What to Eat (and Drink!) at Starbucks, According to a Dietitian

by MyFitnessPal
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What to Eat (and Drink!) at Starbucks, According to a Dietitian

For many, a Starbucks run is a bright moment in the day. But when you’re trying to lose weight, the bevy of beverage options—from seasonal whipped frappuccinos to pretty Pink Drinks—can seem counterintuitive to your goals.

The good news? You don’t have to kick your Starbucks habit to stay on track with your weight loss goals. There are many healthy options at Starbucks. We asked Brookell White, a Registered Dietitian (RD) that works with MyFitnessPal, for advice on navigating the menu and customizing Starbucks orders to support your health goals.

Criteria for Healthy Choices at Starbucks

According to White, the worries people have about what’s on the Starbucks menu are likely no different than any other restaurant. “Common concerns while eating out include overeating, finding balanced meals or nutrient-rich options, and avoiding too much of certain nutrients,” she explains.

For drinks, focus on options that are lower in:

  • Calories
  • Sugar
  • Saturated Fat

For food, look for menu items that contain a good amount of:

  • Fiber (e.g. Whole Grains)
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Healthy fats
  • Protein

And, if possible, try to choose items lower in saturated fat, sodium, refined carbohydrates, sugar, and calories.

Then ask yourself: what can I add to my meal or alter to improve the nutritional value?

“This might look like adding fruits and vegetables to your order, or adding a lean protein or complex carbohydrate in place of a fattier meat or refined carbohydrate,” says White.

If this seems complicated, you can try using an app like MyFitnessPal. It will help you understand the nutrients in your food and drinks, so you can make better choices.

What to Eat (and Drink!) at Starbucks, According to a Dietitian

What a Registered Dietitian’s Orders at Starbucks 

Still looking for a go-to list of healthy Starbucks food and beverages you can order with ease? Here are White’s healthy picks off the Starbucks menu (with vegan and vegetarian options, too):

Coffee

  • Black Coffee with a splash of soy milk or low-fat milk (lower in calories, a good source of protein)
  • Cappuccino or Latte with alternative milk and 1 pump (two for larger sizes) of syrup OR one packet of honey (around 8-12g of sugar and 30-45 kcals/packet) for reduced sugar
  • Honey Almond Milk Flat White with 1-2 fewer pumps of the honey blend for reduced sugar
  • Iced Coffee with a Cold Foam with only 1 pump of flavor to cut sugar content in half (or more for larger sizes!) and reduce calories
  • Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew with only 1 pump of flavor to cut sugar content in half (or more for larger sizes!) and reduce calories

Tea

  • Chai Latte with only 1 pump chai and a splash of 1% milk or soy milk to reduce sugar and calorie content
  • Hot or Iced Unsweetened Tea
  • London Fog
  • Royal English Breakfast Tea

Depending on the size of your drink, add 1-2 pumps of vanilla to the last three options, plus 1% milk or soy milk for some protein. These all have fewer calories and sugar than your typical fully sweetened, blended beverage.

Breakfast

High in protein: 

  • Turkey bacon, cheddar & egg white sandwich (17g protein)
  • Vegetarian: Spinach, feta & egg white wrap (20g protein)
  • Vegetarian: Egg white & roasted red pepper egg bites (12g protein)

Wheat or whole grain options: 

  • Turkey bacon, cheddar & egg white sandwich (3g fiber)
  • Vegetarian: Spinach, feta & egg white wrap (3g fiber)
  • Vegan: Rolled & steel-cut oatmeal (4g fiber; add blueberries and nuts for more)

Snacks 

High in protein: 

  • Vegan: Squirrel Brand Fruit & Nut Blend (4g/package)
  • Country Archer Hickory Smoked Turkey Jerky (11g/serving)
  • String Cheese (7g/serving)
  • Any Protein Box (20-26 g/box)

Wheat or whole grain options:

  • Vegetarian: Starbucks Butter Popcorn (3g fiber)

Additional Healthy Drink Customization Tips

Don’t see your favorite drink listed above but still curious how you can make it healthier? Good news: You can customize pretty much anything at Starbucks.

Here are a few basic tips to make sure your beverage aligns with your nutrition goals:

Choose an alternative to whole milk or cream

  • 1% Non-fat milk: ~90 kcal, 8-9g of protein
  • Unsweetened almond milk: 30-40 kcal, 1-2g of protein
  • Unsweetened soy milk: 70-90 kcal (but I have seen higher), 7g of protein
  • Unsweetened coconut milk: 35-50 kcal, 0-1g
  • Oatly original: 120 kcal, 3g protein

Reduce your pumps, drink size and whipped cream

Most of the sugar comes from the pumps of flavoring used in almost every beverage. Try using only 1 pump for a tall and 1-2 pumps for a grande or venti. To reduce sugar and calories, you may consider resisting the larger drink size and skipping whipped cream. Ordering light cold foam can also be helpful.

Use the MyFitnessPal app to track your goals

Non-fat milk vs soy milk? One pump vs none? Customization options can be overwhelming, but MyFitnessPal’s database of more than 19 million foods can help you decide how to customize your orders to work with your personal goals.

The Bottom Line: Don’t Give Up Your Daily Fix

Be more mindful that your menu choices align with your goals, weight loss or otherwise.

“There are many options at Starbucks, many of which can be included in a balanced diet,” says White. “Small changes can improve the nutrient profile of your meal or beverage and allow you to still eat the foods you enjoy.”

Still need help planning your next Starbucks order? Download the MyFitnessPal app today.

About the Author

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal provides powerful tools that make it easier for anyone to live a healthier life by tracking their meals and physical activity. Make healthy choices and visit the MyFitnessPal blog and download MyFitnessPal (if you haven’t already).

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