While relying on caffeine to get through each, and every day, isn’t great for your overall health, occasional caffeine or a little pick me up each day isn’t out of the question. BUT, one of the big downfalls with that caffeine hit is the added sugar that often goes with it.

Instead of a black coffee, you opt for the French vanilla latte, or the mocha with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Or maybe the iced coffee with hazelnut syrup. Or the pumpkin spice latte. The thing is, these added syrups, mixes, etc. all increase the calorie load, turning a little pick me up into a serious nutrition downfall. Take these classic Starbucks drinks for example.

Grande Caramel Macchiato – 250 calories, 33g sugar

Grande Latte – 190 calories, 18g sugar

Grande Mocha with Whip – 360 calories, 35g sugar

Grande Black Coffee – 5 calories, 0g sugar

Ok, I get it, black coffee isn’t always as appealing. So, what can you do? How can you enjoy your caffeine kick without sabotaging your good nutrition? I’ll let you in on one of my favorite little secrets – liquid stevia. Yep, that’s right. Stevia is a non-nutrative sweetener (that means it doesn’t have any calories), all natural sweetener. It comes in powder and liquid form, but I prefer the liquid form to add to drinks (it blends right in to hot OR cold drinks!). And, you can even get FLAVORED ones! I keep a little bottle of vanilla flavored stevia in my purse and another of cinnamon in my kitchen. I’ve also tried hazelnut and peppermint. All delicious, all last quite a while (you only need a few drops for a whole drink. They also come in flavors like orange crème and cola. Which means you could use them to flavor carbonated water for a lighter “soda”.

I prefer to buy mine online, at Amazon, but if you just can’t wait, Whole Foods carries them too. I’ve tried a number of brands and definitely recommend SweetLeaf over any other. It has the best flavor AND blends best with beverages. Try it. Keep the coffee, save the calories, love the taste.

Aubrey Phelps MS RDN LDN