Order This, Not That: Starbucks

'Tis the season for fancy coffee drinks filled with hidden fat, sugar and calories. Learn what to order from the barista so you don't pack on extra holiday pounds.
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Cup of Coffee

Photo by: Ryan McVay ©(c) Ryan McVay

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Who doesn’t love Starbucks' holiday drinks? They have such fancy names and delicious ingredients. But the hidden calories . . . you won’t believe your thighs! Get the skinny before you order your next grande or venti holiday brew.

ORDER: Reasonable portions of tasty delights

Many folks look forward to the seasonal offerings at Starbucks. There’s nothing wrong with tasty caffeinated beverages, but many of Starbucks dressed-up drinks contain as many calories as we should be eating in one meal. Luckily, Starbucks gives you the power to take control of your order. You choose the size of your drink, type of milk, and whether or not you want whipped cream. When ordering a fancy-shmancy drink, count it as a snack and aim for no more than 200 calories.

Just to get some perspective, a grande (16-fluid ounce) cup of brewed coffee without sugar or milk contains 5 calories and is free of fat and sugar. Add ¼ cup of skim milk for an additional 15 calories. Now take a look at the numbers on some of the more popular holiday drinks: Before you order one of those yummy drinks, choose one with a reasonable amount of calories.

NOT: Overly decadent calorie-bombs

‘Tis the season for a grande (16-fluid ounce) Eggnog Frappuccino made with 2% milk and whipped cream. This baby weighs is at 420 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 58 grams of sugar. Even the tall size (12-fluid ounces) comes with a hefty 320 calories and 13 grams of fat.

Instead: Order the grande Eggnog Frappuccino Light with only 200 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 2.5 grams of saturated fat.

A grande Pumpkin Spice Crème Frappuccino made with whole milk and whipped cream is not much better with 380 calories, 16 grams of fat and 52 grams sugar.

Instead: Choose a tall (12-fluid ounce) version made with skim milk and hold the whipped cream for 150 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 33 grams  of sugar.

Some folks think that soy milk makes for a healthier drink. Don’t be fooled. A grande (16-fluid ounce) Mocha Frappuccino with soy milk and whipped cream has 410 calories, 14 grams of fat and 65 grams of sugar (Yikes!).

Instead: Ask for light soy or nonfat milk instead to skim some calories or go for the tall (12-fluid ounce) Mocha Frappuccino Light for 130 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 18 grams of sugar.

Looking forward to warming up to a grande (16-fluid ounce) Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate made with 2% milk and whipped cream? You’ll be guzzling down 450 calories, 16 grams fat and 62 grams sugar.

Instead: Switching to nonfat milk will only save 50 calories. A small taste of this decadent drink is all you need. Order a short (8-fluid ounce) made with nonfat milk and hold the whipped cream for 160 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 32 grams of sugar.

We can’t forget about the delicious grande (16-fluid ounce) Caramel Brulee Latte with 2% milk and whipped cream. It has a whopping 420 calories, 15 grams fat, and 47 grams sugar.

Instead: Go for a short (8-fluid ounce) version with the same add-ins for almost half the calories (240) and fat (8 grams).

For more information about Starbucks beverages, you can find them here.

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Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

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