Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Nutritionista on Starbuck's sweeteners

I've had a few friends ask me to blog on special topics.  So this one goes out to Jill, one of my totally awesome workout partners.  You make me look bad every week, but I love you anyway.    

She asked me to talk about good vs. evil with respect to sweeteners.  She likes to dilute her Starbuck's with "add-ons" and was wondering what the best option was for doing so.

So here goes:

  • No added sugar/sweetener in a low-calorie coffee is the best option.  If that's not an option for you, try skim or soy milk.  If that's not an option, read on.
  • Honey would actually be the next best option, but I don't think Starbuck's offers that.  It may be the only form of sugar not currently available at Starbuck's.  Seriously Barista' did you let this happen?  People are paying $4 for something that costs less than a dollar.  Offer them honey.  
  • If most of your diet is low in sugar, then just sweeten your coffee with sugar.   A teaspoon of sugar is about 4 g or 16 calories...a small amount if you're adding it to a black coffee or non-fat latte.  Even adding two teaspoons of sugar is not that bad.  The general recommendation is to limit added sugars to less than 100 calories per day.  So if you avoid sugar sodas, candy, baked goods, etc., then a small amount in your coffee is a-okay.  The flavored syrups are sugar-based and are about 20-25 1 pump is not a huge deal (unless you're adding to a Venti Mocha Frappuccino that already has over 350 that point, stop kidding yourself that it's a "coffee" and just go get a Ben & Jerry's).  
  • If you eat a lot of sugar, then artificial sweeteners are probably a good idea for you.  That is assuming that you can tolerate them.  Some people get headaches from Nutrasweet or gas/bloating from other artificial sweeteners.  Some people find the sugar-free syrups to really cause gas.  Everyone is different when it comes to these things so figure out what works best for you.
  • Nutrasweet versus Sucralose?  Again, I think personal preference based on your tolerance.  There is nothing healthy about any 'artificial sweetener'...the word, "artificial", should be your first clue (duh).  Arguing over which is better is silly.  One or two sachets in your coffee are fine.  
For me personally, I try to choose organic, natural food as much as reasonably possible, but I like to have a Diet Coke at least a few times a week.  And sometimes I eat black licorice and red wine for dinner.  (This is probably why Jill kicks my a$$ at our workouts).  But I like my coffee black.  And I think honey rocks.    


  1. Great incite, thanks Dr. T

  2. What about stevia? Always meant to ask you about this one...Also, I recently gave up soda. Am struggling with it, but have found that deleting Coke Zero from my life has made me cranky, but less bloated.

  3. I like stevia. It seems to be a good option as well. The only downside that I see is that it just hasn't been around as long as the other sweeteners so we don't know as much about it. When used reasonably, I doubt there is much to worry about.

    Interesting about your Coke Zero experience. I gave up diet sodas for a while and sadly, was still just as cranky. :)

  4. Great info!! I like the honey idea! I'm going to ask my friends at starbux about that. They have seriously become my friends. I'm there so often it's really a little sad! And.....Seriously!!! You kick my butt 10 times over!! Fo real!!!! You're the best!!


    Check out that link for a news article about a new natural sweetener made from monk fruit. Starbuck's....are you reading this?!?