Nonfat milk. At Starbucks, switch from 2% milk to nonfat to save 60 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat in a grande latte, and 40 calories in a grande cappuccino. Panera uses less milk, so the same swap saves 30 calories in a medium latte or cappuccino. At McDonald’s, getting nonfat milk instead of whole saves 80 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat in a medium.
Soy milk. Swapping 2% milk for soy saves only 20 calories in a grande latte at Starbucks. (Its soy milk has 4 teaspoons of added sugar.) At Panera, soy milk cuts 30 calories but tacks on 2 teaspoons of added sugar. At either chain, the soy has 3 grams less protein.
Whipped cream. Skip the whip to save 70 to 110 calories and 5 to 7 grams of saturated fat in a medium drink.
Syrups. At Starbucks, each pump has about 20 calories and 1 teaspoon of sugar. A tall gets 3 pumps, a grande gets 4, and a venti gets 5. The sugar-free (calorie-free) syrups are sweetened with sucralose (which we give a “caution” rating for safety—see chemicalcuisine.org).
At Panera and McDonald’s, syrups add around 100 calories and 5 to 7 teaspoons of sugar to a medium latte. At both chains, the sugar-free syrups contain acesulfame-potassium (which we rate as “avoid”) and sucralose.
Tea. A Starbucks grande Classic Chai Tea Latte has 240 calories and 7 teaspoons of added sugar. An Oprah Chai Tea Latte has 200 calories and 5 teaspoons, as does a Chai Tea Latte at Panera. Sugar overload.
Caffeine. At Starbucks, you’ll get 50-100 mg in a grande chai tea latte, 100 mg in a Frappuccino made with coffee, 150 mg in a latte or cappuccino, and 330 mg in a regular coffee.
At Panera, expect 20 mg in a medium chai tea latte, 120 mg in a latte or cappuccino, 190 mg in a regular coffee, and 270 mg in a frozen caramel or mocha.
At either chain, you’ll get about 70 mg in a shot of espresso.
McDonald’s doesn’t publish numbers.
Other relevant links:
• The healthiest beverage options at Starbucks. See: What to Eat: What to Drink at Starbucks
• The best breakfast and drink options at Panera. See: What to Eat and Drink at Panera
• What not to eat at an Italian restaurant. See: These Entrées are Good Examples of What Not to Eat at an Italian Restaurant