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Drink This, Not That

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Mizzou chapter.

Everyone has his or her staple drink – the drink that at the end of the day, or the beginning, never lets you down. It satisfies you, energizes you, completes you. Okay, maybe not that far, but you wouldn’t know what to do without it. Whether a strawberry banana smoothie or a skinny caramel latte, there are usually empty calories lurking. Still many people think, a drink is just liquid, so how bad could it be? We hate to break it to you, but it can be pretty bad. And when you’re buying drinks on drinks on drinks every day, the bad news adds up. We’ve taken a look some popular coffee places in Columbia to find the healthiest options.


So you’re a big Starbucks fan, huh? Well, there are some precautions you should take when ordering your next yummy espresso drink. A rule to follow, which applies almost everywhere, is that the more ingredients in the drink, the more calories and sugar in there, too. Take Starbucks’ grande cappuccino, for example. It only contains coffee and milk and when made with skim has just 80 calories. Compare that to the grande caramel macchiato (vanilla syrup, caramel, milk and espresso), which has 190 calories and a whopping 32 grams of sugar. What a difference! Another good option is a grande café latte. It only has 130 calories and 18 grams of sugar.  

If you cannot do without your chocolate, go ahead and get the grande café mocha. It’s not the most nutritious drink, but switching the 2 percent milk for skim and throwing out the whipped cream will save you 110 calories and 12.5 grams of fat. Now that’s a deal.  

In the mood for something cool and refreshing? Try one of their smoothies. They’re more nutritious than the frappuccinos and are just as tasty and filling. The chocolate smoothie has 280 calories and 34 grams of fat, and the strawberry smoothie has 290 calories and 34 grams of fat. It might sound like a lot, but the smoothies pack a hefty dose of protein and fiber, unlike the vanilla bean frap that has fewer calories but almost twice the sugar.  
Interested in learning more about Starbucks nutrition?  Visit http://www.starbucks.com/menu/nutrition.

Panera Bread Co.
If you decide to stop by Panera for a late afternoon pick-me-up, don’t be fooled by drinks like the scrumptious caramel latte. This 10.5-ounce drink has a whopping 540 calories and 88 grams of sugar – about double the amount of sugar you are supposed to have in one day! The drinks that win again are, drumroll please: the café latte and the cappuccino. Both have a mere 160 calories each and 22 grams of sugar. Yes that’s still a decent amount of sugar, but with espresso drinks, there’s usually no way around it. Make sure to limit your intake. Buy one as a treat every once in a while. If you are craving chocolate, you should stick with Starbucks, because the café mocha here has 400 calories and 80 grams of sugar. Yikes!

Ready to try something new? Get the low-fat mango smoothie. With 230 calories and 48 grams of sugar, it has fewer calories and sugar than any of the other low-fat smoothies at Panera. Check out some other nutrition facts at http://www.paneranutrition.com/NutritionCalculator.

Ah, yes, the golden arches. The place that makes it so easy for us to run in and grab a cup-o-joe also makes it easy for us to grab some extra calories. McDonald’s allows you to add extra flavors to your coffees and lattes just like any other coffee shop does. Adding these flavors and syrups might be your preference, but they are pure calories and sugar. Take a medium latte, for example, which has 180 calories and 13 grams of fat. A medium caramel latte, on the other hand, has 280 calories and 43 grams of fat. Lose the caramel flavor and you’ll save 30 grams of sugar!

For the most part, try to stay away from their shakes and smoothies because they’re loaded (and I mean loaded) with sugar. A 22-ounce vanilla shake has 103 grams of sugar! Stick with the espresso drinks when going to this in-and-out.

Check out http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/nutritionfacts.pdf for other nutrition facts from McDonald’s.

Quick Tips to Remember

  • When you order your favorite drink, have the barista make it with low-fat or skim milk. It will taste the same, but have significantly fewer calories than whole milk or heavy cream.
  • Don’t get the largest size. The smaller sizes will usually satisfy you, and they’ll definitely keep the calorie, fat and sugar counts down.
  • You can still have fun trying your favorite drinks. Just remember, everything in moderation!

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Lindsay Roseman is a senior at the University of Missouri, studying magazine journalism and Spanish. In Columbia, she is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta women's fraternity, Mizzou For Malawi Steering Committee, and can be spotted on campus touring potential Journalism School-ers. This Chicago native loves a good Jodi Picoult book, trying new foods, traveling, and hitting the pavement for a run. After reporting for the school newspaper and interning in her hometown, she spent the summer in NYC at Women's Health Magazine and now is so excited for a great year with HC Mizzou!