It comes as a surprise to people just how unhealthy a lot of Starbucks drinks can be, I ranked them all by sweetness and found most of the Venti Frappuccinos have 14 teaspoons of sugar or more in them!
Isn’t that insane?
But luckily there are a few drinks at Starbucks with zero calories, and a few you can get with low calories and low sugar.
The Healthiest Starbucks drinks are either the Iced Passion Tango Tea if you want a cold or the Peach Tranquility Tea if you want a hot drink, both are zero-calorie, zero sugar, and zero caffeine. The healthiest coffee is a cup of Pike Place filter coffee and the healthiest sweet coffee is the Honey Almond Milk Cold Brew at 30 calories in a tall.
If you’re looking to make your current favorite Starbucks order healthier then you can ask for it to be “Skinny” which means the barista will substitute sugar-free syrup and low-fat milk in place of unhealthier ingredients.
The table below is in order of calories but I’ve included the amount of sugar too because low calorie but high in sugar doesn’t lean me towards believing something is healthy, but calories are a lot more reliable so low calorie is still a safe option.
Especially when the Venti-sized drinks can sometimes have 500+ calories!
Best Healthy Low-Calorie Starbucks Drinks Ranked
|Name||Hot or Cold||Calories (Tall)||Sugar (grams)|
|Iced Passion Tango Tea||Cold|
|Peach tranquility Tea||Hot|
|Pike Place® Roast (Black Filter)||Hot|
|Honey Almondmilk Cold Brew||Cold|
|Espresso Con Panna||Hot|
|Iced London Fog Tea Latte (sugar-free syrup)||Cold|
|Iced Peach Green tea||Cold|
|Iced Guava Black Tea||Cold|
|Nitro Cold Brew with Sweet Cream||Cold|
|Honey Citrus Mint Tea||Hot|
|Skinny caramel macchiato||Hot|
|Caramel Light Frappuccino||Cold|
|Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte||Hot|
1. Iced Passion Tango Tea
The Iced Passion Tango Tea is made up of flavors of hibiscus flower, cinnamon, apple, licorice root, and lemongrass. All infused together and served over ice.
It’s the ideal choice of cold drink if you’re looking to stay healthy, it’s deliciously flavored water that has zero calories, zero sugar, and zero caffeine.
A lot of Starbucks drinks have secret sugar in them, for instance, I was very surprised that the tall size of Starbucks cold brew actually has 3 teaspoonfuls of sugar in it!
So it’s a good thing you checked before ordering.
2. Peach Tranquility Tea
I love a nice cold beverage as much as the next person, but it’s nice to have a hot option too, and I’m going to get to the healthy hot coffee’s in a moment but for now, let’s enjoy a nice cup of fruit tea.
The Peach Tranquility is a blend of peach, candied pineapple, chamomile blossoms, lemon verbena, and rose hips brewed with a teabag.
It tastes sweet (in the way fruit teas can, not in the way a ton of sugar does) while having no sugar present, no caffeine, and no calories, what more could you want if you’re on a diet or just looking for a healthier option.
It gets served with the bag in so you get to decide how strong it is by how long you leave the bag in, and if you order a bigger size it will be served with 2 tea bags.
As a bonus trick, you can order the bigger size with 1 tea bag on the side and have it later on at home. Ideal if you like your tea on the weaker side if you’re swapping from a normally sugary drink though you’ll want both bags left in.
3. Pike Place Roast (Black Filter)
If you’re looking to make your coffee habits healthier you’re going to want to move towards having black coffee. Luckily the Starbucks filter coffee is really nice and a perfect way to start making the change.
If going straight to black seems like it’s going to be a real challenge then you can take it in stages. Starting with a splash of non-fat milk and a couple of sweeteners, as in Splenda or you could get a pump of sugar-free vanilla syrup.
Then slowly start weaning off from there!
But even coffee with a splash of milk and some sugar-free sweetener are leagues of improvement over the vast amount of sugar in other drinks.
4. Honey Almondmilk Cold Brew
The Honey Almondmilk Cold Brew is the healthiest choice of cold coffee you can buy at Starbucks because a tall only has 30 calories and 5 grams of sugar.
This is a good middle ground on the journey to black coffee, the almond milk is lower in calories than cow milk, it’s suitable for vegans, and honey in coffee happens to be completely delicious.
It’s full sugar syrup so it’s the equivalent to adding a teaspoon of sugar to your coffee but the tall only has 1 pump of syrup and because there’s so little milk I still think it’s healthy.
5. Espresso Con Panna
An Espresso Con Panna is Italian for Espresso With Cream and the Starbucks version is served with a dollop of whipped cream on top, it has zero sugar and is only 35 calories.
This takes a lot of the harshness of a straight espresso away, making it lighter and easier to palate if you’re not regularly an espresso drinker.
I also think it makes it much more like a dessert because it’s close to being an affogato which is espresso poured over ice cream.
If you’re looking for a healthy hot coffee pick me up then this is a fantastic choice.
