For those that love to enjoy a hot coffee or iced beverage to kickstart the day, navigating the Starbucks menu can feel like a secret code. Especially when living with diabetes.
Receiving a diabetes diagnosis does not mean forfeiting your favorite coffee shop treats! From frothy lattes to refreshing iced teas, there are an array of options.
The secret to choosing the best drinks for diabetes?
Understanding how to tailor these choices to fit your dietary needs and preferences.
Whether you are visiting Starbucks or your favorite local coffee shop, use this blog as a guide to help make informed decisions while keeping blood sugars balanced!
Can you drink Starbucks if you have diabetes?
Yes! You can drink Starbucks if you have diabetes, but it is essential to make informed choices and manage your carbohydrate intake carefully.
Let’s chat about a few basics to help you gain clarity around why you may see a blood sugar spike from Starbucks drinks in the first place.
Many of the syrups, milks and toppings at a coffee shop have a high carbohydrate content. When consumed, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and insulin then helps the glucose get into your cells to provide energy.
Think of insulin as a key that opens the door of a cell. When working properly, insulin or the “key” can open the door and allow the glucose to enter from the bloodstream into the cell. This provides our body with the energy it needs to perform daily activities.
Problems with insulin could be the body not making enough like in type 1 diabetes or being insulin resistant as seen in prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Thus, glucose is stuck in the bloodstream and unable to enter the cell. This causes blood sugar levels to rise.
What Starbucks drinks don’t spike blood sugar?
When you are consuming a drink that contains carbohydrates, being mindful of the total carb content can prevent a blood sugar spike. You can also take a look at the Starbucks food menu to find a protein-rich option like the Egg Bites to pair with your drink.
Certain Starbucks drinks are less likely to cause significant spikes in blood sugar levels due to their lower carbohydrate content and minimal added sugars.
Today, I am sharing those drinks with you along with tips that you can easily follow to swap ingredients for blood sugar friendly options.
Tips for Ordering at Starbucks
- Read the menu! Starbucks does post the menu online or it is accessible via the mobile app making it easier to read the detail of the menu before arriving at the store. Having an idea of what you want will make the ordering process smoother but also less stressful.
- Locate the Starbucks nutrition information! Unfortunately, the nutrition calculator on the app does not update when customizations are made. However, with a little brain power, you can calculate the carbohydrate content of a drink by using this online resource.
- Customize drinks! Be sure to communicate your dietary restrictions and preferences to the barista so they make the appropriate drink(s).
- Ask questions! Part of living with diabetes is advocating for yourself and ensuring you keep your health at top of mind. Don’t hesitate to ask the barista about ingredients, options or even seasonal recommendations.
- Double-check your order! Before leaving the counter or drive-thru, confirm that your order is correct. Especially if you have made customizations.
What to order at Starbucks with Diabetes?
Whether you are managing prediabetes, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, making informed choices is essential to manage your blood sugar levels effectively.
Below you will find an ordering guide and diabetes-friendly Starbucks drinks to consider when ordering:
Blood Sugar-Friendly Starbucks Ordering Guide
Classic black coffee, such as hot or cold brewed coffee, Americano or espresso, contain roughly 2 grams of carbohydrates making any of these an excellent choice.
Unsweetened teas, such as black, green and herbal teas, are naturally low in sugar. You can enjoy these hot or iced and even customize with a splash of unsweetened almond milk for added flavor.
If you prefer a sweet tea, opt for sugar-free syrup such as sugar free vanilla syrup in black tea or sugar free cinnamon dolce in green tea.
Speaking of sugar free options at Starbucks, did you know Starbucks has sugar free syrup? There is a selection of sugar-free syrups like vanilla, caramel and cinnamon dolce. These sugar-free syrups can curb your sweet tooth while keeping blood sugars balanced.
You can also opt for reduced pumps of syrup per drink if looking to indulge in other syrup flavors that do not have a sugar-free option.
For example, the popular pumpkin spice latte has 4 pumps of pumpkin sauce in a Grande. The pumpkin sauce adds ~6g carbohydrates per pump or 24g carbohydrates per drink from the syrup alone.
You can easily request this seasonal favorite with 1 pump of pumpkin sauce to reduce the amount of sugar. To further reduce the carbohydrate content, swap the milk for almond milk, opt for no whip but keep the pumpkin spice topping for flavor.
Another great option is ordering a brewed coffee with 1 pump of pumpkin, a splash of milk and pumpkin spice topping.
Milk and Milk Alternatives
Starbucks offers a range of dairy and non-dairy milk alternatives such as oat, almond, coconut or soy milk.
Typically, Starbucks whole, 2% and skim milk contain around 10g carbohydrates per 8 ounces. The soy milk contains ~12g, coconut milk contains ~7g and oat milk contains ~20g carbohydrates per 8 ounces.
If seeking a frothy drink, Starbucks almond milk provides the least amount of carbs at 4g carbohydrates per 8 ounces.
Last but definitely not least, the toppings! Toppings at Starbucks can add flavor and texture to your drink, but they can also introduce additional sugar and carbohydrates. For a blood sugar-friendly order, be selective with your toppings.
Consider skipping whipped cream and sugary drizzles and opt for cinnamon, nutmeg or cocoa powder. These spice-based toppings can elevate your drink and enhance its taste profile.
For a seasonal flavor, consider topping with pumpkin spice topping, which is a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves!
Lowest Carb Starbucks Drinks
You can definitely head over to the Starbucks website to find drink inspiration. However, I also created a list of some of the blood sugar friendly drinks that I recommend as a diabetes dietitian and educator.
- Iced coffee with 1 pump sugar-free syrup such as sugar free vanilla or caramel.
- Cold brew with cinnamon almond milk foam.
- Iced Americano with a splash of almond milk or heavy cream.
- Flat white with almond milk.
- Iced green tea latte with almond milk.
- Unsweetened caffe Misto with nonfat milk or almond milk.
- Iced passion tango tea with a splash of heavy cream.
Starbucks menu items and nutritional information may change, verify the most up-to-date information with specific Starbucks locations.
Starbucks for Diabetes Takeaways
You do not need to give up visiting your local Starbucks or coffee shop if diagnosed with diabetes.
Instead, use this guide to customize your drink(s) and stay informed on the nutritional information at any given location.