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What to Know About Your Favorite Starbucks Drinks

Fancy caffeinated drinks are a favorite among students, but you may not realize how unhealthy they really are. Here is the nutritional scoop on five popular Starbucks beverages, plus breakfast options that are simply better for you.

It may be the end of National Nutrition Month, but it’s important to watch what you put in your body all year long. Here’s what you should know about fancy Starbucks beverages—a favorite among students—and why you should treat yo’ self to them only occasionally.

Coffee is often an inevitable part of the student experience and a common staple of a frazzled high school or college student’s diet. It’s known for its almost-magical powers to wake up even the most tired academic, helping them push through the day (as much as they may not want to). Coffee may seem like a good alternative to a good night’s rest, since it allows students to pull all-nighters and cram before big exams. However, a sugar or caffeine crash usually follows hours later, making them feel worse than before.

Many students look to their local Starbucks as a place for sustenance, reaching for that Grande cup without a second thought. However, since our brains are usually fried with all that information we’ve been trying to cram into our brains, we don’t really notice how unhealthy these drinks are for us. Furthermore, the hefty price tags on this brand-name coffee can add up to a lot of money wasted on empty calories. The following are some of the most popular drinks from Starbucks (Grande size), plus healthier alternatives you can consume at home to save a few dollars and have more energy for the rest of your day.

Caramel Macchiato

A Caramel Macchiato has 250 calories, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and 33 grams of sugar. According to World Health Organization guidelines, the recommended amount of added sugar is 25 grams, so just one of these drinks already exceeds your daily sugar intake level! 

Have this instead

A packet of Belvita breakfast biscuits has about the same amount of calories (230), but only 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 10 grams of sugar. Additionally, these biscuits have 19 grams of whole grain and provide “four hours of nutritious steady energy.” While coffee may wake you up, these biscuits give you the nutrients you need, which is more beneficial than a sugar rush. 

Related: 7 Quick and Delicious Breakfasts to Help You Avoid the Freshman 15

Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino®

Frappuccinos are a great midday pick-me-up or the perfect treat on a hot day, but they have an immense amount of calories (400!!!). Not only that, but this version has 10 grams of saturated fat and (brace yourself) 57 grams of sugar. That’s more than double the recommended daily intake. And this frapp is known for being one of the most basic; the seasonal S’mores Frappuccino has almost 100 more calories and 10 more grams of sugar!

Have this instead

A cup of oatmeal by itself has only 158 calories, so it packs a lot of nutrition in a small amount of calories. If oatmeal sounds bleh, try overnight oats. Overnight oats are basically mix-ins added into to your regular oatmeal—you combine the oats with your favorite toppings plus milk or water, let them sit overnight, and have a ready-to-eat breakfast in the morning. You can add anything you could possibly want, from peanut butter to maple syrup to raisins to chocolate chips. The possibilities are endless—and the Pinterest recipes are too!

Iced Caffè Latte

Even Starbucks’s “healthier” drinks aren’t that healthy at all and shouldn’t be labeled as better-for-you alternatives. This iced drink contains 130 calories, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and 11 grams of sugar. Although this does not exceed the daily intake level for sugar, it is still a considerable amount to have, especially early in the morning. 

Have this instead

One cup of nonfat Greek yogurt has only 100 calories, about half of the sugar (6 grams), and a mere 0.2 grams of saturated fat. You can also mix in fruit or nuts in the yogurt (just make sure you don’t overload it with calories) or buy yogurt that already has fruit mixed in (again, make sure these add-ins aren’t making the yogurt unhealthy).  

Related: 6 Smart Coffee Hacks for College Students

Iced Caramel Brulée Latte

This seasonal drink has 420 calories and 49 grams of sugar, nearly twice the recommended intake. It also contains 15 total grams of fat, 9 of these being saturated fats. This drink does exceed in sweetness—probably due to the insane amount of sugar in it.

Have this instead

If you’re traditional and can’t do mornings without your cereal, try Kashi GoLean Original. This cereal only contains 190 calories per ¾ cup. Plus, Kashi’s 10 grams of fiber are more than the latte’s grand total of 0. This cereal is a flavorful substitute for sugary, unhealthy drinks.

Hot Chocolate

This treat is popular for students who have yet to acquire a taste for coffee. And I’ve got to admit, Starbucks’s (I prefer white) hot chocolate is one of the most heavenly things on this planet. However, 43 grams of sugar and 10 grams of saturated fat (50% of the recommended daily intake) are not so heavenly, and neither is the whopping 400 calorie count.

Have this instead

If it’s warm drinks you’re after, try drinking tea. Most tea bags have very few calories when steeped with water, and even after adding milk and (minimal) sugar, it still doesn’t add up to so much. Tea can be that comforting drink you’re after if you make it right. 

Related: Crafting Your Own Caffeinated Beverages in 5 Easy Steps

Although there are other things you can fill your stomach with in the morning, sometimes you really just need that ubiquitous cup of coffee. If Starbucks is your vice, your best bet is to get a Caffè Americano. This drink has only 15 calories and 0 grams of sugar.

Have a different healthy alternative to pricey, sugary drinks? Share your fave breakfast staple or a Pinterest-worthy recipe with us on social media @CollegeXpress!

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breakfasts coffee food food and beverage health healthy eating National Nutrition Month nutrition student nutrition

About Nathaly Macias

Nathaly Macias is a high school junior who is super excited about college. She is interested in politics, history, and psychology. In the future, she'd like to work for the FBI. :)


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