It’s official, Christmas is (almost) here! How do we know this to be so? Could it be the dull, grey weather? The dark, chilly nights? The (apparently) never ending deluge of rain?
No. Well, yes, but no. We know that the festive season is upon us because of one simple item – a red cup.
Yes, musclefood fans, now that the UK has turned into a melting pot of cold misery for the next few months, we all need a sugar-laden Christmas drink in our hands to help keep those winter blues at bay.
And this year there are more choices than ever, from Costa’s Hazelnut Praline Hot Chocolate to Starbucks’ Toffee Nut Latte, we now have the official OK to sip ourselves happy each and every day – right?
After all, if we don’t get our mitten covered mitts on Caffé Nero’s Winter Spiced Hot Chocolate now, we’ll have to wait another whole 12 months – and that’s just not on.
Sugar, spice and all things, naughty?
However, before you leg it to join the red cup army, you might want to take a wee look at the latest research into the festive menus from five of the country’s most popular coffee houses – Starbucks, Costa, Pret a Manger, Greggs and Caffé Nero.
Sure, these drinks taste fab – they can even make you feel all nice and fuzzy with festive cheer - but hidden inside each and every merry cup is a shockingly high amount of sugar and calories with some drinks topping out at a whopping 20 spoonfuls of sugar per drink.
That’s well over half of an adult’s recommended daily sugar allowance. In fact, it’s 82g. EIGHTY-TWO!
Who’s the culprit?
Caffé Nero and their Grande Belgian Truffle Hot Chocolate.
You’ll also find 27.2g of fat, 99.7g carbs, 18.8g of protein and an astounding 542 calories.
If a regular size is more your thing, you can expect to take in a mega 24.7g fat, 68.5g carbs 56.9g sugar, 14.1g of protein and 453 calories.
Nipping at Caffé Nero’s heels is Pret a Manger with their Orange Hot Chocolate – 454 calories, 44.4g fat, 52.5g carbs, 50.5g sugar and 12.6g protein.
Now, it’s really no surprise that the worst offenders happen to be hot chocolate drinks, but listen up coffee fans, your drinks aren’t that great either.
Take a Tall Starbucks’ Christmas Brulee Latte for instance. This “festive take on a traditional crème brulee” will add 247 calories to your daily calorie intake, along with 8.6g fat, 40.9g carbs, 37.8g sugar and just 1.1g protein.
Then there’s Costa’s Hazelnut Praline Latte with 303 calories, 15.7g fat, 30.9g carbs, 9.8g protein and 28.8g of sugar.
There's a twinkly light after all
So, that’s the bad and the ugly – what about the good?
Well, if you’re a hot chocolate fan, and you simply must, MUST, have a festive hot chocolate fix, we recommend you check out Costa and their Caramelised Orange Hot Chocolate.
This creation has roughly half the sugar content of the Caffé Nero fave with 321 calories, 115.4g fat, 35.8g carbs, 30.5g sugar and 9.8g protein.
And for all you coffee fans, Caffé Nero is the place to go with their Salted Caramel Latte lifting the (sort of) healthier Christmas Drinks crown – 153 calories, 2.7g fat, 27g carbs, 5.6g protein and 24.6g of sugar.
"I'll only have one" - famous last words!
Of course, one of these drinks won’t make a button of difference to your health, nor will it torpedo your goals or ruin your gains, but the likelihood of having just one is pretty slim.
Rather, it’s far more likely that you’ll treat yourself to at least one, two or maybe three of these drinks per week for the next eight weeks (or however long those glitzy menus stick around for) and, as much as we hate to break it to you, those calories can, and will, add up.
For instance, if you indulge with three Grande Belgian Truffle Hot Chocolates from Caffé Nero – you’ll be adding on a massive 1626 calories and 246g of sugar per week!
Consider you enjoy this “one-off” treat three times a week for eight weeks of the festive season and you’re talking an extra 13,008 calories and 1968g of sugar.
We’re just going to let that sink in for a bit!
So, with that in mind, we recommend moderation.
Indulge a little, enjoy a lot and look forward to hitting your goals once the festivities end without anvils of guilt weighing you down come January.
Your gains, goals and summer self will thank you!