Fall’s most famous drink is—spoiler alert—often loaded with sugar and doesn’t have a whole lot of actual pumpkin. Make these healthy tweaks to your next order for a better, more balanced sip.
If there’s one thing that’s synonymous with fall, it’s the pumpkin spice latte. We understand why: the drink is delicious, and with hits of cinnamon and a dollop of whipped cream on top, it feels comforting to hold a warm glass between your hands and enjoy it sip by sip. And while pumpkin, in its natural state, is actually a super-healthy food packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, the sugar-filled PSL doesn’t have a whole lot of it. Which is why the infamous drink can quickly derail your diet—and wreak havoc on your blood sugar and digestive system—if it becomes a go-to order.
So next time you place an order for a delicious PSL, keep these healthy hacks in mind. They’ll make the drink a little less indulgent without sacrificing any of the decadent flavor.
Watch your portions. This is an easy one, but a tip worth repeating: Go for the smallest size at your coffee shop to easily eliminate a crazy amount of calories. If Starbucks is your top choice, opting for a Tall over a Grande (without any other healthy changes) can save you 80 calories, while a Short (the eight-ounce cup you probably forgot existed) saves 170 calories.
Go slow with syrup. Ask for one pump of the pumpkin spice syrup over the standard three in a Tall drink. (Grandes get four and Ventis get five!) That way you’ll still taste a waft of the flavoring you’re looking for without overdoing it. Want more natural flavor? Sprinkle cinnamon on top, then swirl into your drink.
Mix up your milk. Starbucks uses 2% milk as their default, but other coffee shops may use whole—once you know what you want, be sure to specify so it’s crystal clear. Switching to skim can save calories, but remember that the absence of fat means the sugar may hit your bloodstream quicker. You can also opt for nut milks, like almond and coconut, but sweetned varieties—think vanilla almond milk over regular—is used most often, and that contains extra sugar.
Consider a cappuccino. It uses less milk than a latte, so it’s an easy swap that salves calories without drastically changing the taste.
Get back to basics. Want even more of a change? Order a black coffee with one pump of pumpkin spice syrup, then add your own milk and cinnamon.
Skip the whip. Cutting that from your standard drink immediately slashes 70 calories, so save it for when you’re really in the mood to splurge.