Column: With coffee, it's not just about the calories

Last week, Fred asked me about coffee.

When it comes to coffee, it's not necessarily excess caffeine you have to worry about, although you do want to be careful because caffeine is a stimulant and can leave you jittery and hungrier. Studies show caffeine can be addictive. Withdrawal symptoms include headache, fatigue, drowsiness, depression, difficulty concentrating and irritability.

The study found that the onset of withdrawal symptoms typically begins 12 to 24 hours after avoiding caffeine. The duration of symptoms ranged from two to nine days. You should know that in 8 ounces of brewed coffee, you are getting 236 grams of caffeine. In 8 ounces of cola, you are getting 247 grams of caffeine. In that same 8-ounce cola, you are getting about 114 calories versus only about 5 calories in that 8-ounce cup of coffee. So when it comes to your waistline, black coffee wins hands down.

Remember water

Don't forget about water. Coffee will not hydrate your cells, only water will. Cold weather can actually dehydrate your body. It is important to focus on consuming enough water all year long. Heated homes and offices tend to dry the skin as well. Try to consume at least 64 ounces of water daily. The more you drink, the more you do your body good.

Remember, water is involved in many of your body's metabolic processes, including digestion and fat burning. So don't let the cool weather fool you and cause you to lose focus on hydrating yourself. Continue your efforts for meeting your water needs all year round. It will help your body function at its best.

Where you need to be careful is with those fancy coffee drinks. Some coffee drinks can be as high in calories and fat as a milk shake!

Mucho calories in mocha

One specialty drink, called a white chocolate mocha (made with whole milk), provides up to 600 calories and 15 grams of fat. Seventy-five percent of the fat is saturated. Top it off with whipped cream, add an extra 200 calories. Another chain offers a 16-ounce mocha that is almost 400 calories and 25 grams of fat.

The best way to have coffee is to drink it black without cream or sugar, and it is virtually free of fat and calories. If you do not want to drink it plain, you can add skim milk or non-dairy creamer. Two tablespoons of powdered non-dairy creamer or 1 tablespoon of liquid non-dairy creamer equals about 20 calories.

Splenda has put out no-calorie sweetener flavors for your coffee. The flavors that are available are caramel, cinnamon, french vanilla, hazelnut and mocha. So the next time you want to meet friends for coffee, keep it simple. Specialty coffees can bring your weight loss to a screaming halt. Thanks for the question, Fred.

If you feel like you are struggling, please call me at the Diet Center today, (928) 753-5066, or send e-mail to dietcenteraz@yahoo.com.