After many years of being a regular Starbucks drinker, I started working there. When I learned how to make the drinks, I subsequently learned the best way to reduce the calories of almost every drink there. Here are a few tips for others on how to reduce calories on just about any drink at the popular coffee shop.
Although not all drinks come with whipped cream, this is probably the most important recommendation if your drink does included whipped cream. Store-bought whipped cream is a low calorie treat, but Starbucks' homemade whipped cream is chock full of about 100 calories per serving - and a serving is that little dollop they put on top of your average drink.
Espresso has zero calories, and the 2% milk used in Starbucks drinks has 121 calories per 8oz. It's the flavored syrups that add calories to your drink, and Starbucks uses way more than necessary. A 12oz tall drink gets 3 pumps of syrup. The calorie count varies based on what type of drink you order, but the easiest way to cut your calories is to order half the syrup. You don't need to know the number of pumps if you just ask for half the normal amount. Unless you are stickler for sweet drinks, it may even make your drink taste better.
A single 8oz serving of nonfat milk contains 86 calories compared to the 121 in 2% milk. Nonfat milk is one of the best ways to reduce your calories without changing the flavor of the drink too much. The texture may be a bit different and you're drink might taste a bit thinner, but you won't have to lose the syrup.
. . . if you don't mind artificial sweeteners. Skinny drinks use zero or low calorie syrups and non-fat milk. If you can't give up the sweetness of all those syrup pumps, this is a great way to reduce your calories. This calorie-cutting combination gives customers the lowest calorie count. If you don't want to give up 2% milk, request your drink with sugar-free syrup instead of "skinny."
If your drink contains white mocha syrup or the seasonal favorite, eggnog, you should know that these are two of the highest calorie ingredients on the Starbucks menu. While regular mocha can be made "skinny," there's no low calorie substitute for white mocha. The only way to cut calories and enjoy white mocha is to cut the syrup. The seasonal eggnog latte is the only drink containing eggnog, although Starbucks will make any drink for you with eggnog (while it's available!) Try your hardest to avoid it though if you're trying to cut calories because even without syrup, a grande eggnog latte contains 460 calories, making it one of the highest calorie drinks on the menu.
Iced coffee without syrup (or with few pumps or sugar free syrup) is also a very low calorie drink because it contains only the milk you add to it. Another thing to avoid, of course, is requesting extra syrup or milk with more calories (whole or half and half.)
Remember that you can also use most of these tips at other coffee houses by altering them slightly. Whipped cream is almost always house-made, so it's best to avoid it. Nonfat milk is universally calorie-cutting, and if you ask for your drink with less syrup or simply "less sweet," the barista will use less calorie-adding syrup.
The best part about these simple ways to reduce calories in your drink is that you may even find that you appreciate the (more prominent) taste of the coffee more.
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