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How To Eat Healthy at Starbucks

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We all have those days; you’re running around doing errands, picking up kids, making appointments and you forgot to grab a healthy snack from home before leaving.  And now you’re starving!

It’s hard to eat healthy at fast food places as most prepared foods come with the sorts of ingredients we usually avoid.  Things like sugar, gluten, and artificial ingredients.

However, it IS possible to eat healthy at fast food places, even at a place like Starbucks, where most of the menu is dedicated to drinks.

Check out what happened when I popped into the Starbucks right across from the gym for a quick midday snack.

Next time you’re out and about and needing a snack, keep these tips in mind!

1.  Start With Reading the Label
Most big fast food chains have to put the nutritional information for their menu online.  This is where I would start if you wanted more of a meal versus a snack.  I’ll always seek out a Chipotle because their menu selection is pretty good and they do not use GMOs.

If you’re picking up a snack like I did, just be sure to scan the ingredients label.  If the label lists sugar, syrups, gluten (aka wheat), or crazy words whose meaning is a mystery to you, just put the item back.  The shorter the list of ingredients, the better.  You want to see ingredients that are whole foods and easily recognizable.

2.  Keep it Simple
When scanning the menu, your best bet is to look for your protein, fat, and carbs separately.  By that I mean, if you see a packaged sandwich, you’re likely going to run into trouble with the bread and condiments, so you’re better off choosing a protein, fat, and carb source independently to avoid undesirable ingredients.   So instead of a prepackaged salad or sandwich , I’d rather get some hard boiled eggs, and a piece of fruit.

When all else fails, I’ll sometimes run into a grocery store and grab a pack of organic turkey lunch meat (Applegate Farms makes a great option with minimal ingredients and no sugar), and a piece of organic fruit.  If you’re needing some fat, you can either get an avocado, or even go down the nut butter aisle and grab a single serving squeeze pack of organic nut butter (almond, cashew, pecan, and walnut are my favorites).

3.  Avoid “Protein Bars”
The trouble with most protein bars is that they are chalked full of bad ingredients, usually sugar, preservatives, and artificial stuff.   Although there are a handful protein bars with legit ingredients (Perfect Bars, Papa Steve’s Bars, Oh My Bars, and Bulletproof Bars), they’re usually not at your mainstream fast food spots, so don’t count on a bar for snacking.

You’re In A Starbucks, What About Coffee Drinks?
A quick note about coffee drinks… you have to stay away from the mocha, frappuccino, or blended drinks as they are LOADED with sugar…. like one drink has nearly 3x the amount of sugar the American Heart Association says you should have in a single day!  According to the AHA, the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are as follows:

Men:  37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons
Women: 25 grams or 6 teaspoons

Take a peak at the nutritional information for the Starbucks seasonal favorite, Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino…  In the tantalizing description, they seemingly forget to mention sugar… all 73 grams of it…

You take all that sugar, pair it with the 15 grams of fat in that drink, and you’ve got yourself an iron-clad recipe for weight gain.  Nothing will make you put on weight faster than eating that much sugar and fat at the same time.

If you’re going to get a coffee from Starbucks, opt for an espresso. Personally, I get the Americano (an espresso with hot water added to it) because it’s like having a regular coffee, without the downsides of mass produced coffee beans.

In a nutshell, since Starbucks coffee beans aren’t organic they’re sprayed with lots of pesticides (coffee beans are among the most heavily sprayed crops).  During the brewing process for a regular coffee, the caffeine and flavor is extracted from the beans in a much slower process than in an espresso, so the negative things about non-organic coffee beans (pesticides and mold) end up in greater quantities in your regular coffee than in an espresso.

That’s it for this week’s Mondays With Mike!  See you next week for more life hacks!

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