How to Hack Your Starbucks PSL Healthy

A registered dietitian is sharing how to cut calories when buying the beloved pumpkin spice latte plus, two newer fall options from Starbucks.

September 06, 2022

Photo by: Photograph courtesy of Starbucks

Photograph courtesy of Starbucks

Many of us adore autumn for the pumpkin spice lattes (PSL), but not the high amounts of sugar and carbs in them that can sometimes lead to weight gain and other health issues.

According to Starbucks, 2022 is the 19th year of the PSL, which is made with espresso and steamed milk combined with a combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. But this favorite bevie weighs in at a steep calorie tag. A Grande (16 fl. oz.) PSL with 2% milk and whipped cream clocks in at 390 calories, with 50g of sugar and 52g in carbs.

Splurge on a 20 fl. oz Venti with same and you’ll be sucking down 470 autumnal calories (which are, alas, no more forgiving than any other calories), 63g of sugar and 65g of carbs; whole milk boosts that to 520 calories.

Here’s how a registered dietitian suggests making your next PSL order healthier.

Go for the Tall (8 fl. oz): Just getting a smaller portion gives you the flavor you crave for 210 calories, 25g of sugar and 26g of carbs. That’s almost half the calories of the Grande and 55 percent fewer calories than the Venti.

Swap the milk: You can shave off some calories by swapping the 2% milk for skim milk or almond milk.

Decrease the pumpkin sauce: A Grande has four pumps of the Pumpkin Sauce. Another way to shave off some calories is taking it down to three pumps (or one pump less than the recommended amount).

Forgo the whipped cream: You can also cut back on at least 50 calories by skipping the whipped cream or just save it for a once in a while treat.

If you’re looking for other fall drinks, Starbucks offers two more seasonal bevies that may suit your fancy: the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato.

The Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew is back for a fourth year. It’s made with Starbucks Cold Brew and sweetened with vanilla syrup and topped with pumpkin cream cold foam and a dusting of pumpkin spice. A Grande (16 fl. oz) Pumpkin Cold Brew has 250 calories and 31g of each sugar and carbs. You can always opt for the Tall (12 fl. oz) which provides a reasonable 140 calories, 17g sugar and 18g carbs.

The Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato is made with oatmilk and Starbucks Blonde Espresso. You’ll find layered flavors of apple, cinnamon, and brown sugar with spiced apple drizzle in your cup. A Grande (16 fl. oz) has 320 calories, 29g sugar and 56g carbs. That’s the carb equivalent of close to four slices of bread! The Tall (12 fl. oz.) option is a more diet-friendly option at 230 calories, 22g sugar, and 41g carbs, while the better option would be the Short (8 fl. oz) which comes in at 150 calories, 16g sugar, and 28g carbs.

Bottom Line: Order smaller portions and skip added sugar.

There are now numerous fall options available at Starbucks, including two pumpkin spice options. The simplest way to shave off calories and added sugar is to order the smaller portions, especially if you plan on getting numerous fall bevies at Starbucks this season.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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