6. Iced London Fog Tea Latte (Sugar-Free Syrup)
The Tall Iced London Fog Tea Latte is made with 3 pumps of vanilla Syrup, steamed milk, and an Earl Grey Tea.
Which is quite a lot of sugar but comes in at 140 calories, which isn’t bad at all.
But if you order the skinny version, with sugar-free vanilla syrup, and non-fat milk this comes out at healthy 40 calories for a tall size.
It tastes quite like a vanilla version of the chai latte, but not quite as sweet. Basically, a vanilla latte made with tea instead of coffee.
Well worth trying.
7. Iced Peach Green tea
I’m not a huge fan of regular green tea, unsweetened and in a glass of hot water. But this is really tasty.
The Starbucks Iced Peach Green tea is made with their green tea blend which includes some spearmint, already an improvement, combined with their peach-flavored juice blend and shaken with ice to give you a delicious ice tea experience.
I said it in a previous article but peach ice tea always reminds me of Liptons ice tea, which while super common in Europe doesn’t seem to be available in the same way in the USA, which is a shame but this is even tastier so it’s no great loss.
It’s only 45 calories, 0g fat, 9 g of sugar, and 20 mg of caffeine. Perfectly refreshing on a cold day.
8. Iced Guava Black Tea
I would have thought this would have more caffeine in it because it’s black tea instead of green tea, but this actually has the same amount of caffeine as the above green tea.
So there you go.
The Iced Guava Black Tea is made with Starbucks’ blend of black teas and guava flavored juice. All this is hand-shaken together with ice.
1 mg more sugar than the green tea above and 5 more calories. So not enough to worry about, I’d just try both and see which one you like more.
9. Nitro Cold Brew with Sweet Cream
The Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew is made in small batches, slow steeped for a smoother taste, and combined with nitrogen to create a sweeter flavor without sugar.
So it’s an excellent choice of cold coffee if you want to be healthy. But I know people love the sweetness so order it with a splash of sweet vanilla cream for that little extra sugar boost and smooth vanilla flavors that always go well in coffee.
If you like the cold brew coffee then you should definitely consider swapping over to the nitro cold brew for its fewer calories and added sweetness.
10. Caffè Misto
The Caffè Misto is an excellent healthy substitute for your regular cappuccino or latte because it’s made with less milk and so has fewer calories.
Misto is Italian for Mixed and is perfectly fitting for this coffee that’s one part black filter coffee and one part steamed milk. It also looks quite a mist like which I enjoy.
If you were making cappuccinos at home without an espresso maker it would taste a lot more like this than it would a regular cappuccino.
Incidentally at a cafe, a cappuccino would be a better choice than a latte because it’s made with less milk, small changes are easy to make and they all add up.
You could get a skinny version with non-fat milk too for even fewer calories but as is it’s only 80 calories in a tall so I think it’s healthy enough. You do need quite a lot of calories to live after all so why not dedicate some of them to your favorite coffee.
11. Honey Citrus Mint Tea
This actually started off as a customer order, one for the so-called Secret Starbucks menu, and it grew in popularity and was loved so much by customers and Starbucks staff alike that it’s been added to the menu!
The Honey Citrus Mint Tea is made with a combo of the mint tea bag and the peach tea bag, mixed with honey blend syrup and steamed lemonade.
It’s a hot tea drink that’s just the right amount of sweet while still being low calories at only 80 calories in a tall. It has a tiny amount of caffeine which I had to dig around to find the honey blend syrup must be the source of the small amount of caffeine.
I’m not sure why it would have caffeine, and I’m not convinced it is… But it’s only 16mg which is about 10% the amount you’d find in a regular cup of coffee, so it’s still a very small amount.
12. Skinny Caramel Macchiato
A Starbucks Skinny Caramel Macchiato is a regular Caramel Macchiato made with sugar-free syrup and non-fat milk.
And with these two very minor changes you reduce the sugar down from 190 calories down to 100 calories and you reduce the sugar from 25g down to 13g. Most of the remaining sugar comes from the milk in this drink.
You can skinny most milk drinks, not all the flavors come as a sugar-free version but if you make the swap to non-fat milk you’re taking a step in the right direction.
13. Caramel Light Frappuccino
Ordering a light version is how you get a skinny version of a frappuccino. But the frappuccinos should largely be ignored if you want a healthy coffee, because the coffee that gets used in a Frappuccino is made into a sugar syrup, so if you have a coffee frappuccino it’s already got 2-5 teaspoons of sugar, before any flavoring as added.
I wanted to have a frappuccino on this list because you can live your life. If you want a frap, I’m not going to stop you.
And a light version helps you cut down the calories by using sugar-free syrup where possible, if it’s caramel, vanilla, or cinnamon dolce flavor, and uses the non-fat milk so you get that win too.
14. Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte
The Skinny version of the Cinnamon Dolce Latte is made with non-fat milk, sugar-free syrup and is served without whipped cream.
