I’m so excited to bring you this post from guest blogger and PowerFull Fitness lady – Mary Jenny! Mary Jenny and I have done a lot of chatting about sugar and sugar intake. She is a French Pastry Culinary School graduate – this girl knows her stuff. I asked her to help me out for how to enjoy a coffee treat but keep me on track too! Here is what she has to say!!
I love coffee! I realize not everyone feels that way, but it’s something I truly enjoy. Coffee itself isn’t a bad thing. Research has shown it has many health benefits. I’m not going to cover those here, but if you’re curious, WebMD has some good information. What I will tell you is although it can be good for you in moderation, many of us add so much sugar, chocolate, cream/milk it becomes a calorie and fat nightmare. Our daily cup of coffee can easily be made healthier by less sugar and cream, but what about all those fun drinks at the local coffee shop? Most of what I’m going to explain pertains to Starbucks, but can be applied most anywhere. If you’ve worked at Starbucks and things are different please know this is what I’ve learned from personal experience and their available nutrition tables.
So where to begin… Let’s start with caffeine. The most typical specialty hot drinks ordered begin with espresso. A tall (or small) comes with one shot and a grande (medium) and venti (large) have two shots unless the venti is iced and then it has three shots. You can always increase or decrease the number of shots in a drink, but did you know you can make one or all of them decaf? When I was pregnant and nursing, I loved iced coffee, but my kids couldn’t handle the caffeine. I learned that most coffee shops don’t offer iced decaf coffee but you can order an iced decaf americano (espresso shot topped off with water). The same can be applied to hot beverages, so if you prefer less caffeine you can always substitute some or all the shots.
Next, most espresso-based drinks (latte, cappuccino, macchiato, etc.) contain some sort of milk. Your options include non-fat, 2% or whole milk as well as soy or coconut milk. Unless you request something different, Starbucks makes their drinks with 2% milk. The lowest calorie option is non-fat milk. The remaining options from lowest to highest are as follows: coconut, soy, 2%, and whole. Keep in mind that each option will have a slightly different texture in your mouth.
Now for the biggie, syrup! One of the easiest calorie savers is to use sugar-free syrup and non-fat milk and Starbucks typically refers to these as “skinny” drinks. The drinks with sugar-free syrup and non-fat milk are the lowest calorie options on their menus; unfortunately, I really don’t like how the sugar-free syrups taste. A talle flavored latte has 3 pumps, a grande has 4 and a venti has 5. Each pump of regular syrup contains about 20 calories, so one of the first things you can do to experiment is reduce the number of pumps in your cup. I always order mine with half the syrup. So what about those drinks that aren’t lattes like mochas and macchiatos? Well, Starbucks has a “skinny” version of these, too. If you don’t want the skinny version, you can always reduce the number of pumps of syrup or order it with non-fat milk and skip the whipped cream. The drinks with chocolate have a lot of calories; so unless you have the calories to splurge, it might be best to pass on those. So, as good as it tastes, the White Chocolate Mocha is one of the worst offenders on the menu.
Keep in mind, all of these techniques can be applied to iced beverages as well. I’ll leave you with a little something to consider as you’re now exploring your own options. My favorite drink is a grande latte. This means it has 2% milk and no syrup. It contains 190 calories, 7 grams of fat and 17 grams of sugar. My other go to drink is a non-fat milk, 2-pump vanilla latte with 160 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 26 grams of sugar. Although my favorite has more calories and fat, it keeps me full much longer and has less sugar. It is also creamier which is something I enjoy while drinking coffee.
As I continue on my journey to be more healthy, I realize my Starbucks habit shouldn’t be a daily habit, but I can have it for a treat and make it a little more healthy!
Thank you for your valuable input Mary Jenny! Loved learning from you!