The days are getting shorter, a cool breeze is beginning to creep into the morning air, and an increasing number of commuters are welcoming Fall with Starbucks' famous pumpkin spice latte. But don’t let the drink’s sweet cinnamon scent distract you from the truth: it’s a nutritional nightmare.
Sure, the ‘Bux released a new recipe for their lucrative drink last year, complete with real pumpkin puree—but you had to know deep down that the drink was still a danger to your diet, right? To show you just how much the seasonal sip can stall your weight loss progress, we’ve calculated how long an average 150-pound person would need to run (at 6 MPH) to “undo” their go-to order. If these scary stats don’t convince you to re-think what goes in your cup, we’re not sure what will. For consistency's sake, we focused primarily on the tall size, which is 12 ounces.
Tall PSL with whole milk and whipped cream
Nutrition: 330 calories, 15 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 180 mg sodium, 40 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 39 g sugar, 11 g protein
Treadmill minutes: 29
You’d have to run for about a half hour to undo this drink’s damage. Although its 39 grams of sugar may actually get you hyper enough to tackle a workout, such a heavy drink is bound to leave you feeling nauseous and regretful. Skip this sugary sip and energize your morning with one of our go-to healthy breakfast ideas, instead!
Tall PSL with whole milk and no whipped cream
Nutrition: 270 calories, 8 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 170 mg sodium, 38 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 37 g sugar, 10 g protein
Treadmill minutes: 24
Since healthy fats have been shown to boost satiety and ward off diseases like diabetes, we’re totally on board with the full-fat dairy movement—but concessions need to be made if you want to stay on track with your diet. Since you’re getting extra calories from the milk, it’s smart to forgo the whipped cream. Leaving off the topping keeps 60 calories and 7 grams of fat out of your cup and saves you 5 minutes on the treadmill. While this is a step in the right direction, there are far better—and less sugary— ways to kick off your day.
TALL PSL WITH 2% MILK AND WHIPPED CREAM
Nutrition: 300 calories, 11 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 190 mg sodium, 40 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 39 g sugar, 11 g protein
Treadmill minutes: 26
Sure, 2% milk may be a better option than whole milk in terms of calories and fat, but you’ll still have to dedicate 26 minutes to running off the calories in this cup o’ Joe. For about the same amount of calories, far less sugar, and an added bonus of fiber, you could fill up on Sbux’s dark chocolate and caramelized banana oatmeal for breakfast instead. Nine times out of ten, it’s better to eat your calories than sip them, making the cereal the smarter move.
Tall PSL with 2% milk and no whipped cream
Nutrition: 240 calories, 5 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 180 mg sodium, 38 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 37 g sugar, 11 g protein
Treadmill minutes: 21
Steer clear of the whipped cream, kids. Sure, it’s fluffy and melts in your mouth, but think about how tough the last 5 minutes of a run can be. No sugary topping is worth that kind of huffing and puffing. Next time you order this Fall favorite, remember to hold the topping to cut some unnecessary cals.
Tall PSL with nonfat milk and whipped cream
Nutrition: 260 calories, 6 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 170 mg sodium, 40 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 39 g sugar, 11 g protein
Treadmill minutes: 23
Honestly, what’s the point of asking the barista to craft your order with skim milk if you’re not going to give up the whipped cream? With 260 calories and the equivalent amount of sugar in a can of soda, there are far better ways to caffeinate your day.
Tall PSL with nonfat milk and no whipped cream
Nutrition: 200 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 170 mg sodium, 39 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 38 g sugar, 11 g protein
Treadmill minutes: 18
Choose this fat-free—or as Starbucks fans would call it, “skinny”—option for a lighter caloric load. But remember: just because it's "skinny" doesn't mean it's healthy. Just look at that sugar count!
Tall PSL with soy milk and whipped cream
Nutrition: 300 calories, 10 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 160 mg sodium, 43 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 39 g sugar, 9 g protein
Treadmill minutes: 26
While soy milk is a great option for those who can’t stomach lactose, topping your latte with dairy-based whipped cream can send your tummy into a churning frenzy. And with 39 grams of sugar, this drink is the sugar equivalent of munching on nine sugar cubes. If you wouldn’t dare do that, we suggest saying no to this rendition of the autumn beverage.
Tall PSL with soy milk and no whipped cream
Nutrition: 240 calories, 4 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 150 mg sodium, 42 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 38 g sugar, 9 g protein
Treadmill minutes: 21
Soy milk’s nutty flavor goes hand in hand with the PSL’s nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove nuances, so we can see why you’d be a fan of this combo. This indulgent option has fewer calories and less fat than many of the other variations, so feel free to treat yo’self once or twice this season.
Eat This! Tip
If you decide to indulge in the PSL, remember one thing: size matters. The largest pumpkin spice latte (a venti) with whole milk and whipped cream packs a staggering 520 calories and 64 grams of sugar—which is what you’d find in seven of the chain’s Frappuccino Cookie Straws. An 8-ounce Short PSL made with nonfat milk and no whipped cream, however, has just 130 calories and 24 grams of the sweet stuff. Don’t get us wrong; that’s still a ton of sugar your body doesn't need, but at least it will only take you about 11 minutes on the treadmill to burn it off. As long as you only indulge once or twice this season, we’re giving the short version the green light! Good things really do come in small packages.