Kat Benson, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Top Nutrition Coaching, believes the “healthiest” drink depends on why you want it.
Starbucks beverages' sugar content worries me most. The AHA advises adults to limit added sugar to 36 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Starbucks' large Caffè Mocha includes 35 grams of sugar. Low-sugar Starbucks beverages are often healthier.
Sugary drinks raise and lower blood sugar. They offer us a surge of energy, but the crash may leave us hungry and less content. The risk of heart disease or tooth decay may grow with time.
Benson said high-sugar meals and drinks can replace better, more nutrient-dense items in the diet. “Whenever we replace nutrient-dense foods, we can develop deficiencies.”
Benson acknowledges that our food culture demonizes sugar, making us feel guilty or humiliated after drinking sugary drinks. A healthy connection with food is the first step to better decisions.
“You need that informed awareness to make that choice of what is going to help (you) feel better and have that balance,” Benson adds. She advises treating yourself. Something with more sugar may be helpful if you need a rapid energy boost at the gym.
When returning to your work, a less sweet drink and food will provide more prolonged energy. Benson suggests two cheese sticks or a granola bar for fat, protein, and blood sugar management.
If so, try a latte, black coffee, or tea. Benson suggests customizing your order if you don't want a simple cup of coffee. How about less syrup pumps? Leave out the whipped cream? Replace a sweetened latte with a cold foam cold brew?
“We are considering various steps... It's ridiculous to expect someone to go from the most sugary beverage to black coffee, Benson says. It'll take time for those sweet-tooth tastes to adjust to less sugar.
According to Benson, decaf coffee is the healthiest late afternoon option. Short-term caffeine overdose causes headaches, anxiety, irritability, muscular tremors, and fast pulse. Late-day drinking can also impair sleep quality and amount.