If you’ve already tried our nutritionist-approved Starbucks orders and are looking for more healthy picks at the coffee chain, you’re in luck! Starbucks carries a wide variety of ingredients and they have no problem making anything a customer requests. The downside: Lines can get pretty long with all the “hold the whip,” “light ice” customizations going on. The upside: Your choices are practically limitless.
At the same time, that can be a bit overwhelming. To help you out, we’re sharing some secret and some not-so-secret ways for you to save calories and lose weight at Starbucks. Next time you’re there, try one of our suggested orders below. And after your coffee run, why not read up on these 37 Worst Breakfast Habits for Your Waistline?
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Starbucks always manages to take something healthy and transform it into a calorie- and sugar-filled diet bomb. And that’s exactly what they did with their drinks that contain matcha, a concentrated Japanese green-tea powder that's currently taking the healthy food scene by storm. Instead of offering traditional matcha tea, which is made by mixing water with matcha powder, Starbucks incorporated the superfood into their waist-widening Frapps and lattes. The good news is, you can get your hands on matcha tea the way it was intended to be sipped. Just tell the barista you’d like “unsweetened matcha tea powder mixed with hot water.”
Espresso-Banana Protein Smoothie
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After a tough workout, feeling tired and depleted is to be expected. Luckily, there’s an easy way to refuel your depleted glycogen stores, rebuild the muscle you’ve broken down and give yourself a burst of energy: sip an Espresso-Banana Protein Smoothie. It’s not on the menu, though, so you’ll have to tell the barista what ingredients go into the mix. It’s simply whey protein, a banana, a shot of espresso, ice and water. It’s simple but delicious.
Short- Sized Cups
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In its early days, Starbucks served just two sizes: an 8-ounce short and a 12-ounce tall. Over time, however, the 16-ounce grande, 20-ounce venti and 31-ounce trenta each made their debut. To keep the menu board clean and concise, the trenta and short got the axe—but the unlisted cups are still available in every Starbucks location. Opting for an 8-ounce Caffè Mocha over a grande (arguably the most popular size) saves you 160 waist-widening calories, 6 grams of artery-clogging fat and 17 grams of sugar.
Cinnamon & Banana Oatmeal
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Starbucks offers two types of oatmeal: the Classic Whole-Grain variety (which comes with dried fruit, a nut medley and brown sugar as optional toppings) and the Hearty Blueberry Whole-Grain (which comes with with blueberries, a nut and seed medley, and agave syrup). But you can also ask for the oatmeal sans toppings and customize it yourself with a banana (sold separately at the register) and cinnamon from the milk-and-sugar station. The two add-ins serve up a host of health benefits: bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that keeps bloating at bay by excreting sodium, and cinnamon keeps blood sugar steady, aiding appetite control.
Steamed Almond Milk with Cocoa Powder
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A Grande Hot Chocolate with 2% milk and whipped cream is a staggering 400 calories, has 10 grams of saturated fat (50 percent of your recommended intake for the entire day), and contains 43 grams of sugar (that’s just 7 grams shy of the FDA’s recommended 50-gram daily limit of added sugars). Instead, Willow Jarosh, MS, RD, CDN, and Co-Founder of C&J Nutrition, says she goes for something a little lighter: steamed almond milk with cocoa powder. "This is my go-to when I'm traveling and want something soothing but not caffeinated to sip on my flight or a layover. I ask for a steamed almond milk and then go to the additions station and sprinkle on a heap of cocoa powder and cinnamon, stir it in, and sip away. It's not sweet but it's really flavorful." Plus, it saves you 27 grams of sugar!
A Tall Iced Tea In a Trenta or Venti Cup
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Follow the advice of this Instagrammer and cut down on sugar while keeping yourself hydrated: Order a Tall Strawberry Acai Refresher in a Venti or Trenta cup and fill the rest up with water. It will have fewer calories and sugar and is cheaper for the same amount of liquid! If you want to save on sugar even more, you can request the unsweetened version of this fruity drink.
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Nothing can drain your energy and make you feel crummy like a cold. Instead of moping around the house, take a trip to Starbucks and order this immensely popular secret menu item. (Starbucks even shared the recipe on their Instagram!) This "Cold Buster" is made by combining ½ steamed lemonade, ½ hot water, and a tea bag each of Jade Citrus Mint green tea and Peach Tranquility herbal tea. If you want to add some honey, we recommend cutting down the steamed lemonade to ¼ of your cup to keep sugar low. The vitamin C from the lemons will help kick your immune system into gear, and the antimicrobial properties of the honey will help battle away bacteria.
Blueberry Protein Smoothie
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Many of Starbucks' smoothies include sugar-filled sauces, juices and purees that won't do your waistline or health any favors. So instead of ordering one of the smoothies the coffee chain has concocted, grab a pack or two of blueberries from the refrigerator case, hand it to your barista and request a custom drink to be made by blending the fruit with whey protein, ice and either water or milk. The combination of natural sugar and protein in this drink is an ideal post-workout pick-me-up, and it’s an easy alternative when you can’t get to your go-to smoothie from a dedicated juice shop.
DIY ‘Light’ Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino
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According to Starbucks baristas, the easiest way to save calories when ordering a Frappuccino is to cut back on the default whole milk option and ask for no whip. No whip cuts 120 calories right off the bat when ordering a Grande, 16-oz drink, and switching to almond milk saves another 30 calories and 3 grams of sugar. And skip the "Coffee Frappuccino Syrup," which is just loaded with sugar and artificial flavors. (P.S. The light version of this syrup is made with the same ingredients plus the zero-calorie sweetener Stevia.)
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Thanks to the Teavana Shaken Berry Sangria Herbal Tea and Strawberry Acai Starbucks Refreshers, Starbucks carries both blackberries and strawberries. Ask your barista to combine the two with some almond milk and their protein powder instead of using the “Strawberry Base” from the smoothie menu. It’s just reconstituted strawberry puree with white grape juice, and accounts for a whopping 41 grams of sugar per serving. And if you’re looking for a few more smoothie options, why not check out these 25 Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothies.