Weighing In: The Healthiest of Starbucks

Each week, our own fitness fanatic Bethany Shirilla will explore the latest workout crazes, diet fads and dish out tips for healthy living. Managing your schoolwork is tough enough- let us take care of your health.

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Like any average girl at Penn State, we wait in the notoriously long HUB Starbucks line for our favorite cup of coffee. If you’re health conscious like me, the amount of calories, fat and sugar in your drink always crosses your mind.

After noticing the nutrition information in a pocket-sized card at the counter, I decided it was time to end my worries and investigate the truth behind my favorite drinks.

One of my absolute flavored drinks for the cold weather is the White Chocolate Mocha. The reason I crave this drink is simply for the white chocolate taste you can’t get anywhere else. Sadly though, I found that my go-to mocha wins the Starbucks calorie contest.

A 16 oz. grande contains 470 calories and 170 of those calories are from fat. And to top it off, 59 grams of sugar is just as disappointing.

Every girl’s fall favorite, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, only comes around once a year. And as soon as it does, that’s the drink we order. This seasonal latte (grande 16 oz.) contains 380 calories. Although this also ranks high in the espresso beverages category, it can be greatly reduced.

If you order a Pumpkin Spice Latte with nonfat milk, rather than two percent, and skip the whipped cream, it brings it down to 260 calories. The best part about this quick fix is that switching milks doesn’t alter the taste— you hardly notice.

The Very Berry Hibiscus contains real fruit blackberries, made with green coffee extract.  I love this drink in the summer simply for its natural fruity flavor and iced chill. With the Starbucks’ drink list ranging in the hundreds, I was glad to find this drink (grande 16 oz.) is only 70 calories.

If you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up drink, Starbucks has a list of about 20 drinks all under 200 calories. Both hot and cold in tall sizes, many of our favorite drinks are on this list. The Nonfat Iced Vanilla Latte has 120 calories, which is comparable to the Nonfat Caramel Macchiato with 140 calories.

Starbucks has endless possibilities of warm and cold brewed coffee, espressos and teas. Simple alterations to your drinks, such as substituting two percent milk for nonfat milk and sugar-free options, can greatly reduce calories to make your drink more ideal. Saying “hold the whip” will also be in your best interest.

We tend to be health conscious in so many other aspects—don’t blow it all on one Starbucks drink. If you have any questions, the staff is very helpful. They know their drinks, so don’t be shy to ask.

Photo by Victoria Oberdorf