Your Latte Habit is Making You Fat: Here's How to Cut Calories from Your Coffee

Having trouble zipping up your jeans? Your coffee habit could be the culprit.

"The old days of buying a cup of coffee and putting a packet of sugar in it are far behind us," Jane Hurley, senior nutritionist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told CNBC.

About half of American coffee drinkers have turned their morning Joe into an adult milkshake by opting for exotic coffee drinks laced with caramel, cookie crumbs, and other fattening ingredients. CNBC reports the number of people ordering plain coffee is down 7 percent since last year.

A large cup of Seattle's Best Chocolate Coffee Crunch Javakula, for instance, has 660 calories and a whopping 100 grams of sugar. That's more calories than a Big Mac -- or the equivalent of three chocolate doughnuts.

In contrast, a cup of black coffee has zero calories and no sugar.

As a black coffee drinker, I know how boring it feels to order a cup of plain brew while the barista is yelling out the names of tantalizing beverages for Amanda or Ted. Sometimes I give in to the urge to try something different, but I am careful to keep the calories at bay.

Here are my favorite tips for cutting calories at the coffee shop.

1. Order the Smallest Drink Size

As with food, portion size is the key to damage control. Chances are you only need a few sips to quiet your inner child. The smallest advertised drink at most coffee shops is 12 ounces, but my daughter, who used to work for Starbucks, clued me in to ordering a "short," or 8 ounce drink, off the menu.

2. Skip the Whipped

The whipped cream on coffee drinks adds a shocking number of calories. A grande Mocha Frappuccino, for instance, is 400 calories with whipped cream, 290 calories without. To save a massive amount of calories, I often order my drink with "no whip."

3. Minimize the Milk Calories

Unless they're using a pre-made mix, most coffee shops will make your drink with whatever type of milk you specify. Wean yourself off of whole milk by going down to 2% and eventually to non-fat milk. If they don't have 2% milk, I ask for half whole and half skim for a similar result.

4. Go Sugar Free

Sugary syrups also contain a lot of calories. To cut down on calories, I sometimes opt for a sugar free syrup -- or skip the syrup altogether.

5. Make Your Coffee Drink a Special Treat

Despite my clever diet tricks, some days I just want to throw good sense to the wind and satisfy my jonesing for a fattening coffee drink. But I make sure to do this rarely. Most of the time, I am that boring person ordering just a cup of coffee to which I add nothing.