many coffee creamers is that most of them aren’t even made with cream. Instead, they get that rich and creamy texture from thickening ingredients and emulsifiers such as carrageenan.
There has been controversy around carrageenan. Some evidence suggests that it triggers inflammation and damages your digestive system. Since research is inconclusive, it’s best to either minimize or avoid it.
When eaten in moderation, and as a part of a healthy diet, a bit of natural sugar is fine. But problems occur when you consume too much added sugar, such as the type in sweetened coffee creamers.
According to Harvard Health, excess sugar not only has an impact on weight gain, obesity, and diabetes, it’s also is associated with a greater risk of dying from heart disease.
The American Heart Association suggests that men consume no more than 150 calories (about 9 tsp) of added sugar per day and 100 calories (about 6 tsp) for women, per day.
Some studies have suggested that artificial sweeteners may cause weight gain, changes in the natural balance of gut bacteria, and even increase the risk for type 2 diabetes.
There are also concerns that they reinforce the sweet taste, potentially leading to more intense and more often cravings for sugar.
Research is inconclusive but to be safe, it’s best to moderate or minimize consumption of them.
The small classic cups of creamer found on dinner tables, last about 9 months while those powdered versions will last for up to 24 months at room temperature! This is due to heat treatment and unhealthy partially hydrogenated oils.
When oils are hydrogenated, hydrogen molecules are added to change the texture and extend the shelf life of the product (how long until it goes bad).
The problem is that this processing changes the fat into a dangerous form. Studies show that this type of fat can lead to blood sugar issues, provoke inflammation, and increase the bad blood cholesterol levels (LDL) while decreasing the good ones (HDL).
Related Article: Is Peanut Butter Good For Weight Loss?
The 7 Best Coffee Creamers for Weight Loss
Now that we’ve reviewed what you should be avoiding in coffee creamers, we’re going to pour out our picks for the seven best coffee creamers for weight loss.
Since health and weight management go hand in hand, we’ve based this list off of a mix of lower-calorie creamers and the ones that are more natural.
1. HALF AND HALF
Half and half is half whole milk and half heavy cream. It’s high in calories and fat, but it comes from very natural sources.
Since some fat in your diet can be satiating — keeping you full for longer — it may help prevent future cravings.
But since it’s higher in calories (9 calories per gram) than protein or fat sources (4 calories per gram), it’s important to moderate the amount you use.
When you have half and half, try to aim for organic versions whenever possible.
Recent studies, such as one in the British Journal of Nutrition, show that organic milk contains about 50% higher levels of omega-3 and had lower concentrations of saturated fats when compared to conventional products.
They also don’t contain antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMOs.
Nutrition facts (1 Tbsp): 20 calories, 1.8g fat, 0.5g carb, 0.3g protein
Ingredients: Pasture-raised milk and organic cream.
Milk is one of the best options you can add to your coffee. It has a balance of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) and contains many vitamins and minerals.
Milk can be considered the perfect muscle-building drink. It supports muscle growth and replenishes depleted glycogen stores after intense exercise.
Learn more here: Is Milk Bad For Bodybuilding? (5 Things To Consider).
Adding a dash of milk can also help your bones. According to American Bone Health, caffeine may modestly reduce calcium absorption (by about 4 mg per cup) but this can be offset by adding just 1-2 tablespoons of milk.
In terms of choosing non-fat, low-fat, or whole, this depends on preference and also how strict your calorie goal is.
Nutrition facts (1 Tbsp): 10 calories, 0.5g fat, 0.7g carb, 0.5g protein.
Ingredients: Grade A Organic Milk, Vitamin D3
Oatly is made from rapeseed (a bright-yellow flowering member of the mustard or cabbage family) and oats. It contains heart-healthy beta-glucans with no added sugar.
Oatly products are all plant-based, sustainable, and contain no GMOs.
Oatly also comes in a barista’s edition, meaning if you enjoy your coffee in cappuccino or latte form, this milk substitute will foam without being too light or too heavy.
Nutrition facts (1 Tbsp): 35 calories, 0.5g fat, 1g carbs, 0.25g protein
Ingredients: Oat base (water, oats 10%), rapeseed oil, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphates, iodized salt, vitamins (D2, riboflavin, B12).
