Many people love Starbucks, and as the keto diet gets more exposure, there will be more “keto-friendly” options becoming available at different restaurants, fast food stores, and more.
Starbucks for example, is one of the new contenders in the lineup to help those who are on a keto diet. They have numerous beverages you can buy, yet still keep up with your ketogenic diet. You don’t have to give up your daily dose of caffeine just because you are on a keto kick.
In this guide, we’ll tell you what not to get, and what you can buy, as well as how tips on how to order those drinks so they can be keto friendly for your ketosis needs.
A Lesson on Beverages Served at Starbucks
When you’re wanting to order your beverages at Starbucks, there are a few things that you must consider.
- Most Starbucks Beverages are Loaded With Sugar To Start With
The syrup that Starbucks puts into your drinks is mostly sugar, and can add anywhere from five to thirty carbohydrates (that’s NET carbs, not just carbs) to every single drink you buy, no matter whether it’s hot or cold. Starbucks calls this syrup “Classic” syrup, so you can order it without “Classic” or without syrup when you order (if you want, you can always choose a sweetener that’s keto-friendly later).
- Almost ALL Flavorings are Loaded with Sugar Too
The different flavor syrups that Starbucks uses to make lattes, macchiatos, mocha drinks, and more contain high amounts of sugar that go into your drink, and they combine these with Espresso and milk. You have to keep this in mind, because every single “pump” of syrup can give you anywhere from five to seven grams of net carbs. This is actually a very high amount when you’re on your keto diet. The larger the drink, the more pumps of the flavor syrup you need to get, which is very bad when you’re doing carb depletion.
- Whip Creams are Just Bad
No, really. Whipped cream, no matter what kind (Starbucks is no exception to this) is very bad for you. It’s loaded with sugars and starches, vanilla syrup, and has a lot of additives and preservatives. Whipped cream on any level is a terrible ingredient and has never been keto friendly.
- If You Opt for Sugar Free Syrup
While getting a syrup with no sugar may seem like the way to go, it can actually cause problems with the bacteria in your stomach that helps you to digest things. Most of these sugar-free alternatives contain sucralose, which is a sweetener that is artificially made. When sucralose is heated up, it creates a chemical known as chloropropanol, that has been linked to numerous studies as a carcinogen, and can cause cancer if consumed too much or regularly.
If you don’t mind the syrups however, then you want one or two pumps from the syrup bottle, which only equals about a gram of net carbohydrates. Starbucks does offer various flavors of the syrups, including cinnamon dolce, hazelnut, vanilla, caramel, mocha, and during the holiday season – peppermint. These syrups also contain a lot of artificial flavors to make up for the lack of the natural ingredients for flavors, which are usually the sugars. Just because something says natural flavors doesn’t mean it’s made with natural ingredients.
- Most Starbucks Beverages are Loaded With Sugar To Start With
- What Do I Do To Avoid Artificial Sweeteners But Still Flavor My Drinks?
Fortunately, you can completely eliminate all of the sugars and artificial flavorings by using natural ones that Starbucks offers when you’re on a keto diet. They have cinnamon, cocoa powder, nutmeg, and sometimes have pumpkin spice. You can also find healthy natural oils such as those made by LorAnn oils, as well as other manufacturers (these are usually very cheap little vials of oil and it only takes about one drop) to flavor your drinks. You can always just bring one of those with you, or take advantage of the spices Starbucks has in their shakers.
On top of this, if you want, a lot of Starbucks have packets of Stevia which are a very keto friendly alternative to sweeteners. If you have packets of monk fruit sweeteners, you can also use one of those instead.
- Pre-made Drinks Starbucks Have Also Are High in Sugars
Certain refreshments that your Starbucks offers come in pre-made powder mixes, so there is no getting any of them. Don’t get their green tea lattes, chai tea lattes, lemonades, or some of their “refreshers”, as they’re always loaded up with sugars. These drinks are a no-go when it comes to buying your Starbucks. Even one drink of these would usually send your net carbs and sugars through the roof.
- Don’t Add Milk, and Definitely Avoid the Half and Half or Creamers
Milk that’s normally added when you order an espresso beverage from Starbucks is usually 2%. While they also offer nonfat milk (or skim milk), their “Skinny” marketed beverages aren’t any better. Most of these drinks actually use starches to mask the lack of “milk” in their drinks, and can add anywhere from ten to twenty-five grams of net carbs, which is also bad for your ketosis transformation.
The next alternative they have is probably half and half crème (if you go to Starbucks, they call it “breve” – pronounced bre-vay) but even it can kill your net carb intake. It has about 1g per tablespoon of net carbs. They usually put more than that in one large drink, so that isn’t very keto friendly. You may be able to just tell them 1 tbsp if you are worried about that.
