When it comes to eating healthy, there’s a key differentiator between the plans that work and the ones that are impossible to stick to: the level of restriction. Not only is an overly restrictive diet pretty darn miserable to follow, but people are less likely to commit to it long-term. It’s one reason why the ketogenic diet (which is not overly restrictive) has steadily remained popular over the past several years.
The high-fat, low-carb eating plan is designed to put the body into ketosis, which makes the body burn fat faster. Many find it easy to follow because of the long, long list of foods you can enjoy while on it. In fact, you can even keep going to Starbucks on the regular. Nutritionist Kristina Hess, MS, CNS, LDN (who is known as the “keto nutritionist”), says that the key to keeping your Starbucks order keto-approved is to avoid drinks high in sugar, which is often found in the flavored syrups. She adds that many of the milk options (including dairy and oat milk) are high in carbohydrates, something else to be mindful of.
Extra Easy Keto author Stephanie Laska says that she lost 140 pounds on the ketogenic diet—and she still went to Starbucks regularly. But keeping your order keto does take some conscious effort. “Be careful what you order at Starbucks while on a ketogenic diet. Some popular drinks contain more carbs than a full-size Snickers bar,” Laska says. “Keep your Starbucks drink order ketogenic-friendly by requesting it made with low-carb substitutes, such as heavy cream or sugar-free sweeteners.”
It’s important to know that just because a Starbucks drink may fit within the ketogenic diet guidelines doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Hess says that even though heavy cream and sugar-free sweeteners are technically keto-approved, they lack nutritional benefits. With that in mind, keep reading to see 20 keto Starbucks drinks, with additional information on if they’re healthy or not.
20 Keto Starbucks Drinks
Hess says that black coffee is the safest ketogenic-friendly drink to order at Starbucks and supports ketosis for most people. “Coffee can improve fat burning especially if utilized prior to exercise which will also drive ketones higher,” she says. However, she adds that not everyone has the same metabolic response to caffeine. “Some people have a spiked blood sugar response to caffeine, so for those folks, I recommend switching to decaf and waiting about 90 minutes after waking to have the first cup of coffee,” she says.
2. Decaf Coffee
While the caffeine in coffee can help improve fat burning in many people, if caffeinated coffee isn’t for you, you can order a decaf coffee and still stay in ketosis. Besides being carb-free, decaf coffee has many of the same benefits as caffeinated coffee, including supporting brain health and longevity.
3. Cold Brew
Cold brew is made by steeping coffee in cold water for a prolonged amount of time (typically between 12 and 24 hours). Just like with caffeinated coffee and decaf coffee, it doesn’t have any carbs—making it keto-approved. Since it’s made with coffee, you get the same health benefits as you would ordering a hot drip coffee too.
Espresso gives a more intense caffeine hit than black coffee because less water is used in the brewing process. Since espresso is a type of coffee, it offers similar health benefits while being 100 percent keto-approved.
5. Red Eye
If you really need a pick-me-up, ordering a red eye will do the trick: it’s a combination of coffee and espresso. As you know by now, both of these ingredients are keto-approved, making the red eye another drink option that won’t kick you out of ketosis.
6. Espresso con Panna
Espresso con panna translates to “espresso with cream” in Italian. At Starbucks, it’s made with two shots of espresso and whipped cream. As Hess explained, the cream is keto-friendly, but the calories can add up quickly—something to keep in mind if you are following the ketogenic diet for weight loss. But the small serving of the espresso con panna has built-in portion control; there’s only a spoonful of whipped cream in the drink.
7. Flat White With Almond Milk
Hess says that Starbucks drinks made with dairy milk or oat milk contain too many carbohydrates to be considered keto-friendly and, unfortunately, the brand’s almond milk contains sugar. That said, as long as you stick to a tall or grande size, ordering a flat white with almond milk is keto-approved. A grande has nine carbohydrates while the ketogenic diet guidelines allow for between 15 and 30 grams of carbs a day, depending on your activity level.
