The Best & Worst Starbucks Drinks & Food For Your Health.
How to make healthier choices at Starbucks
The best low sugar Starbucks drinks actually taste OK and still give us our daily dose of caffeine. If you go to Starbucks stores as much as I do, these low calorie and sugar free Starbucks drink are great to keep our Starbucks habit going strong but save some calories. I travel a lot of the year and Starbucks ends up being my go to for breakfasts and at airports so I got smart to the calories pretty quickly and finding the best low cal low sugar Starbucks drinks and snacks.
These are the best and the worst Starbucks food and drinks for your health. As well as some not so ‘healthy items’ that are total diet killers. Starbucks actually has a surprising amount have lots of low sugar food and drink options that have fewer calories, even though they only have 1 sugar-free syrup now (I miss the sugar-free caramel). But they also have complete gut bombs!
Coffee can be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet but not with the versions that go way beyond the recommended daily intake of added sugars per day. It’s not just about your waistline and health but our mental health, as too much sugar can mess with our mood and energy levels.
I love going to Starbucks for breakfast when I’m traveling for business (9-12 weeks of the year). It’s convenient and often one of the healthiest, lower calories choices when you’re at airports or on the road and you only have time to grab and go. If you’re more of a listener than a reader, I’ve shared the podcast episode below as well as the transcript.
The best and worst of Starbucks most popular drinks and sweet treats
I created this list to help navigate the Starbucks menu as it’s not as straight forward as it looks and there’s more to a name. Even though Starbucks is really good about listing the calories in their food and drink, there’s more to it than just calories, there’s the fat, carbohydrates and protein to think about too. And the flavor! I’m all about being healthy but it still has to taste good.
Is your Starbucks habit making you fat? Here are the worst food and drink items on Starbucks menu along with best low sugar Starbucks drinks, best low cal low sugar Starbucks drinks and healthier alternatives. Some are obvious but others are healthy sounding ones that actually aren’t. I’m never going to tell anyone what to do and what not to eat or drink but I just want you to have all of the information. That way you can make informed decisions and decide when you want a treat and when you’re trying to make healthier daily habit choices.
8 highest calorie drinks at Starbucks and the best low sugar Starbucks drink healthy options and alternatives
1. Starbucks High Calorie Drink: Cinnamon Roll Frappuccino
It sounds amazing and probably is but it is as unhealthy as it sounds. It might be one of the best tasting Starbucks drinks but it comes at a price!
Nutrition per Grande: 510 calories, 16 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 87 g carbs, (0 g fiber, 85 grams of sugar), 5 g protein
That’s the sugar equivalent of more than an entire Cinnabon Classic roll (58g) and the same amount of calories as Cinna Sweeties 10 ct.
Best healthy Starbucks drink alternative: Order a black Iced coffee or cold brew coffee with sugar free vanilla syrup or stevia and cinnamon with a splash of non-fat milk. Even if you order vente or grande size you’re going to be at under 50 calories. Starbucks if you’re reading, please bring back more flavors of sugar-free syrups, I really miss the sugar-free caramel.
I know sugar-free syrups get a bad rap and they’re definitely not clean but they do save a ton of sugar and calories when you’re watching your calorie count.
2. Starbucks Green Tea Crème Frappuccino.
Nutrition per Grande, 16 oz, whole milk, whipped cream: This sounds like a healthy Starbucks drink but it has 430 calories, 16 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 68 carbs, 1 g Fiber, 65 g sugars, 6 g protein.
That’s the sugar equivalent of 1.5 cups (3 servings) Green Tea Haagen Daaz.
Best low cal low sugar Starbucks drink alternative: Natural green tea is amazing for you and has a ton of health benefits and antioxidants but after it’s mixed with cream and sugar the benefits go out the window. Ask for a green tea made from their tea bags not syrup, don’t add milk and add a little stevia if you want it sweetener and you just saved yourself 410 calories as this is a zero calorie, zero fat, zero sugar drink.
3. Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino Blended Coffee
This frappuccino contains more than 500 calories! Most meals I eat have less than that! To put it in perspective, it’s the equivalent to a McDonalds Cheeseburger (300 cals) and McDonalds Vanilla Ice Cream Cone (200 cals).
