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Nutritionists Reveal the Healthiest Ways to Hack the Starbucks Menu

We spoke to top nutritionists to get the skinny on how to hack the Starbucks menu without sacrificing flavor.

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Spoon filled with sugarPhototasty/Shutterstock

When in doubt, go half

“A grande mocha has 35 grams of sugar in it,” explains Erica Giovinazzo, MS, RD, CSSD, a Los Angeles-based nutritionist. “That’s eight teaspoons of sugar! Some of it comes from the milk itself but not that much. If you’re getting any kind of sweetener, go with half the number of pumps.”

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FrappuccinoShutterstock / Marcus Hsieh

Skip the fraps altogether, actually

“Sorry to burst your bubble, but a regular frappuccino on the Starbucks menu has way more sugar than you think,” says Erica. “Would you eat TWO Snickers bars?” She says that you can easily hack your craving for cold, sweet coffee by opting for a grande iced vanilla latte to cut the sugar content by more than half while still slurping in a sweet, refreshing caffeine boost.

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Iced coffeeShutterstock / antpkr

Add ice to just about everything you order.

“Having your drink iced is an easy way to cut calories,” shares Stephanie Greenspan, MS, RD. “The space for ice takes away some of the milk and automatically cuts down on the calories.” Plus when it melts, it adds an extra boost of slow hydration, which is great for counteracting some of the negative side effects of caffeinated drinks.

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Fresh mixed fruitShutterstock / AndrewL9

Add fresh fruit

It may sound crazy, but you can and should add some of the fresh fruit options to your regular Starbucks menu blended beverages when they’re available. “They typically have fresh strawberries and lime available to be added to certain drinks,” says Greenspan. This can up the nutrient and fiber content of your favorite drink while cutting back the need for refined sugars and added fats.

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cappuccinoShutterstock / Boiarkina Marina

Cappuccino is a better choice than a latte

“Get a cappuccino rather than a latte,” explains Greenspan. “With the extra foam you can easily cut 40 calories off your drink, and that adds up.”

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Man ordering Starbucks drinkShutterstock / baranq

Be wary of the secret menu orders

Sure, all those Starbucks secret menu items are exciting and tasty, but to make healthy drinks at Starbucks a reality, Greenspan suggests watching the number of syrup pumps your drink might have—which is a whopping four per flavor, by the way. And the secret items add a few? Yikes! “Rather than getting a syrup-sweetened drink, either get one to two pumps (at 20 calories a pump) instead of the usual four.” If you’re ordering some type of magical unicorn mocha off the Starbucks secret menu, just know that you could be ordering hundreds of unnecessary calories.

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Coffee covered in whipped creammpessaris/Shutterstock

Just skip the whip

No one likes to pass up the creamy goodness, but that whipped cream will jack up the numbers, fast. “Whipped cream easily adds 50-100 calories per drink,” explains Greenspan.

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Two people sitting at table drinking coffeeShutterstock / DisobeyArt

Pack more into a smaller cup

For cappuccino and latte lovers who love a grande or venti, try going down a cup size but order the same number of shots. That decreases the milk and sweetener, says shares Michelle Goldberg, an EQUINOX personal trainer with a degree in nutrition. “I take two shots in a tall latte.” This nifty little trick will still give you the coffee-jolt need while shaving calories.

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Starbucks now offers a zero-calorie natural sweetener

Want to limit the calorie load but keep the sweetness? Leery of the artificial sugar world? Goldberg suggests swapping your normal sugar for the new Stevia-based sweetener on the Starbucks menu.

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Person pouring milk into their coffeeShutterstock / YKTR

Go light or skim with your milk choices

Goldberg reminds us all to make subtle improvements to our milk choices when it comes to ordering our over-the-top Starbucks creations, because swapping regular milk for skim can actually shave as much as 80 calories off a drink.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber is an expert in gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.