Just because you’re following the Keto diet, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up every little treat and indulgence that you love. Starbucks is a perfect example of this. It can be difficult to just “wing it” and walk in to a Starbucks hoping you made Keto-friendly choices so the preparation ahead of time is important. The following article will help you to decipher the Starbucks menu and avoid any hidden pitfalls so you can have your Starbucks while sticking to your Keto goals!
General Tips for Ordering at Starbucks
Before we get into the specifics as to which drinks are the best option at Starbucks it’s important to know some general rules and tips for approaching this coffee shop’s menu. Even if you can’t remember the specific name of a Keto-friendly drink, remembering the following tips can go a long way to making sure you make an informed, Keto-friendly decision when you’re at the counter.
Watch out for hidden sugars
Sugar is in everything! If you’ve been on Keto for a while now you’ve probably stumbled across this hidden truth. Everywhere you look food is spiced up with sugar or sugary alternatives. Starbucks is no different. In fact, the majority of the drinks at Starbucks contain sugar. This means that you’re going to need to let your barista know that you don’t want sugar in your drink ahead of time.
The classic syrup at Starbucks can be found in every drink on their menu except for brewed coffee. The classic syrup at Starbucks has a a whopping 5g of carbs in a single pump! So it’s important to ask if your drink contains classic syrup, or ask if you can get it without.
Be very specific when you order and ask plenty of questions
Speaking of asking, one of the biggest mistakes you could make when ordering at Starbucks is to keep your mouth shut and just let your barista create your coffee without any input from you. I know that it can feel intimidating to speak up and ask questions or request changes to a standard recipe but it is vital to your success on Keto.
You need to have the confidence to stand up for yourself and your food choices and you deserve to know what’s in the food and drinks you’re putting into your body. So, muster up that confidence and ask questions. Your body and your Keto will thank you for it and chances are, your barista will answer your questions without batting an eye.
Best milk choices at Starbucks
Never get steamed milk at Starbucks. Steamed milk contains a whopping 19g of carbohydrates when it’s ordered in the Grande size! The good news is, Starbucks tends to be very accommodating with its milk options.
If you’re looking for a Keto-friendly milk substitute in your beverage ask if they have unsweetened almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk. It’s important to make sure that these are unsweetened to avoid any hidden sugars. You could also ask for the milk portion of your drink to come from a combination of half heavy cream and half water. This will give you the richness of the milk with fewer calories. Heavy cream has 3.3g of carbs in a half cup (with the other ½ cup water) compared to the 13g of carbs that would be found in a cup of 2% milk.
Be wary of “skinny” drinks
Just because a drink is labelled as “skinny” on the Starbucks menu that does not mean that’s it’s a Keto-friendly option. In fact, the opposite is often true. Traditionally in order to make a drink “Skinny” the fat content is lowered and sugar or artificial sweeteners are added in order to make up for the flavor lost from the fat. These drinks are designed to be low in calories, not low in carbohydrates.
Anyone on Keto knows that more sugar and less fat is the opposite of what you’re looking for in your food. If you want to order a drink from the list of skinny options at Starbucks make sure that it doesn’t contain any steamed milk or flavored syrups. These two in combination can raise the average carbs of your “skinny” drink to 19g or more!
Even the “sugar-free” syrup contains carbs
Just as “skinny” doesn’t necessarily mean Keto-friendly, “Sugar-free” doesn’t necessarily mean no carbs. The sugar-free syrups at Starbucks still contain carbs although they contain fewer carbs per pump than their sugar filled counterparts. They’re also often sweetened with artificial sweeteners such as sucralose. Sucralose is allowed on Keto; however, a lot of people tend to avoid it whenever they can since clean Keto asks that you refrain from eating processed and artificial foods.
The average sugar-free syrup at Starbucks contains 1g of carbs. While this isn’t a large amount, if you leave it up to your barista, they’ll probably add upwards of 4 pumps to your Grande sized coffee. If your drink contains the ½ and ½ mixture of heavy cream and water then you’re looking at 4g of carbs from your syrup and 3.3g of carbs from your milk which adds up to 7.3g of carbs for your drink. Yikes! This is why it’s important to specify the number of pumps you want so you can limit your carbs.
Steer clear of extras such as whipped cream and sweet drizzles
This may go without saying, but you should avoid any extras such as sprinkles, whipped cream and tempting sweet drizzles. That caramel swirl on top of your drink may look pretty but it can pack a ton of carbs. Whipped cream may be full of healthy fats; however, it’s also loaded with sugar and the general rule on Keto is to follow your taste buds. If it tastes sugary sweet then it probably has too many calories to be Keto-friendly.
Best Keto-friendly Starbucks drinks
Now that you’re an expert on what to ask for at the counter at Starbucks it’s time to let you in on the secret to the most Keto-friendly drinks that you can order.
- White Drink: Although you won’t find this listed on the menu, it’s a delicious and Keto-friendly option. To get it simply ask for some unsweetened peach citrus white tea to be mixed with some heavy cream and a shot or two of sugar free-vanilla syrup. You can either get it blended with ice, or leave it unblended depending on your preference.
- Chai Tea Latte: Ask your barista to start with a chai tea bag (not the syrup!) and mix in 2oz of heavy whipping cream. To this have them add 2 pumps of sugar-free cinnamon dolce syrup. You can also add a shot of expresso or an extra tea bag for added flavor. This latte has only 3.7g of net carbs!
- London Fog: Start with one or two bags of earl grey tea and add ¾ cup of hot water alongside ¼ of heavy cream. You then add 2 pumps of sugar-free vanilla syrup and voila, an easy to remember Keto-friendly Starbucks tea with only 5.3g of net carbs.
- Pink Drink: This classic Starbucks drink can be made Keto-friendly with a few simple swaps. To begin, as for a Grande sized Passion Tango, iced and ask them to make it without any of the classic syrup. Then add 2 shots of heavy whipping cream and 2 pumps of sugar-free vanilla syrup. At 4.5g of net carbs, this Keto-friendly pink drink proves that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor while on Keto.
- Keto Iced Coffee: This simple drink contains only 3g of net carbs. You can either start with a cold brew coffee or a Grande iced coffee with no classic syrup. Then you simply add 2 pumps of your favorite sugar-free syrup. Easy and delicious.
- Keto-friendly Mocha: If you’re looking to have the delicious, chocolatey taste of a mocha while sticking to your carb budget, you can do it for 5.3g of net carbs. You begin this drink with an Americano that’s ¾ water and ¼ heavy cream. You then add 2 pumps of the sugar-free mocha sauce. Remember to ask for no whipped cream and no vanilla syrup in this drink otherwise it’ll push your calorie count sky high.
- Cinnamon Dolce Latte: Start with an Americano and ask it to be ¾ water instead of full. In that last ¼ of your cup, add 1/4cup of heavy cream that’s been steamed (this is the exception to the steamed milk rule). Finish the drink off with 2 pumps of sugar-free cinnamon dolce syrup. Like the Mocha, this drink has 5.3g of net carbs.
- Brewed Coffee: If you’re not looking for anything sweet or fancy then you can’t go wrong with a brewed coffee from Starbucks. Double check that there’s no added sugars and you know that you’re good to go.
The majority of your favorite foods and drinks can be enjoyed on Keto as long as you make some simple substitutes and ask curious questions. When it comes to the Starbucks menu, although it can seem cryptic at times, you’ll be able to find a delicious Keto-friendly drink as long as you are specific about what you want. Have fun discovering your new Keto-friendly favorite at your local Starbucks!