5 Seasonal Starbucks Drinks Made Skinny

Easy ways to slim down your favorite winter brew.

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‘Tis the season to bundle up and stay warm with a feel-good beverage. As coffee shops across the country feature their seasonal specialties, your Instagram feed has likely become inundated with images of mouth-watering drinks. From flavored cocoa to spiced ciders to the ever-popular holiday-inspired lattes, it’s no wonder most of us are craving these festive brews.

However, it’s no secret that these sweet treats are calorie bombs served in picture-perfect (and sometimes controversial) cups. Well, you can perk up! Anne Brock, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian who specializes in weight loss and diabetic education at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, Idaho has simple, flavorful swaps that let you indulge in the most popular java drinks—with fewer calories, less fat and zero guilt!

Medically reviewed in November 2018.

Skinny Peppermint Mocha

2 / 6 Skinny Peppermint Mocha

A traditional 16-ounce Starbucks Peppermint Mocha—a blend of espresso, 2 percent milk, peppermint syrup and mocha sauce—finished with whipped cream, contains 440 calories.

But there's no need to sip that many calories. “An easy way to lower the calories in these coffee drinks is to get rid of the whipped cream, which reduces the drink by roughly 100 calories,” says Brock. “This beverage usually comes with chocolate flakes on top, but a lot of times you can ask the barista to use cocoa powder, cinnamon or nutmeg instead, and still get that sweet taste you’re going after.”

Swapping your milk choice can also shave off some unwanted calories. Unless you specify the type of milk you'd like in your espresso, your barista will always reach for the 2 percent. Instead opt for nonfat milk or a plant-based alternative, like almond, and save 70 calories in your next 16-ounce beverage.

Don’t forget, Starbucks also offers a “skinny” version of this popular drink, made with steamed nonfat milk, sugar-free mocha sauce and sugar-free peppermint syrup. Slashing the sugary syrup alone cuts tons of calories from this drink. A 16-ounce cup contains just 160 calories.

Photo credit: Starbucks Corporation

Guiltless Gingerbread Latte

3 / 6 Guiltless Gingerbread Latte

This cookie in a cup is a seasonal classic, but the typical 16-ounce store-bought version, made with 2 percent milk and topped with whipped cream, packs 330 calories.

Dieters—you're in luck! “This is when downsizing really works,” explains Brock. Ordering a "short" beverage, served in an 8-ounce cup, instantly shaves off 150 calories, without any other modifications.

Don’t stop there. Ask the barista to skip the whipped cream, a swap that saves another 50 calories, and opt for almond milk. You've instantly created a drink with just 90 calories, without forgoing flavor.

Lighter Eggnog Latte

4 / 6 Lighter Eggnog Latte

Sixteen ounces of this frothy concoction—a combination of espresso, steamed milk and eggnog—contains a whopping 470 calories. Brock admits that slimming down this seasonal delight is especially tricky.

But your trip to the coffee shop doesn't have to blow your health eating habits. “In this case, it’s only about downsizing,” she says. You can cut the calories almost in half by simply ordering an 8-ounce version with almond milk.

Let's not forget about the sugar content. Even the 8-ounce serving with almond milk contains 24 grams of the sweet stuff. Sugar can stimulate appetite, some research suggests.

Some researchers believe sugar can trigger a release of insulin, which blocks the body's satiety hormone, leptin. This can trick your body into thinking you're hungry. “Sugar can give you that short-term satisfaction or short-term fullness, but you will be hungry again fairly quickly afterwards,” adds Brock.

Chat with your barista about what actually goes into your drink, and cut back on the sugar and calories where you can. Try skipping the latte and ordering a hot coffee with a pump of sugar-free vanilla syrup and a splash of eggnog.

If sugar-free syrup isn't an option, and you can't stomach an espresso without some sweetness, Brock advises ordering items like this as an occasional treat.

Calorie-Friendly Caramel Brulée Latte

5 / 6 Calorie-Friendly Caramel Brulée Latte

A 16-ounce cup of this latte, made the Starbucks way—with 2 percent milk and whip, of course—contains 450 calories. Luckily, there are ways to lighten the load.

“There are a number of fun ways to play around with this drink,” says Brock.

Order a 12-ounce drink with nonfat milk for a sipable with 310 calories. Cut the whipped topping, and you’ll whittle the calories down to 250. But if it's the whipped cream you're craving, order an 8-ounce cup and enjoy a latte with 220 calories—about half of the standard version.

This specialty is made with a signature caramel brulee sauce and topped with a caramel crunch. Skinny up this drink even more by leaving off the crunchy topping, or simply asking for half the syrup—a tweak that shaves off 66 calories per pump.

Better-for-You Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

6 / 6 Better-for-You Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

The Toasted White Chocolate Mocha is almost too good to pass up. It's made with caramelized white chocolate and topped with whipped cream, holiday sugar and edible pearls. Unfortunately, this brewed beverage, made with 2 percent milk and poured into a 16-ounce cup, comes with a 420 calorie price tag.

But before you give in or give it up, a few simple swaps can slash some of the unwanted calories in this drink. If you've already decided on the 16-ounce size, substitute almond milk for the traditional 2 percent milk. This upgrade will quickly reduce the treat by 80 calories. Skipping the whip knocks the total down to 260 calories.

Still, these drinks may not be the best way to satisfy your daily caffeine addiction. “You may want to consider some of these beverages as a dessert, since the calories can be as much as a meal,” states Brock.

If you regularly crave these festive blends, Brock suggests ordering a freshly brewed coffee—any size—topped with spices, like nutmeg or cinnamon, and a few pumps of sugar-free syrup to satisfy your seasonal cravings.

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