You’re on your way to class and need an AM caffeine fix, so you pop into Starbucks and grab a Venti Java Chip Frappuccino. Did you know that blended coffee drink has 22 grams of fat and 96 grams of carbs (88 of which come from sugars)? YIKES.
Luckily, Starbucks offers a number of healthier food and drink options. The key to knowing which coffee drink or breakfast sandwich is the smartest choice is to check out the nutritional information, because the name of the item isn’t always a good indicator of it’s “health factor”.
Here’s what I steer clear of and go for when I’m ordering a drink at Starbucks:
I avoid ordering Frappuccinos, hot chocolates, sodas, lemonades, and juices, unless I’m looking to splurge. These drinks are loaded with sugar and/or fat (especially if you get them topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle).
The following options are a smarter way to get your caffeine fix:
- Hot or iced tea
- Hot or iced coffee
- Hot or iced caffe Americano
- Skim hot or iced caffe latte (optional: with sugar-free flavor)
- Skim cappuccino
- Skim espresso macchiato or espresso
Extra tip: I order all drinks unsweetened, since I can always add a little sweetener on my own.
Here’s what I take into consideration when I’m ordering food at Starbucks:
Even though the pastries look lovely, I stay away from the bakery case (to be honest, most of the stuff in there looks better than it tastes). The sweet treats are usually high in sugar and the savory ones are loaded with fat and salt. If I feel like I MUST have a pastry, then I grab a cake pop. The cake pop is big enough to satisfy my craving and is more figure-friendly than a brownie that is the size of my head (moderation for the win).
If I’m looking for a bite to eat in the AM, then I go for a ham and cheddar or a reduced-fat turkey bacon breakfast sandwich. Both of these options have 20 grams of protein (which keeps me feeling fuller longer) and have less fat and salt than some of the other items. If I’m looking for a vegetarian option, then I order a spinach and feta wrap (note that this one has more salt in it than the other two choices). The great thing about ordering a protein-packed breakfast sandwich instead of a muffin the morning is that gives me energy, instead of a sugar high that is followed by a crash.
If I’m grabbing lunch on the go, then I opt for a chicken and hummus box (which has 20 grams of protein). When you’re scoping out the boxes at Starbucks, beware! The names don’t indicate the nutritional value of the item. The protein box actually has less protein in it than the chicken and hummus box.
The zesty chicken and black bean salad and the tomato and mozzarella panini are also solid options. They’ve got anywhere from 15-20 grams of protein in them, are under 50 grams of carbs, and aren’t loaded with fat. Most of the other sandwiches and salads are really salty (they have anywhere from 900-1,100 milligrams of salt in them).
I usually don’t consider going for the packaged granola bars or the Greek yogurt parfaits, as they are higher in sugar and lower in protein than the options listed above.
It’s possible to make figure-friendly choices at Starbucks if you do your homework. Avoiding drinks that are loaded with sugar and making meal choices that are lower in sodium will help keep your Starbucks habit from affecting your health.