4. NUTPODS ORIGINAL
Nutpods contain a combination of coconut and almond “cream” with minimal stabilizers. It doesn’t contain sugar, gluten, soy or dairy. These are acceptable for keto, Whole30, vegan, and gluten-free diets.
They come in different flavors such as hazelnut and vanilla. However, since they are non-sweetened, keep in mind that the flavor can be quite neutral.
Nutrition facts (1Tbsp) Original Version: 10 calories, 1g fat, 0g carbs, 0g protein
Ingredients: Water, coconut cream, almonds, acacia gum, dipotassium phosphate, sunflower lecithin, sea salt, gellan gum.
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5. CALIFIA FARMS UNSWEETENED BETTER HALF
Califia comes in lightly sweetened and non-sweetened versions. These plant-based products are made from almond and coconut replacement. They’re vegan, dairy-free, and low in calories.
Nutrition facts: (1Tbsp): 8 calories, 0.75g fat, 0g carbs, 0g protein
Ingredients: Almond milk (water, almonds) coconut cream, natural flavors, calcium carbonate, sunflower lecithin, sea salt, potassium citrate, locust bean gum, gellan gum.
6. UNSWEETENED PLANT-BASED MILK
Unsweetened plant-based milks are grouped together since they have similar nutrient compositions.
The key here is to look for brands that have minimal and simple ingredients, no or low sugar, and if possible organic.
Almond milk is made by simply mixing ground almonds with water. It contains good amounts of bone-strengthening calcium. It also contains a good amount of minerals: magnesium, potassium, and iron as well as skin-benefiting vitamin E.
Coconut milk is made by blending the white flesh part of coconuts with the coconut water. This makes it full of healthy fats as well as electrolytes such as potassium; helpful for post-workout hydration.
Rich in plant-based protein, hemp provides a nutty and slightly sweet taste. It’s packed with heart-healthy omega-3 and essential amino acids (protein building blocks). The texture of hemp tends to be thinner so it’s similar to low-fat milk.
All of the above can also be made at home and have bonus points for health. Here’s a simple and tasty Minimalist Baker recipe for almond milk.
7. HOMEMADE CREAMER
You can make your own creamer and choose between something creamy or something sweet depending on what you have available.
Here are some tasty examples:
1-2 Tbsp. half and half or milk + 1 or 2 drops of stevia + a dash of cinnamon
2 tsp-1 Tbsp. unsalted butter + drizzle (1/2 – 1 tsp) of maple syrup
1-2 Tbsp. coconut milk + drizzle (1/2 – 1 tsp) of honey + a dash of nutmeg or pumpkin spice
More about these ingredients below!
Three Coffee Creamers To Avoid
There are many creamers available on the market that are very unhealthy. But the main things you want to avoid are thickeners like carrageenan, artificial ingredients and flavors, preservatives (the words you can’t pronounce), partially hydrogenated oils, and sugar and artificial sweeteners.
And the prize for some of the worst coffee creamers goes to…
1. INTERNATIONAL DELIGHT: CANDY BAR FLAVORS
These sugar bombs come in a variety of flavors including Almond Joy, Oreo, Resees, and Herseys.
Nutrition facts: (1Tbsp): 35 calories, 1.5g fat, 6g carbs (from sugar), 0g protein
Ingredients: Water, cane sugar, palm oil, contains 2% or less of: sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, carrageenan, mono and diglycerides, natural and artificial flavors, sodium stearoyl lactylate, salt.
2. DUNKIN’ DONUTS: EXTRA EXTRA
The name says it all – Extra Extra. This creamer contains extra of all the “bad” stuff including sugar, preservatives, fat, and carrageenan.
Nutrition facts (1Tbsp): 40 calories, 1.5g fat, 6 g carbs (from sugar), 0g protein.
Ingredients: Milk, sugar, cream, contains 2% or less of: natural flavors, dipotassium phosphate, potassium citrate, carrageenan.
3. COFFEE-MATE: SWEET FLAVORS
Coffee-Mate come in a variety of flavors including Italian sweet cream, hazelnut, and caramel macchiato. All of which are equally unhealthy.
