What's the first thing you think of when you roll out of bed in the morning? If your answer is coffee, you're not alone. While it's tempting to grab an overloaded Frappuccino on the way to the office to get you through the morning, the sweet treat is packed with fat, sugar, and calories and is best left to special occasions.
When it comes to your daily brew, trying to be a smidge healthier will do your body good, and Carolyn Brown, registered dietitian for Food Trainers, as well as Keri Glassman, registered dietitian and founder of The Nutritious Life, know exactly which drinks should become your go-tos - and which should get the boot.
Before heading to Starbucks, remember these three golden rules:
Avoid sweeteners at all costs. Syrups, both real and artificial, skyrocket your drink to meal-like proportions. And with that many chemicals in one sitting, it triggers sweets craving for the rest of the day.
Stick to the 60-100 calorie range. Consider it the safe zone that won't derail your diet. If the local 'Bucks doesn't have calories listed on the menu, opt for tall and grande sizes (sorry, venti). And you're only allowed one refill - max.
Get back to basics. Coffee, tea, espresso, and cappuccino are all great, healthy options. If you're really watching your overall calorie and sugar intake, you can use healthy add-ons like cinnamon or nutmeg to give it some punch.
Now that those tips are converted to memory, it's time for the fun stuff. While these definitely aren't the healthiest drinks to walk the face of the planet (you know, if drinks could walk), Glassman says they're healthier, and drinking one won't be the end of the universe.
Healthier Drinks to Order at Starbucks
1. Teavana Shaken Ice Passion Tango Tea. Ask for the unsweetened version of this fruity drink. It's already packed with zest, so there's no need for sugar or syrup.
2. Iced Coffee. You can't go wrong with this favorite drink. Brown recommends drinking it sans sweet stuff, or Stevia if you must, and using a little almond, soy, or coconut milk for flavor instead.
3. Very Berry Hibiscus Refreshers. Berries give this drink a sweet flavor and the green coffee extract provides a caffeinated boost.
4. Orange Mango Smoothie. Glassman says this is better as a snack, not a drink, but hey - it's better than the cupcakes being passed around your office.
5. Classic Chai Tea Latte. While this drink is higher than the calorie range suggested, you can ask for it without the added sweetener to put it back in guilt-free territory.
6. Brewed Coffee. This classic drink will never go out of style, plus there are loads of health benefits to drinking a daily cup of joe. If you're looking for an extra energy boost, choose the blonde roast, which Brown says is super caffeinated.
7. Skinny Vanilla Latte. You can have this cold or hot - just make sure to skip the added pumps of sweetener and use Stevia instead.
8. Red Eye. It's not listed on the menu, but this added shot of espresso in your coffee will give you an extra jolt without upping your drink size.
9. Cappuccino. It may seem counterintuitive, but Brown says it's best to opt for whole milk over the low-fat or skim variety here, thanks to the added nutrients. Or, go with soy, coconut, or almond milk to cut down even more.
10. Pineapple Kona Pop Brewed Tea. Looking for drink options with brewed-in flavor, like this zesty tea, is an easy low-cal option. It's rich in flavor and caffeine-free - perfect for an after work treat.
11. Caffè Americano. This drink is simply water and espresso, making it a great option if you like strong coffee and loads of caffeine.
12. Coffee Mini Frappuccino. While this drink definitely breaks the added sweetener rule, it's the best option if you're going to indulge in a Frappuccino. Go for the whole milk option, which has added nutrients, and ask for the 120-calorie mini size.
13. Ombré Pink Drink. The pink drink everyone is going crazy for is now officially part of Starbucks' menu, and it's actually pretty healthy. The ombré beverage - made with a coconut milk base - will only cost you 100 calories. And that's for a grande. (Gasp.)
14. Violet Drink. Another day, another Starbucks beverage almost too pretty to sip. This one's full of blackberries and creamy coconut milk, making it taste more like a guilt-free dessert.
15. Strawberry Açaí Starbucks Refreshers. A new take on the classic Refreshers, this drink is flavored with strawberries, passion fruit, and açaí. Plus, you'll get a boost of caffeine from the green coffee extract.
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