The whipped cream is normally the sweetened cream, plus it uses 3 pumps of Cinnamon Dolce syrup in the tall size which is definitely on the high side so a skinny choice is a great choice.
This is a kind of chai latte in a way, it’s an alternative to a caramel macchiato and a fine choice went you’re wanting something hot and sweet.
15. Pink Drink
Most of the refreshers are generally pretty good if you want a healthy choice, but the Pink drink is the best choice. It’s a StrawberryAçaí Refresher and mixed with coconut milk and freeze-dried strawberries to give you a fruity cream drink.
It’s 110 calories and has 19 g of sugar which isn’t too bad at all. A really refreshing drink with tastes of strawberries and springtime.
If you wanted an even lower calorie option then you could order the Strawberry Açaí Starbucks Refreshers Beverage which is the Pink drink without the coconut milk and is only 80 calories.
I just think the creaminess is too good to miss out on!
How To Order A Low-Calorie Starbucks Drink
1. Ask If There’s A Skinny Version
Pretty much anything that’s made with milk at Starbucks can be made as a “skinny” version. Because a Skinny Starbucks is simply a drink made with sugar-free syrup, non-fat milk, and no whipped cream on top.
Not all syrups are available as a skinny version so it’s best to ask or have a conversation with your barista to find the drink you’re looking for.
If you’re having one of the standard no-frills espresso drinks that you’d find in any coffee shop then going skinny couldn’t be easier.
2. Order a Tall size not a Grande or Venti
This is a really easy change to make because Starbucks coffee cup sizes are absolutely enormous, 20 fl of coffee is a lot, especially when it can be almost all milk. If you poured a glass of milk that big for yourself at home your family would definitely give you a strange look.
So stick to tall, 12oz is still bigger than most standard coffee sizes, when the regulators of coffee consider a cup of coffee to be between 4 and 8 oz!
3. Don’t Have a Frappuccino
It’s a bit generalized but the frappuccinos have ridiculous amounts of sugar in them, as I said before it’s because the coffee they use in them is mixed as part of sugar syrup, and then the Venti sizes sometimes have 6 pumps of flavored sugar syrup on top of that.
So all in you could be looking at 14 teaspoons of sugar in a single drink!
Best just to avoid them altogether if you’re looking for a healthy option, but again live your life so if you want a healthier version of a Frap then ask if they can do it as a light Frap, that’s the skinny version with no whipped cream, non-fat milk, and sugar-free syrup if possible.
4. Order Through The App If You Don’t Want To Ask
And if talking to your barista seems like a nightmare because it’s always really busy or they’re just particularly unfriendly then order through the app.
That way you can see exactly what you’re ordering and make changes to it. It doesn’t real-time update the nutrition information but you can at least go through and make all the healthy changes you want to make in your own time.
What does skinny mean at Starbucks?
I’ve said it a few times but if you’re skimming and have missed it I’ll say it again.
A skinny Starbucks is a drink that’s made with non-fat milk, no whipped cream, and sugar-free syrup where possible.
It’s an easy way to make any drink healthier and drop the calories. Not all drinks can be made skinny but any of the milk-based drinks can, and hopefully, you’ll have a nice friendly barista who can help you get the drink you want.
What is the healthiest drink to get at Starbucks?
The healthiest drink you can get at Starbucks is either a Mint Majesty hot tea or an Iced Passion Tango Tea. Both have zero calories, zero sugar, and zero caffeine.
Apart from that any of the drinks that feature in this list will be excellent and delicious choices.
Can I drink Starbucks while on a diet?
You can drink one of the Starbucks zero sugar teas while on a diet completely guilt-free.
As for the rest of the drinks, you can get it entirely depends what type of diet on and what foods you are and aren’t allowed to have. But if you’re looking to lose weight probably better to go for water instead, that’s always the best choice.
2 Surprisingly Unhealthy Drinks To Avoid At Starbucks
1. Plain Iced Coffee
This was the most shocking to me, if you order an iced coffee, not a vanilla iced coffee or anything like that just an iced coffee, it gets made with 3 pumps of sugar syrup…
How crazy is that? The cold brew will be served as a black coffee, as will the nitro brew but the iced coffee is made with 3 pumps of classic syrup as a tall. That’s 3 teaspoons of sugar into your standard size, insane.
And it would have really surprised me if I just ordered one that was sweetened because it sounds like should just be black coffee over ice.
But now you know!
2. Caramel Apple Spice
This is another one that because it’s apple juice and fruit juices tend to be sugary is actually quite intense. The tall has 310 calories and 50 g of sugar, and that’s in a tall! And while it looks like apple juice with whipped cream and caramel sauce on top it’s also got 3 pumps of that oh so delicious sugar syrup on the same size.
While I don’t intend to stop going to Starbucks after learning how much sugar is in almost all of their drinks, I am glad I know. Because I feel like it’s a surprising amount of sugar that goes into everyone.
Especially with the bigger sizes of drinks so I think I’ll be sticking to a tall drink from now on.
How about you? Do you have any special order you like to make that’s a healthier option than your standard drink?
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