Nutrition per Grande, 16 oz, whole milk, whipped cream: 520 calories, 16 g Fat (10 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 65 carbs, (0 g fiber, 64 g sugar), protein 5 g
Sugar equivalent of 30.3 Kit Kat White Chocolate Mini’s and calorie equivalent of 24.
Best Starbucks Drink Alternative: White chocolate anything is one of my faves and this is one of my favorite drinks from Starbucks! My go to Starbucks coffee is a grande Americano with 1 pump of white mocha and 2 pumps sugar-free vanilla. Yes I have a really sweet tooth! I drink this coffee black as the 1 pump of white mocha makes it creamy enough for me. If you want a sugar free Starbucks drink just skip the white chocolate syrup.
Or get the Frappuccino light version which has only ⅓ of the calories and ⅛ th of the fat (Calories 190, Fat 2g, Saturated Fat 1.5g, sodium 240mg, carbohydrates 38g, 4g protein).
4. Starbucks Hot Chocolate
Nutrition per Grande, 16 oz, whole milk, whipped cream: 400 calories, 16 g fat (10 g Saturated Fat), 170 mg sodium, 50 g carbs, (4 g fiber, 43 g sugar), 14 g protein
Sugar equivalent of: The same amount of calories and 15g more sugar than Dunkin’ Donuts Oreo Donut. I have a sweet tooth but I’d rather take the donut and I don’t even like donuts (I know, I’m a weirdo).
Best Starbucks Drink Alternative: Split a Starbucks choc chip cookie for all of the chocolate taste and actually being able to eat. Drinking calories never seems satisfying to me.
5. Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino Blended Coffee
Nutrition per Grande, 16 oz whole milk: 470 calories, 16 g fat, (16 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 57 carbs, (3 g fiber, 52 g sugar), 6 g Protein
Calorie equivalent of: 12 Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies
I’m not going to lie, this sounds like an amazing taste combo but you’re better off having:
Best Starbucks Drink Alternative: An iced americano or Nitro Cold Brew (5 calories). I love Starbucks nitro coffee as it has a sweet creamy taste without sugar and a frothy head. Then add 1 pump mocha or white mocha, 1 pump mint and a splash of non-fat or soy milk. This is a great option when you’re craving something really sweet.
6. Starbucks Strawberry Smoothie
Nutrition per Grande, 16 oz, 2% Milk: 300 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 60 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 41 g sugar, 16 g protein
Sugar equivalent of approximately 1 cup Strawberry Haagen Daaz and more calories than ½ cup (1 serving).
Some smoothies can be a great and nutritious option but this is not that! It takes up nearly all of your RDA of sugar.
Best Starbucks Drink Alternative: Grab one of Starbucks cold drinks like the Evolution Fresh® Organic Green Devotion (35 cals, 0g fat, 5g sugar) from their fridge. Preferably the one without fruit and get your nutrition fix at the same time.
7. Starbucks S’mores Frappuccino
This might be on the best Starbucks drinks list for being one of the yummiest but look at the nutrition (or anti-nutrition) and it’s not just the calories that are high:
Nutrition per Grande: 16 oz, whole milk: 450 calories, 21 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 220 mg sodium, 62 g carbs, (0 g fiber, 56 g sugar), 5 g protein
Sugar equivalent of 56 Pure Chocolate Mallomar Cookies
If I’m going to have S’mores I want to eat not drink them, for less cals and minus brain freeze.
Best Starbucks Drink Alternative: If you want S’mores, eat them! 3.2 S’mores Oreos have the same amount of calories, 12g less sugar, and 1g more fat. I’d much rather have this sweet treat than the frappuccino and have a couple of espresso shots to get my caffeine fix.
8. 1 that’s less obvious: Starbucks Medicine Ball “Cold Buster”
Starbucks medicine ball tea is one of their most popular hot tea drinks in the Winter but it’s just a blend of hot water, steamed lemonade, one bag of Teavana’s jade citrus mint tea, 1 bag of peach tranquility tea, a packet of honey and peppermint syrup which is a ton of added sugar and where the high sugar content comes from.
Starbucks Medicine Ball Tea Calories:
Nutrition: 130 calories, 30g sugar.
Best best low cal low sugar Starbucks drink alternative: You can get the same health benefits from one bag of Teavana’s jade citrus mint tea, 1 bag of peach tranquility tea, and a packet of fresh lemon and skip the 33g sugar in a grande and over 100 calories! This is a great sugar free Starbucks drink for Winter.
