Nutritionists Reveal the Healthiest Ways to Hack the Starbucks Menu

Move over, cream-filled fraps and syrup-loaded lattes, because healthy drinks at Starbucks actually exist. We spoke to top nutritionists to get the skinny on how to hack the Starbucks menu without sacrificing flavor.

When in doubt, go half

sugarPhototasty/Shutterstock
"A grande mocha has 35 grams of sugar in it," explains Erica Giovinazzo, MS, RD, CSSD, a Los Angeles-based nutritionist. "That's eight teaspoons of sugar! Some of it comes from the milk itself but not that much. If you're getting any kind of sweetener, go with half the number of pumps." Here are some other ways to cut the sugar.

Skip the fraps altogether, actually

frappuccinoMarcus Hsieh/Shutterstock
"Sorry to burst your bubble, but a regular frappuccino on the Starbucks menu has way more sugar than you think," says Erica. "Would you eat TWO snickers bars?" She says that you can easily hack your craving for cold, sweet coffee by opting for a grande iced vanilla latte to cut the sugar content by more than half while still slurping in a sweet, refreshing caffeine boost.

Add ice to just about everything you order.

icedcoffeeantpkr/Shutterstock
"Having your drink iced is an easy way to cut calories," shares Stephanie Greenspan, MS, RD. "The space for ice takes away some of the milk and automatically cuts down on the calories." Plus when it melts, it adds an extra boost of slow hydration, which is great for counteracting some of the negative side effects of caffeinated drinks.

Add fresh fruit

frshfruitAndrewL9/Shutterstock
It may sound crazy, but you can and should add some of the fresh fruit options to your regular Starbucks menu blended beverages when they're available. "They typically have fresh strawberries and lime available to be added to certain drinks," says Greenspan. This can up the nutrient and fiber content of your favorite drink while cutting back the need for refined sugars and added fats.

Content continues below ad

Cappuccino is a better choice than a latte

cappuccinoBoiarkina Marina/Shutterstock
"Get a cappuccino rather than a latte," explains Greenspan. "With the extra foam you can easily cut 40 calories off your drink, and that adds up." Here are some other easy swaps to help cut the calories and up the healthy quotient.

Be wary of the secret orders

baristabaranq/Shutterstock
Sure, all those Starbucks secret menu items are exciting and tasty, but to make healthy drinks at Starbucks a reality, Greenspan suggests watching the number of syrup pumps your drink might have—which is a whopping four per flavor, by the way. And the secret items add a few? Yikes! "Rather than getting a syrup-sweetened drink, either get one to two pumps (at 20 calories a pump) instead of the usual four." If you're ordering some type of magical unicorn mocha off the Starbucks secret menu, just know that you could be ordering hundreds of unnecessary calories.

Just skip the whip

whipcreammpessaris/Shutterstock
No one likes to pass up the creamy goodness, but that whipped cream will jack up the numbers, fast. "Whipped cream easily adds 50-100 calories per drink," explains Greenspan. If you're looking for dairy alternatives, check these options out.

Pack more into a smaller cup

coffeeDisobeyArt/Shutterstock
For cappuccino and latte lovers who love a grande or venti, try going down a cup size but order the same number of shots. That decreases the milk and sweetener, says shares Michelle Goldberg, an EQUINOX personal trainer with a degree in nutrition. "I take two shots in a tall latte." This nifty little trick will still give you the coffee-jolt need while shaving calories.

Content continues below ad

Starbucks now offers a zero-calorie natural sweetener

steviaHandmadePictures/Shutterstock
Want to limit the calorie load but keep the sweetness? Leery of the artificial sugar world? Goldberg suggests swapping your normal sugar for the new Stevia-based sweetener on the Starbucks menu.

Go light or skim with your milk choices

milkYKTR/Shutterstock
Goldberg reminds us all to make subtle improvements to our milk choices when it comes to ordering our over-the-top Starbucks creations, because swapping regular milk for skim can actually shave as much as 80 calories off a drink.

View as Slideshow

Want to stay smart and healthy?

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.