How to Make Healthier Choices at Starbucks

Coffee drinks have a reputation for being full of sugars and high-fat dairy products, but does that mean coffee is bad for you? If you love Starbucks, learn what drinks to avoid and how to make better choices that are aligned with your fitness goals.

Coffee is a staple in most households. It’s served with breakfast and often after dinner. For those who frequent cafes like Starbucks, they may even participate in various “happy hours” where afternoon coffee orders are rewarded with discounts. According to the International Coffee Organization, 163 million, 60kg bags of coffee were consumed worldwide between 2017-2018. [1] That is a lot of coffee!

One thing is certain: people LOVE coffee. Is it any wonder that Starbucks is such a hit? When it comes to your health, there may be reasons you want to skip the frappes though. How do you choose the right coffee drink, and how can it have a positive impact on your fitness goals?

This is where the poor health choices at Starbucks begin. Many of the popular chain’s drinks are blended with milk, sugars, some coffee, and topped with whipped cream. The result: a drink with as many calories as a meal. Here are just five popular Starbucks drinks and their caloric values:

White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino (whole milk, whipped cream): 420 calories
Java Chip Frappuccino (whole milk, whipped cream): 470 calories
Peppermint Mocha (2% milk, whipped cream): 440 calories
Caramel Frappuccino (whole milk, whipped cream): 420 calories
Hot Chocolate (2% milk, whipped cream): 400 calories

These deliciously comforting drinks pack a caloric punch. Although treating yourself once in a while is acceptable, even drinking one White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino weekly adds 21,840 calories to your diet in one year.

In the past, caffeine (coffee in particular) has gotten a bad reputation since scientists linked coffee consumption to cancer and heart disease. Recent studies, however, have turned to observational evidence to say that coffee and caffeine consumption can have beneficial or no effect on these disorders.

For those looking to lose weight, the benefits are definitively positive. People who consume about 250 ml of coffee, three times a day for four weeks found that they were less hungry. Why? Caffeine improves satiety hormones like serotonin and ghrelin, making drinkers less hungry and feel fuller faster. However, adding excessive sugar and powdered milk or milk substitutes to coffee can lead to negative metabolic symptoms. For those struggling with Type 2 Diabetes, drinking coffee can help decrease insulin resistance. [3]

Ready to burn calories? Caffeine makes your body efficient at energy use through the stimulation of thermogenesis.[5] The body warms and causes you to burn calories. In addition to that, caffeine’s diuretic effects increase urine production, helping you lose water weight.

Choosing the Right Kind of Coffee Drinks at Starbucks
You don’t have to give up your beloved Starbucks to stick to your diet. You can enjoy your coffee drink and benefit from the positive effects of caffeine on your metabolism. Here are five healthy coffee drinks to order at your local Starbucks:

Pike Place Roast (no milk): 5 calories
Nariño 70 Cold Brew (non-fat milk): 40 calories
Espresso (1.5 oz): 10 calories
Iced Americano (no milk): 15 calories
Iced coffee (sweetened, no milk): 80 calories

These basic, but subtly different coffee drinks will help you get your fix and give you a boost in energy. Still craving some creamy sweetness? Try adding a natural sugar substitute like Stevia and just a splash of nonfat milk to your beverage. It’s amazing how sweet even milk tastes when you don’t consume sugar every day.

Buying Starbucks daily can be cost-prohibitive. By making some of your coffee beverages at home, you can save money and monitor your caloric intake more precisely.

Here’s how to make both a hot coffee and cold brew just like the pros!

HOT COFFEE: You can choose one of three brew methods: pour-over, drip coffee maker or French press. Use whatever method you already have in your kitchen. At Starbucks, they use two tablespoons of ground coffee per every six ounces of hot water. Your water should be heated to just lower than boiling temperature: 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to use freshly ground coffee and filtered water to get that Starbucks flavor!

COLD COFFEE: Cold-brewed coffee is never heated. The coffee grounds are steeped in cold water. This process makes your iced coffee less acidic, less watery, and highly caffeinated. First, add ¾ cup of ground coffee beans to four cups of cold, filtered water. Allow the grinds to steep in the container (or you can use a large French press) and let stand at room temperature for between 12 and 24 hours, depending on your taste preferences. It may take some experimentation to get the flavor you prefer. Then, filter out the coffee grounds using cheesecloth or a regular paper coffee filter.

COFFEE CREAMER: Coffee creamers can quickly add flavor and a smooth texture to your coffee. But they also pack on tons of sugar and fat. Instead of getting a typical high-fat creamer, use one of our 8 delicious Lean Body® RTD’s instead!

They each have lots of protein, less fat, zero sugar, and are gluten-free. Try a splash or 2 in your next cup for a surprisingly creamy sweet flavor burst.

Coffee is an amazing beverage with plenty of health benefits. For weight loss in particular, it’s one of the best natural supplements you can add to your diet. Remember, there are low-calorie ways to enjoy your favorite coffee drinks. Starbucks has nutritional information on their website and on their cafe menus. If you are tracking macros and calories, they make it easy for you to document their products. You can still have coffee and lose weight!

1. “International Coffee Organization – The Current State Of The Global Coffee Trade”.
3. Pourshahidi, L. Kirsty et al. “A Comprehensive Overview Of The Risks And Benefits Of Coffee Consumption”. N.p., 2017. Web. 28 May 2017.
4. Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., Katherine. “Caffeine: Can It Help Me Lose Weight? – Mayo Clinic”. Mayo Clinic. N.p., 2017. Web. 28 May 2017.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.