The best alternative you can get is heavy cream. Although it has a lot of calories (so you may need to monitor that) it is literally just pure milk fat and has no carbohydrates added to it. It also takes very little to make your drink taste rich and creamy. If you want it to be a little less than that, or to make your own “half and half” for your drink, simply tell the person making your coffee that you would like to mix heavy cream with water half and half.
The plus? At Starbucks, when you get anything under 4oz as far as milk or creamer additions go, they’re generally free. You can even get the cream heated up for more flavor.
- Starbucks Baristas are Trained for Customer Service
At Starbucks, they love making custom drinks. As long as you’re not a jerk to them, you won’t get an attitude back, as this is how they’re trained. Ordering customized drinks can not only make you feel great, but it helps the baristas behind the counter to better know you as a customer, and should you come a few times, and only order the same custom drink in general, then they’ll get to know who you are and be able to make your drink faster every time.
At Starbucks, they have check boxes on the sides of the cups so that they can list the preferences you chose. After a while, they might even be able to make your drinks and you not even have to ask. That’s what’s important about being a Starbucks customer. What’s even better is that if they ask any questions about the order, you can happily explain your ketosis transformation and put in a good word for your diet that’s working for you!
Here Are Some Keto Beverages You Can Get
In this list, we’ll explain some “keto Starbucks recipes” you can follow when you want to splurge on Starbucks guilt-free. This will include a variety of drinks, but they are also all very keto friendly.
- Coffee Plain
Of course, Starbucks got their start by just being a coffee shop, so why wouldn’t they just serve coffee?
Coffee, especially black is one of the many things that are high on the list of morning brews for keto dieters, because there are no carbs or sugars to worry about. Not only that, but coffee in itself is actually very low in calories, and you get about 20mg of caffeine for every oz. The average coffee drinker drinks about 16 oz per cup, so you’re getting a quick dose of 200mg of caffeine (which is safe)
- Caffe Misto with Heavy Cream
A Misto is a one to one mix of coffee and milk. In French, it’s called a “café au lait”. This drink is creamy and delicious, and for 16 oz has about the same 200mg of caffeine, but it’s a little less bitter since it takes some of the acidity away from the espresso.
Instead of getting milk, ask the barista for heavy cream or the mixture of half steaming H20 and half heavy cream in order to make it creamy, but smooth.
- Freshly Brewed Hot Tea
Starbucks partnered up with Teavana, so they offer a wide variety of teas. All you have to do is tell the barista you want tea, and they’ll give you a hot tea. Starbucks makes their teas very strong, and they usually make their teas with half tea and half water. If you want a stronger tea, you can simply tell them no water, and they’ll steep your tea bags without adding water to the tea mixture, which will give you even more tea and more caffeine per cup. Starbucks has so many teas but here are some popular teas:
– Emperor’s Cloud & Mist Green Tea
– Jade Citrus Mint Green Tea
– Mint Majesty Herbal Tea
– Passion Tango Herbal Tea
– Peach Tranquility Herbal Tea
– Teavana Earl Grey Tea
– Youth berry White Tea
– The Comfort Wellness Tea
Just be sure to tell them you want just tea and no sugar (some baristas put sugar or sweetener in their teas without asking).
- Tea Lattes
Other than just their regular Chai tea, or the newer brand of London Fog, you can use tea bags with heavy cream to make your own tea latte. All of Starbucks tea lattes use a ton of sugar, which as we said earlier isn’t what the goal is when it comes to a keto diet.
If you want a little spice, add a little bit of cinnamon or nutmeg to your tea latte. This is a good copycat of a chai latte. You can use two or more tea bags for a stronger “chai”.
If you want something sweet, throw in a packet of Stevia. You can even get organic chai tea which is just straight tea and make your own chai latte.
In order to mimic the London Fog, use earl gray tea instead. If you have any vanilla extract on hand, toss a couple drops of that in it, and you have essentially the same drink.
Now you don’t have to stop there. Why not be original? You can do this with pretty much any of the teas they have. Try it with the Peach Tranquility tea for an interesting peaches and cream flavor.
- The Famous Espresso Shot
Espresso is extremely low in net carbs at only about 1g per shot. It also has hardly any calories, and is very healthy in moderation when you go to Starbucks. Usually, espresso has an average of anywhere from 50 to 75mg of caffeine. But this is just one ounce, as compared to one whole big cup of coffee.
Unfortunately, espresso does take a little bit of adjustment with the taste buds. If you think coffee was bitter, espresso is about 5 times the bitterness, but getting a single shot or a double shot is a very fast way to get your daily caffeine intake, and still keep your net carbs down very low.
