Smart Drink Choices at Starbucks: Choose This, Not That

Updated on December 21, 2019
kitkat1141 profile image

I am the mother of two and work part-time in healthcare at a local hospital. I am passionate about food, cooking, and health issues.

Starbucks is famous for its consistency.
Starbucks is famous for its consistency.

It always amazes me when someone points out the calorie count of some basic items at local fast food establishments. Starbucks is no exception. Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that black coffee has no calories, and can usually be consumed freely on any program. I think that is why most of us, regardless if we are dieting or not, don't hesitate to run into Starbucks to grab a coffee. It is all of the ingredients that get added to the coffee that quickly change it into an unhealthy choice.

Of course hand in hand with the coffee, we are usually tempted by the food offerings at Starbucks. Recently I read a book called Choose it and Lose it by Rose Reisman. It is along the same line as the Eat This, Not That series, where they show you an unhealthy choice at a fast-food establishment and give you an option along the same flavor line to substitute for better health.

This is what I learned!

Salted Caramel Mocha
Salted Caramel Mocha

Avoid: Salted Caramel Mocha with Whipped Cream

This is a popular choice at Starbucks, especially in the colder months. Starbucks describes this drink as espresso and steamed milk, blended with mocha and toffee nut flavored syrup. It is topped with sweetened whipped cream, caramel sauce and a combination of turbinado sugar and sea salt.

Salted Caramel Mocha with Whipped Cream
Caramel Macchiato with two percent milk
Saturated Fat
Caramel Macchiato
Caramel Macchiato

Choose: Caramel Macchiato

This is a better choice that hits all of the same flavor notes. The Caramel Macchiato has roughly half the fat, calories, carbs and sodium, yet still tastes great. Starbucks describes this drink as freshly steamed milk with vanilla-flavored syrup, with espresso and topped with caramel sauce. This drink has a big following, again especially in the colder months.

White Hot Chocolate
White Hot Chocolate

Avoid: White Hot Chocolate Topped with Whipped Cream

Nothing warms the soul more than hot chocolate on a cold, winter day. Starbuck's premier choice is the White Hot Chocolate, which is of course topped with whipped cream. It is a traditional hot chocolate beverage made with white chocolate and steamed milk topped with whipped cream.

You can see your hips will be expanding as you sip this drink due to the fat and particularly high sugar content.

Reisman says this drink has as much sugar as 12 French Cruller donuts at your favorite donut store.

White Hot Chocolate with two percent milk topped with Whipped Cream
Hot Chocolate two percent Milk
Hot Chocolate Nonfat Milk
Saturated Fat

Choose: Hot Chocolate hold the Whipped Cream

I know holding the whipped cream sounds like you are being grounded, but this drink has so much chocolate flavor, it will take you right back to the good memories of your childhood! You won't miss a thing. It can be made with two percent or nonfat milk for an even healthier option. Choose this option instead of the White Hot Chocolate, and over a year you will lose 9 lbs.

Avoid: Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino

The final drink we will look at is the Frappuccino. Now, everyone knows we should be eating 7 to 8 servings of fruit and vegetables per day, so what better way to sneak them in than in your Starbucks drink. Apparently, according to Reisman, this would be the wrong choice.

This drink is strawberries and whole milk blended with ice, and topped with whipped cream. Compared to the other whipped topped drinks, this has the least calories. Most popular in the warmer months.

Strawberry & Cream Frappuccino with whipped cream
Vanilla Bean Creme Frappuccino Nonfat
Saturated Fat

Choose: Vanilla Bean Creme Frappuccino

This drink is just vanilla syrup, milk (in this case nonfat), and ice blended into a smooth beverage. It essentially has no fat, and is significantly fewer calories than the strawberry choice, although the sugar count is high. Both of these frappuccinos obviously have no caffeine because there is no coffee in the product, for those who are caffeine sensitive.

Questions & Answers


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        5 years ago

        So actually the vanilla bean frappuccino is made with vanilla bean powder, which may or may not be more fattening than vanilla syrup. Basically if you're on a diet and choose Starbucks, order whatever you want with choices of sugar free syrups and non fat milk with no whipped cream.

      • kitkat1141 profile imageAUTHOR


        7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        Thank you for commenting billybuc! These tips would work at any coffee house, or more importantly at home! The whipped cream is obviously the big no-no, but if you are spending that kind of money, I think maybe you should just go for it! Everything in moderation, they say....

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        7 years ago from Olympia, WA

        I'm here to give you support; fact is I won't shop at Starbucks, but I can use these suggestions with other coffee shops, so thanks.


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