Nutrition facts (1Tbsp): 35 calories, 1.5g fat, 5g carbs (from sugar), 0g protein.
Ingredients: Non-Dairy Ingredients: water, cane sugar, palm oil, contains 2% or less of each of the following: sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, natural and artificial flavors, sucralose, mono and diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, polysorbate 60, carrageenan, salt.
What Can You Put In Your Coffee That Doesn’t Have Extra Calories
You can add health benefits to your cup of coffee with these natural coffee boosters. Add some extra flavor without the extra sugar or chemicals.
Maca is a plant that’s part of the cruciferous vegetable family which also includes health stars broccoli, cabbage, and kale. It’s been suggested to improve athletic performance and boost energy levels.
It also has powerful antioxidants that work to help fight free radicals, which can damage your cells.
The taste can be described as nutty or earthy. Some describe the taste similar to butterscotch.
This classic spice has already found its way into many coffeeshop condiments stands because it pairs perfectly with coffee.
Cinnamon not only has powerful medicinal type properties such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s also been suggested to improve blood sugar levels, helping to stabilize your blood sugar therefore preventing sugar cravings.
Adding spices is a great way to include flavor and sweet taste without the extra sugar and calories.
Experiment with other sweet-tasting spices such as cardamom and ginger.
Cocoa on its own contains amazing benefits for your body. The problem is when it’s sweetened in a cafe mocha, it can pack on the calories. A 16 oz cafe mocha at Starbucks costs around $2.10 and contains 360 calories!
But when you get the unsweetened versions of cocoa, you’re only getting about 12 calories per tablespoon.
Cocoa contains a significant amount of fiber, iron, magnesium, and antioxidants. It also has flavonoids which are considered to be super nutrients. These have been shown to help reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.
Vanilla is the classic flavor of many of the sweets we grew up on (ice cream, shakes, etc). Some of the processed versions such as vanilla bean pasta are often with added sugar and preservatives.
The best way to eat vanilla is the real vanilla bean or vanilla bean powder with a vanilla extract next on the list.
The natural forms contain a huge number of health benefits with a low-calorie impact. It’s shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Some studies have even shown that it can help reduce anxiety and depression in some people.
What About Keto-Friendly Fats?
You may have noticed that grass-fed butter, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and coconut oil didn’t make it onto the “list”.
That’s not because these aren’t healthy, it’s because they pack a high caloric punch. Higher calories may make it more challenging to lose weight, unless you’re following a strict keto or low carb diet.
These are all good alternatives to creamers when you’re following the keto diet:
Grass-fed butter contains higher amounts of essential omega-3 fatty acid.
MCT’s are processed differently than other fats in your body, going straight from the gut to the liver and used as a source of energy or turned into ketones.
p class=”” style=”white-space:pre-wrap;”>Coconut oil has gotten mixed reviews because it contains MCT’s and may help control blood sugar. But the studies have been small or inconclusive.
Pro Tip: Try melting these then using a hand blender to create a frothy, latte-like consistency.
Before you start downing cups of your “weight loss approved” creamers, keep in mind that not everyone handles caffeine well. Just because the creamers are healthy, doesn’t mean you should pour it into your cup.
Even though the 7 best coffee creamers tend to be fewer calories and healthier than their commercial counterparts, their calories still add up.
When you add them to your coffee, try to practice portion control and aim for just 1-2 tablespoons. Be aware of how many times you add it to your coffee because it can add up quickly.
Responses to coffee are very individualized. If you experience negative symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, rapid heart rate, or digestive issues, be honest with yourself and check-in if you’re having too much of a good thing.
Have a brew-tiful day!
About The Author
Lisa is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) with over 15 years of experience in nutrition, fitness, and mental health coaching and education. She studied Foods and Nutrition at San Diego State University and earned a Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition at Hawthorn University.
Having certifications and experience in group exercise, intuitive eating, coaching and psychotherapy, and digestive wellness, she’s enthusiastic about the relationship between the body and mind.
She’s dedicated to helping people understand how to implement healthy habit change, while gaining a deeper understanding of what makes them feel their personal best.