How To Order A Healthier Starbucks Drink, According To Our Dietitian

From the once-famous Unicorn Frappuccino to their fall-favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte, Starbucks has something to offer every coffee lover who pulls up to their drive-thru window. However, while their beverages may come with sugar and spice and everything nice, healthier items may feel harder to spot on the menu

"While it's not always helpful to label foods as strictly healthy or unhealthy, there are many ways to customize your Starbucks drink to better align with your nutritional goals," registered dietitian Steph Grasso told Health Map in an exclusive interview. Modifying the ingredients in your preferred coffee beverage is one of the most effective ways to support your personal nutrition needs, she explained. 

First up, is milk. "If you're aiming to lower saturated fat intake, consider switching from whole milk to 2%, non-fat, soy, or almond milk," Grasso stated. Alternatively, almond milk and coconut milk are two delicious options that are great for individuals who are mindful of calorie intake. If the creamy texture is what you love most about coffee, however, try opting for oat milk or whole milk, which can help offset coffee's naturally bitter flavor. Having thoroughly tackled milk, Grasso then went on to share tips about how to modify the sugar content in different Starbucks drinks.

Ask for fewer syrup pumps to reduce added sugar content

Usually the work of flavored syrups, Starbucks has no shortage of sweet, caffeinated treats to choose from. If you are looking to keep added sugar to a minimum, however, Grasso suggested asking for fewer syrup pumps in your drink of choice. "For example, a standard Grande White Chocolate Mocha typically contains four pumps of syrup, totaling about 20 grams of sugar," she told us. "By reducing this to two pumps, you could decrease the sugar content by approximately 10 grams, which is huge!" In addition to decreasing the amount of added sugar, if your nutritional goals include weight management, cutting the number of syrup pumps in half also lowers the number of calories in the drink, Grasso added. 

What's great is that customers can easily play around with this formula, depending on what kind of coffee drink they order, the type of milk added, or whether they want any toppings. While some may prefer to forgo the caramel and chocolate sauce altogether, Grasso shared that she's a fan of whipped cream. To minimize the added sugar and saturated fat content of her White Chocolate Mocha, Grasso explained that she'll order whipped cream, but will ask for only two pumps of flavored syrup and sub in non-fat milk instead.

Consider downsizing your Starbucks drink order

Starbucks also caters to how much coffee people drink on a daily basis. Coffee fanatics might opt for a 20-fluid-ounce Starbucks Venti order, while those who are more caffeine-sensitive might prefer a Starbucks Tall order, which contains only 12 fluid ounces of coffee (via TODAY). If you tend to order larger drink sizes, switching to a smaller drink size can be a great way to support your nutritional goals if you don't want to change the milk or sugar content. "This would reduce the intake of saturated fat, sugars, and overall calories without sacrificing the flavors you crave," Grasso told us. In addition, changing up your drink size allows you to maintain a healthy balance of energy each day.

Referencing the nutrition facts of your Starbucks drink can give you a better idea of how you can make your coffee beverages best support your ever-changing dietary objectives. But how do you do that when there's no nutrition label on your to-go cup? Grasso had that covered by sharing a helpful PDF document from Starbucks that outlines all the nutrition facts of each of their drinks. "Personally, I find that my Starbucks order varies depending on my daily nutritional goals, and using the nutrition label is a valuable tool that guides my choices, ensuring that they align with my health and wellness plans," Grasso concluded.

To connect with Steph Grasso, follow her on TikTok or Instagram