Caffeine is one of the most addicting drugs in the world, so it’s no surprise that Starbucks has become a famed accessory and daily necessity in the lives of many.

As a college student, Starbucks is basically the elixir of life. However, while Starbucks may have given you the pick-me-up you needed to get through all-nighters and finals week, you might also have Starbucks to blame for the feared freshman 15. Coffee is inevitable in college, but extra weight gain doesn’t have to be.

While some of Starbucks’ signature drinks, such as the basic frappuccino, are undoubtedly some of the most amazing ways to ingest your daily caffeine, they might as well be dessert dressed as coffee. If you’d rather not drink your entire day’s worth of calories before 10 am, here are some healthier alternatives that’ll still satisfy your Starbucks craving.

Unsweetened Iced Tea


Photo by Christina Chu

Iced tea can trick you with the added sugars and syrups often used as sweeteners, but by asking for an unsweetened version you can still get that refreshing, fruity flavor without the overpowering sweetness and excess sugar.

Plus, by choosing iced tea you’re already winning. Think about it, ice takes up space and adds volume (more drank for you) without adding calories or fat. Think more for less.

Tip: Skip the syrup. Whether it’s in tea or your favorite coffee drink, flavored syrup quickly adds sugar and calories to your drink. If your sweet tooth just can’t do with out it, request sugar-free instead.

Nonfat, Unsweetened Cafe Misto 


Photo by Laura Bailey

What makes the misto a better choice than your latte? Because you’re using nonfat milk and avoiding sweetener, it contains less calories and is often cheaper. So what’s the difference? While a latte is considered an espresso drink, a misto is a coffee drink, consisting of ½ drip coffee and ½ nonfat milk.

But hey, sometimes you just need something flavorful. That doesn’t mean you have to settle for a sugar overload. Instead add cinnamon, cocoa powder, or nutmeg. Spicing up your drink with nut spices or unsweetened cacao powder add the flavor without the calories. And if all else fails, ask for vanilla or almond extract.

If you’re worried about your caffeine intake, consider this, you can get the same amount of caffeine in a tall with an extra shot of espresso, rather than a grande which adds more milk and therefore more calories. Cut the crap, keep the caffeine.

Mocha/Caramel Light Frappuccino


Photo by Catherine Maccaro

When ordering your favorite frappucino, it is important to remember that portion control matters, even for beverages. Start by ordering the smallest size. You can always add espresso, but we can all live without the extra sugar.

In addition to smaller sizes, substitutes are your best friend when it comes to this milkshake/coffee hybrid. Starbucks’ default milk is 2%, so unless you specify you preferences, you’re wasting your valuable calorie allowance. Instead, ask for skim milk, soy milk, or coconut milk creamer (adds nutrients, electrolytes and flavor).

Lastly, skip the whip. While it may be pretty, whipped cream is more accessory than necessary. It doesn’t add much to the taste but does add extra calories.

Starbucks gets it, sometimes you just have to satisfy your sweet tooth, but still want to avoid a dad bod. So they’ve made it easy on us by creating the “light” frappuccino. While initially our favorite coffee company only offered the low-cal, low-fat option in Mocha and Caramel, they have recently expanded adding fan favorites like vanilla, cinnamon dolce

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