Is latte more fattening than cappuccino?

Cappuccino and latte are two of the most popular coffee drinks, and many coffee lovers wonder how they compare in terms of calories and fat content. This article will analyze the nutritional information for each drink and answer the question: is latte more fattening than cappuccino?

The Basics of Cappuccino and Latte

First, let’s review the basics of each drink:

  • Cappuccino: A cappuccino is made with espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. A typical 8 oz cappuccino contains approximately 150 calories.
  • Latte: A latte also contains espresso and steamed milk but typically has more steamed milk and less foam compared to a cappuccino. An 8 oz latte has about 190 calories.

So at first glance, latte appears to have more calories per 8 oz serving compared to cappuccino. But simply comparing calorie counts doesn’t tell the whole story. We need to dig deeper into the ingredients to determine which drink is more fattening.

The Role of Milk Fat

When determining how fattening a coffee drink is, the most important factor is the amount of milk fat it contains. Whole milk has more fat compared to skim or low fat milk. Here’s a comparison of the fat content of various types of milk:

Milk Type Total Fat (g per 8 oz)
Whole Milk 8g
2% Milk 5g
1% Milk 2.5g
Skim Milk 0.2g

As you can see, whole milk contains significantly more fat than low fat or skim versions. This means a cappuccino or latte made with whole milk will be higher in fat and calories compared to one made with skimmed milk.

Comparing Milk Fat in Cappuccino vs Latte

Now let’s analyze the amount of milk that goes into each drink. A typical 8 oz cappuccino contains approximately 4 oz of steamed milk and 4 oz of milk foam. An 8 oz latte contains around 6-8 oz of steamed milk and just 1-2 oz of foam. Since lattes use more steamed milk and less foam, they end up containing more milk fat if made with whole milk:

  • Cappuccino (with whole milk): 4 oz milk x 8g fat per 8 oz = 3.2g fat
  • Latte (with whole milk): 8 oz milk x 8g fat per 8 oz = 6.4g fat

As you can see, the latte ends up having twice as much fat content from the milk alone. This suggests that latte made with whole milk is significantly more fattening than cappuccino.

The Importance of Milk Fat Percentage

However, the above calculation assumed both drinks were made with whole milk. In practice, the type of milk used can vary quite a bit from cafe to cafe. Many coffee shops now default to using 2% or nonfat milk, unless the customer specifically requests whole milk. Here is how the fat content changes if we assume both drinks are made with 2% milk:

  • Cappuccino (with 2% milk): 4 oz milk x 5g fat per 8 oz = 2g fat
  • Latte (with 2% milk): 8 oz milk x 5g fat per 8 oz = 4g fat

With 2% milk, the latte still has twice as much fat as the cappuccino. However, the total fat content has now dropped to 4g for the latte and 2g for the cappuccino. That’s a significant decrease compared to if we’d used whole milk.

Finally, let’s look at the numbers if both drinks are prepared with nonfat milk:

  • Cappuccino (with nonfat milk): 4 oz milk x 0.2g fat per 8 oz = 0.1g fat
  • Latte (with nonfat milk): 8 oz milk x 0.2g fat per 8 oz = 0.2g fat

With nonfat milk, both drinks are essentially negligible in fat content. This demonstrates the huge impact milk fat percentage has on the overall fat and calorie content of these coffee drinks.

Factors That Increase Fat Content

Aside from the type of milk used, there are some other factors that can increase the fat and calorie content of lattes and cappuccinos:

  • Whipped cream: Adding whipped cream significantly increases fat and calories. Just 2 tbsp of whipped cream adds around 50 calories.
  • Flavored syrups: Popular vanilla, caramel, or mocha syrups add sugar and calories.
  • Extra milk: Some coffee shops will add extra milk or cream by default, or upon request, which increases fat and calorie content.
  • Large sizes: Larger 12 or 16 oz drinks contain more milk, and thus more fat, than standard 8 oz servings.

Comparing Calories in Latte vs Cappuccino

Now that we’ve compared the fat content, let’s look at the total calorie count. Here is a breakdown of the approximate calories in each 8 oz drink, made with different types of milk:

Drink Whole Milk Calories 2% Milk Calories Skim Milk Calories
Cappuccino 150 120 60
Latte 190 140 90

As you can see, a latte made with whole milk contains the most calories, clocking in at around 190 calories for an 8 oz serving. A cappuccino made with skim milk contains the fewest calories at just 60 calories. But the differences are minimized when both drinks are prepared with nonfat milk.

Variables Impacting Calories

It’s important to note that the calorie counts above are approximations that can vary based on specific ingredients:

  • Type of milk: whole, 2%, 1%, or skim
  • Exact espresso shot amount
  • Precise steamed milk amount
  • Any extra toppings or syrups added

For example, some coffee shops use more than the standard 1 oz espresso shot in their lattes and cappuccinos. So the specific calorie counts can vary quite a bit between cafes based on how they prepare the drinks.

Nutritional Comparison of Latte vs. Cappuccino

Aside from fat and calories, let’s look at some other key nutrition numbers in an 8 oz latte prepared with 2% milk compared to an 8 oz cappuccino also prepared with 2% milk:

Nutrient Cappuccino Latte
Calories 120 140
Fat 4g 6g
Protein 6g 9g
Carbs 9g 12g
Sugar 9g 10g
Caffeine 85mg 85mg

Key takeaways from this comparison:

  • The latte has slightly more calories, fat, protein and carbs due to the higher amount of milk.
  • Caffeine content is equal at around 85mg for both drinks.
  • Sugar content is similar though latte has slightly more.

Overall the nutritional profiles of cappuccino and latte are fairly similar when prepared the same way. The main differences come down to the milk content.

Tips for a Healthier Cappuccino or Latte

Here are some tips you can use to make your cappuccino or latte healthier:

  • Choose skim or 1% milk to minimize fat and calories.
  • Ask for less milk or foam to reduce calorie content.
  • Skip the whipped cream topping.
  • Avoid flavored syrups and sugar.
  • Opt for a small size around 8 oz.
  • Ask if the cafe has low-calorie milk alternatives like almond or soy milk.

Making these simple tweaks can reduce the calories in your latte or cappuccino by 50-100 calories per serving.

Bottom Line

So is latte more fattening than cappuccino? The answer depends on a few key factors:

  • Milk fat: Whole milk lattes contain more fat and calories than whole milk cappuccinos.
  • Milk type: With 2% or skim milk, the calorie difference is minimized.
  • Customizations: Whipped cream, flavored syrups, and extra milk all increase fat and calories.

Many cafes now use 2% or nonfat milk as their default. With nonfat milk, lattes and cappuccinos are very similar in nutritional content. So the difference really comes down to your customizations. Opting for skim milk and skipping the whipped cream will keep either drink relatively low in calories.

Overall, lattes and cappuccinos can both be part of a healthy diet when prepared properly. So don’t feel like you have to give up these delicious coffee drinks! Just be mindful of your choices like milk type and toppings, and you can enjoy your favorite coffee without the excess fat and calories.

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