In order to aid the taste for you, you can also add heavy cream and spices to it, and maybe some Stevia or monk fruit (if you have a packet of that). If espresso is just a little too strong for you however, you don’t have to worry about sacrificing your morning caffeine intake while cutting down some of the bitter. Your Starbucks barista can make you a special drink containing espresso instead of just coffee.
- Café Americano Anyone?
When they say Americano, it just means that they are wanting espresso and water. This is a little bit stronger than coffee, and you can usually get about one shot for both the short and tall versions of the drink at Starbucks. You can ask for them black, and if you want them sweetened, you can simply use Stevia or monks fruit packets. A grande or venti (the two largest sizes) have two shots of espresso in them. You can order it with two shots of espresso in a grande as well though if you want a little bit more of a “punch to the face” to wake you up in the morning. What’s awesome about this style of espresso beverage? It only has 1-2g of net carbs and is really good at delivering more caffeine to you.
- Don’t Forget the Lattes
Just because you’re on keto doesn’t mean that you can’t get a latte. You can make an awesome latte if you use half water and half heavy cream instead of milk to get the cut of carbs you need, and you can use sugar free vanilla syrup (keep in mind the syrup will add about 1g of net carbs). If you get a large order, simply just ask for one pump instead of the 3 or four they normally put in it. And you can add your own Stevia to reduce net carbs too.
- The Keto Mocha
When you order a mocha regular, it has espresso, warm milk, and that really yummy chocolate syrup everyone loves… Oh, and don’t forget the Cool Whip they add to it. Unfortunately, one pump of that good mocha stuff has a LOT of net carbs, and is about half your intake. But what you can do is have them use sugar free mocha (they call it “skinny”, but we know it’s not really). It has about 1g of net carbs per pump. Only let them put one pump in even if you have a super large venti cup for less carbs. And you can always use the heavy cream and water mixture to take away the milk. If you want to step up the flavor a notch, Get the espresso and the creamy water mixture, and then add a couple shakes of cocoa powder and vanilla powder at the bar, with about 1 shake of nutmeg. Sweeten with Stevia and you get a flavor that’s pretty similar without all the unhealthy sugars.
- Make it a Short One
One key thing to point out is that you don’t necessarily have to get a big drink in order to achieve your caffeine kick of the day. If you want to cut out a lot of this, as well as your caffeine intake, most Starbucks don’t actually advertise it, but you can get a “short” cup, which is actually a small 8oz paper cup of your favorite brew.
- Starbucks’ Iced Coffee
If you don’t want to have a hot beverage, you can simply get iced coffee. You can order this in caffeinated and decaffeinated, and it has absolutely no carbs. Just tell them to not to put any Classic syrup in it, and sweeten it on your own. This applies also for the iced tea.
- Starbucks Can Brew Coffee Cold
Most people don’t realize that Starbucks also has a cold brew version of their coffee which is actually made and slow steeped in cold water for almost a day (usually they make it the day before, and let it slow steep). It is a great choice. They also have a “Nitro” brew which is made faster and cold that has no sugars and carbs. Just avoid any options like syrups, milk foams, and more (use the heavy cream… that’s where it’s at!) will be hard on your carb intake, so it can break your chain of ketosis transformation.
- If You Don’t Want Hot Tea
As mentioned earlier, the same rules apply when it comes to sweetening of your iced tea. Don’t get the flavors, additions, or the extras when it comes to ordering your tea. If you don’t want it hot, you can add Stevia or monk’s fruit packets, dissolve them into your drink, and then simply have them add ice.
One awesome life hack that gives you twice the amount is to order a venti hot tea, doctor it up yourself (make your own latte that was mentioned above, or sweetener), then ask for a venti cup of ice (it’s free!) and you can have two iced teas for the price of one!
- The Best of the Best: H2O
Of course, water is one of the best beverages when it comes to our keto diet. We need it to thrive, and continuously rehydrate. Starbucks offers ice water free of charge, and they run it through their own filters, so you’re not getting all the additives (or possible bacteria) that are generally hidden in bottles of water. Not only that, you’ll usually save about 3 dollars because your drink is completely free.
So What’s Our Take?
We can generally see that there are ways to order a drink at Starbucks and turn it into a delicious keto beverage. How you do it is entirely up to you, but the main key point is that is ALL up to you. The keywords you say like “skinny” when you order, as well as the fact that if you want to achieve the same flavors they can create with premade syrups is something you’ll usually have to make on your own, but only use the natural sugarless (and starch free… remember, you want net carbs to be as close to zero as possible) ingredients, and you should be fine. And always remember that for every drink, you can get an iced beverage as well by ordering the ice on the side in another cup free.