Nutrition Nightmare: Starbucks Seasonal Drinks

Lake Country Training

Nutrition Nightmare: Starbucks Seasonal Drinks

Black coffee is a relatively healthy, energizing beverage. It enhances memory, improves athletic performance, and helps you get going in the morning or through a sluggish part of your day. Black coffee (or coffee with just a dash of cream and/or sugar) can give you a boost, but not all coffee drinks are created equal.

Check out the Starbucks Seasonal Drinks – THEY ARE A NUTRITION NIGHTMARE! Though we are going to focus on the examples from Starbucks, keep in mind that all of these seasonal drinks ARE created equally – equally unhealthy for your body!

When you dive into the nutrition facts of many of these seasonal beverages, they’re liquid junk food. They are much higher in calories than your average cup of coffee. They also contain insane amounts of added sugar and saturated fat. Many seem to have a tough time conceptualizing just how non-nutritious a beverage can be. Go sit for a few minutes at your local coffee shop if you don’t believe me.

Don’t Sabotage Your Diet

Lets look into why these expensive sugar bombs destroy your chance at a well-balanced diet (all nutrition facts are for beverages made with 2% milk, which is Starbucks’ standard practice unless a customer specifies otherwise). Here we go:

Nutrition DisasterA Venti (20-ounce) Toasted White Chocolate Mocha:

510 calories and a 66 grams of sugar. It also manages to pack 11 grams of saturated fat and 480mg of sodium. It’s hard to see much of a difference between the nutrition facts for this drink and the nutrition facts for a Chocolate Milkshake. You wouldn’t start your day off with a big ice cream shake and expect to feel good, would you? Plenty of people do this sort of thing daily.

Check out the ingredients list:

Milk, Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Sauce [Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Corn Syrup, Water, Cocoa Butter, Natural Flavors, Salt, Gum Arabic, Monoglycerides, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate], Brewed Espresso, Whipped Cream [Cream (Cream, Mono And Diglycerides, Carageenan), Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid)], Candied Cranberry Topping[Sugar, Cranberries, Sodium Citrate].

What the heck is half of that stuff!?!?! Sugar makes three appearances, while corn syrup is essentially a worse form of sugar. Carrageenan is an additive that’s been known to cause inflammation – So Bottoms Up!

How These Beverages Affect Your Health

Regularly choosing high-sugar beverages is obviously unhealthy. It can it lead to poor body composition, it also increases your risk of several unfavorable health outcomes. Regular consumption of beverages high in added sugar has been associated with an increased risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Saturated fat is also a concern with these Starbucks beverages. Eating too much saturated fat increases your risk of high cholesterol, which in turn can have a negative impact on blood flow and oxygen transportation throughout the body.

The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 6% of your daily calories come from saturated fat. For a 2,000-calories-a-day diet, that translates to a limit of 13 grams of saturated fat each day. If you start your morning with a Tall (12-ounce) Brown Sugar Shortbread Latte, you’re instantly up to 9 grams of saturated fat. You’ve essentially already hit your limit and you’re barely awake yet.

Cutting back on the portion size helps make the nutrition facts more manageable, but even a 8-ounce serving can still be plenty problematic. For example, a Short (8-ounce) Gingerbread Latte contains as much saturated fat as 70 Cheetos and as much sugar as 25 jelly beans. Go ahead, scarf down 25 jelly beans and see how that works for you.

It’s not just the holiday drinks though. Remember the Unicorn Frappuccino released last spring? A Grande (16-ounce) Unicorn Frappucino Blended Crème contains 59 grams of sugar. You’d probably be better off eating two candy bars.

The Pumpkin Spice Latte, everyone’s Fall “must have” is also junk food in a cup. A 12-ounce Pumpkin Spice Latte packs in 300 calories, 11 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbohydrates and 39 grams of sugar. How about 1 of those after a hard workout at the gym on the way home? You can undo that last 60 minute workout in about 10 sips.

Bottom Line

My advice: Try to avoid completely. However if you are going to indulge, treat these seasonal beverages like desserts or make it a once a season purchase. An occasional one won’t torpedo your overall diet, but if you’re drinking multiple a week or having them between meals as a “fun snack” you’re setting yourself up for failure and poor body composition.

When in doubt about a drink’s nutrition, google it. The nutrition facts and ingredients list are available for every beverage in every restaurant or shop, and you can see how the nutrition fact change when you adjust size and additions. Black coffee or coffee with a little cream and/or sugar is pretty healthy, but the further a coffee-based drink strays from that formula, the worst its nutrition will often be.

Have questions on how to maintain or even lose weight over the holidays? Let us know – we would love to help you!

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Hope to hear from you!