If you're into that caffeine life, coffee and tea are both excellent ways to get yourself #UpNOut in the morning. We love these beverages in all shapes and sizes, and that includes the Tall, Grande, and Venti drinks you can find at Starbucks.
The popular chain knows what's up when it comes to brewing coffee and making amazing seasonal flavors (hello, pumpkin spice!). Unfortunately, it's pretty easy to accidentally go overboard with all the extras. If you happen to be trying to cut back on calories, but still want to enjoy your daily brew, there a few hacks you should have up your sleeve whenever you order—little swaps can add up to big changes over time. SELF spoke with Lindsey Pine, M.S., R.D., owner of Tasty Balance Nutrition, for the full scoop on how to reduce the calories in your next caramel macchiato or iced tea. Bonus: She's a former Starbucks barista, so she knows all the tricks.
1. Wean yourself off of sweeteners.
Grande, half-caff, mocha, caramel pumps—all these extras are part of the fun of drinking coffee from Starbucks. Unfortunately, they're also some of the culprits behind the extra calories. Especially the pumps of sweetener. Pine suggests gradually nixing sweeteners from your order, rather than ditching them cold turkey. Each sweetened Starbucks beverage comes with a specific number of syrup pumps. If you ask for one less pump each time you order, she says, "You’ll eventually find that the regular number of pumps is way too sweet for you." This strategy may even help you get rid of sweeteners altogether.
2. Or choose sugar-free flavored syrups.
If you want to cut down on calories, but not sweeteners, Pine suggests opting for sugar-free syrups or switching your beverage to something that is naturally sweeter. If coffee is too bitter for you to handle without two pumps of sugar, you may want to start drinking tea-based beverages. She likes a green tea misto, which is simply green tea with steamed milk. "It's not on the menu, but the baristas will know what it is," she says, and that milder flavor makes it easy to drink all on its own.
3. Stick with smaller sizes.
According to Pine, Starbucks serves a size smaller than a Tall called a Short. At just eight ounces, she says it's actually the standard size used at most other coffee shops. Opting for this size instead of your usual Tall or Grande will allow you to enjoy the same beverage with markedly fewer calories. A Short latte has just 100 calories compared to the 150 calories in a tall latte.
4. When it comes to dairy, opt for low-fat or skim milk.
If you like milk in your coffee, switching from whole milk to low-fat or skim will reduce the amount of calories in your morning beverage, says Pine. If you can't imagine life without a splash of whole milk in the morning, there is another option. "Order a drink with whole milk, just in a smaller size such as a short or a tall," she says.
5. And watch for added sugars in the dairy-free milk substitutes.
Pine says the soy and coconut milk options are great if you're lactose-intolerant or have a dairy allergy and still want that dairy-like flavor in your coffee. However, she points out that the varieties may contain added sugars, which is something you may want to avoid if you’re trying to cut back on sugar and extra calories.
6. Consider ditching flavored drinks for black coffee.
Coffee without any milk or sugar is actually very low in calories. Pine loves a plain cup of joe for it's nuanced flavor, but straight up black coffee isn't for everyone. A great way to ease yourself into drinking it without any extras? Try cold brew iced coffee. Cold brew is naturally sweeter than hot coffee because of the longer extraction process involved in making it. A Grande size of Starbucks cold brew is just five calories.
7. Enjoy your fave Frappuccino, just not daily.
If you absolutely adore Frappuccinos, caramel macchiatos, and the other high-calorie drinks, Pine says you don’t have to stop drinking them. Just don’t drink them quite as often. And again, you can always opt for the Short size, she says.
Now go get that coffee!