Best Starbucks Drinks: Low Calorie Options
Keep your favorite Starbucks drink but try these healthier, low cal, low sugar Starbucks drinks options. The best Starbucks drinks don’t have to wreck your good intentions. These are the best option for cutting fat, sugar and calories.
- Skip whipped cream, heavy cream or cold foam.
- Use nonfat milk, oat milk or skim milk instead of cream or whole fat milk. Even almond milk can be high in calories and fat.
- Order a Frappuccino light instead of a Frappuccino.
- Ask for your tea to be made from a tea bag and not from syrup.
- Ask for less syrup pumps or choose sugar-free instead of the regular syrup for a sugar free Starbucks drink.
- The best Starbucks drink to me and with some of the lowest calories is their nitro cold brew in the Summer or a hot Americano with sugar free vanilla in Winter.
Photographer: Wenzel Haus
From the best best low cal low sugar Starbucks drinks drinks to their food…
5 Healthy Starbucks Food Swaps
9. Starbucks PB&J protein box:
This muffin sounds and looks healthy with all of the seeds and wholesome color and has some protein, but the sugar and fat content put it on the worst choices list.
Alternative: Fresh Blueberries and Honey Greek Yogurt Parfait
Nutrition: 240 cals, 42g carbs, 2.5g fat, 14g protein
This non-fat Dannon® Greek yogurt is layered with fresh, seasonal blueberries, pure honey and crunchy honey oat granola. It’s equally filling but almost half the calories, ⅛th of the fat and twice the protein. Eat smarter not less.
11. Starbucks Pumpkin bread
This loaf looks so innocent, it doesn’t even have any frosting! But somehow still manages to have a high amount of fat and calories. So does their pumpkin scone. If you have to have it, consider sharing, if you do sharing. I can’t say I blame you if you don’t.
12. Starbucks Chocolate Croissant
Nutrition: 340, 20g fat , 38g carbs, 5g protein
Alternative: Half that with Starbucks Dark Choc Grahams, 140 cals, 18g carb, 2g protein, 8g fat.
Now, if this was in a bakery in Europe on vacation, I’d say “screw it” because they really are worth the fat and calories and I’m on vacation. But for a cold, stodgy one at Starbucks, I’ll pass thanks.
13. Starbucks worst breakfast sandwich: Double-Smoked Bacon, Cheddar & Egg Sandwich
Nutrition: 510 cals, 28g fat, 42g carb, 22g protein
This is the unhealthiest of all of Starbucks hot breakfasts!
Alternative: The Healthiest Starbucks Breakfast Sandwiches – Low Calorie Starbucks Food Options
Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon & Cage-Free Egg White Sandwich (230 cals, 28g carbs, 5g fat, 18g protein).
Spinach, Feta & Cage-Free Egg White Wrap. This is my personal go-to as the tomatoes and feta give it such a great flavor and it’s not dry or soggy. I’m a total texture person, and the protein content is also great. The best Starbucks drink to go with this is a strong black Americano.
280 cals, 34g carbs, 20g protein, 8g fat.
Conclusion: The Best Starbucks Drinks and Food
Hopefully I’ve not scared you or put you off your favorite Starbucks treats. Life’s too short not to enjoy the best Starbucks drinks occasionally, but it’s also too precious not to take care of our health. I’m just trying to help us all make healthier choices for our daily habits.
What are the best Starbucks drinks you’ve tried?
If you found this article helpful, please like and share with the coffee and Starbucks lovers in your lives.
Healthy Starbucks recipe to try at home
One of my favorite desserts at Starbucks used to be their Cranberry Bliss Bar but I think they changed their recipe as it’s greasier than I remember it being. So I created my own healthier version of it. Here’s the healthier cranberry bliss bar dupe recipe.
Until next week…
Starbucks nutrition | Some photos are my own and some are Starbucks stock photos.
Make your favorite Starbucks recipes at home
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Eve Dawes is a Blogger, Podcaster, Mrs. England World 2020, a WBFF Pro Diva, SAG-AFTRA actress, NASM certified Personal Trainer, Founder of Dawes Custom Cosmetics and GlamourandGains.com. Eve's also the host of BFF (beauty, fitness & fashion) segment on Spill The Tea Live! The show for British Expats. Eve has over 15 years experience in the fashion world, is an avid traveller and cruelty-free beauty advocate.