8. Cappuccino With Almond Milk
As with flat whites, the milk in cappuccinos doesn’t exactly make it a ketogenic slam dunk, but if you order one with almond milk and watch your carbs the rest of the day, you can still enjoy one while staying in ketosis. A tall size has about seven grams of carbohydrates.
9. London Fog With Heavy Cream
Traditionally, a Starbucks London Fog is made with Earl Grey tea, steamed milk and vanilla syrup. As Hess has pointed out, neither steamed dairy milk or sugar-y syrups are keto-friendly, but with a few modifications, you can turn this drink into a ketogenic one. Ask for it to be made with heavy cream instead and request sugar-free vanilla syrup. Again, this doesn’t make the drink “healthy,” but it does make it ketogenic.
10. Iced Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte
Just like with the London Fog, switching out the sugary syrup in a cinnamon dolce latte for the sugar-free version gives it a ketogenic makeover by cutting the carbs down. Go for almond milk and keep the size a tall or grande to keep the carbs under 13 grams.
11. Iced Coffee With Sugar-free Vanilla Syrup and Almond Milk
The ingredients in this drink are similar to the iced skinny cinnamon dolce latte; it’s just a different kind of sugar-free syrup. Is this drink full of nutrient value? Not really, but it’s still a way to enjoy something sweet without breaking ketosis, which may help with staying committed to the eating plan long-term.
12. Almond Milk Latte
Latte lovers, this one’s for you. As long as you order your latte specifying almond milk, you can enjoy a low-carb drink. As Hess pointed out, there will still be some carbs from the sugar in the almond milk, but a grande almond milk latte only has five carbs.
13. Espresso Macchiato With Heavy Cream
A macchiato is made with espresso and a small bit of milk and is a great drink option if you want the caffeine rush of espresso but don’t like to sip it straight. Ask for it made with heavy cream for a low-carb, high-fat hit.
14. Black Tea
As with coffee, Hess and Laska both say that tea is one of the safest ways to order a ketogenic drink at Starbucks. Unsweetened black tea is one of the healthiest beverages in existence, full of antioxidants that are linked to longevity. There are absolutely no carbs in it either.
15. Chai Tea
While many of the drinks on Starbucks’ menu are full of syrups made with sugar or artificial sweeteners, the flavors in chai tea naturally have hints of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. As with black tea, there are no carbs whatsoever in this drink.
16. Emperor’s Cloud & Mist
Another zero-carb, zero-sugar, zero-calorie drink you’ll find on the Starbucks menu is the Emperor’s Cloud & Mist. This drink is a type of green tea that’s smokier in taste than matcha or traditional green tea.
17. Matcha Green Tea
Starbucks’ matcha isn’t as nutrient-rich as traditional matcha because it is sweetened with sugar, but you can still order it knowing that it won’t kick you out of ketosis. One serving of matcha powder has six grams of carbs. Stick with requesting it is made with water instead of milk to prevent the carb count from creeping up.
18. Iced Passion Tango Tea
Made with an infusion of hibiscus, cinnamon, apple, licorice root, lemongrass, fruit juice extract and natural flavors, Starbucks’ iced Passion Tango tea is completely carb-free.
19. Iced Pink Drink With Heavy Cream
Starbucks’ popular pink drink is traditionally made with the brand’s strawberry acai base, coconut milk, and freeze-dried strawberries. Unfortunately, these ingredients are high in both sugar and carbs. What’s a pink drink lover to do? Ask for a keto pink drink instead! This off-the-menu drink is made with Passion Tango tea, heavy cream, sugar-free vanilla syrup and freeze-dried strawberries—and will be just as refreshing.
20. Spindrift Sparkling Water
Don’t overlook the cooler section when looking for a keto-approved drink at Starbucks. Spindrift sparkling water is made with just sparkling water and fruit essence; there’s no added sugar and it’s carb-free.