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We all know that the best way to eat healthy as much of the time as possible is to prepare and eat meals and snacks at home. But despite our best efforts, it’s simply inevitable. At some point, we’re going to end up needing breakfast or a snack on the go (especially if you’re eating the 5 – 6 times per day we recommend at Athlean-XX), and if Starbucks is the only option, it’s actually not such a bad one! If you ignore the pastry case, there are some reasonably healthy and low calorie snack options at Starbucks. Be aware that not all are as healthy as they might look, but the list below will help you choose the best.
At Athlean-XX for Women our nutrition plan encourages women to focus on healthy nutrition rather than calorie counting, so my analysis below won’t include much in the way of calorie and macronutrient counts. Rather my goal here was to provide you with a list of snacks that contain a combination of protein, slow-burning, non-refined carbs and healthy fats to help keep you full until your next (ideally homemade) meal.
Quick disclaimer. Earlier this year a woman made headlines losing weight on a Starbucks Diet. Please don’t try this. Photos below are from Starbucks’ website.
Latte and Fruit
If you’re just looking for a little a.m. sustenance, a latte and Seasonal Harvest Fruit Blend box is a decent, small breakfast that will give you a bit of protein and some slow-burning carbs to start your day. In your latte, try to steer clear of adding syrup or lots of sugars, as these will mess with your blood sugar levels and your weight loss goals.
This is a great choice if your goal is to fill up on whole grains and avoid refined white flour. Add the dried fruits and nuts for a well-rounded breakfast, but skip the brown sugar if you can.
Breakfast Wraps and Sandwiches
There are 5 breakfast sandwiches and 2 breakfast wraps on Starbucks’ Hot Breakfasts menu. One might expect the wraps to be the better nutritional choice, but in reality the Breakfast Wraps and Breakfast Sandwiches at Starbucks are nutritionally similar. Obviously, the sandwiches that contain pork bacon contain a bit more fat, but not necessarily more calories. The bread in the breakfast sandwiches is made of refined white flour, but the wraps appear to be only partially whole wheat flour. If your goal is to avoid refined flours, your best bet is probably the oatmeal, fruit and a latte or a yogurt parfait (see snacks below).
Steer Clear: The Sausage and Cheddar Classic Breakfast Sandwich is definitely the worst choice on the Hot Breakfasts menu. It clocks in at 500 calories (about 150 – 200 more than any of the other sandwiches), and 28g of fat. Scary fact…the McDonald’s equivalent, a Sausage McMuffin with Egg is actually a lower-calorie, lower fat choice!
Most of these boxes are pretty good lunch choices, as they contain a nice mix of fruits, veggies and proteins and a small portion of partially-whole grain crackers or bread. The only box that contains all whole grain carbs (as opposed to refined wheat flour) are the Chipotle Chicken Wraps. The best Bistro Box for a filling, high-protein lunch is the box called (appropriately) Protein which comes with fruits, cheese, eggs, peanut butter and a little multigrain bread.
Starbucks has a selection of both Panini and classic bread sandwiches. If you’re trying to stick to whole grains, your best options are the sandwiches which are made with whole grain wheat or multigrain bread. The Panini is made with refined white flour.
Starbucks has three Smoothies that they make with fruit, milk, whey protein powder and fiber powder. These are not a bad post-workout snack, but may be higher in calories and sugars than when made at home. Of the three flavors Starbucks makes, Chocolate, Orange Mango and Strawberry, Chocolate is actually the best option with slightly more protein and slightly less sugar than the other two flavors.
Starbucks has two types of parfaits: Greek Yogurt Parfaits with fruit only and regular Yogurt Parfaits with fruit and granola. Any of these are a great snack or breakfast option as they combine healthy lean protein with some good slow-burning carbs in the form of fruit and whole-grain oats. The Greek Yogurt Parfaits have half the calories or less than the traditional parfaits.
Steer Clear: There’s really nothing healthy to eat in the pastry display, even if words like “Multigrain” or “Reduced Fat” make them sound healthy. Multigrain doesn’t mean fewer calories, and these muffins are as high in calories as the sandwiches, but without the protein and veggies, so you’d be better off eating the whole sandwich instead. In order to make a product Reduced Fat, they have to add sugars, so the Reduced Fat options retain the same calorie count and often have even more carbs. Don’t bother with these healthier-sounding options – they’re not healthier, and they’re a recipe for a mid-afternoon sugar crash.
There are times and places for occasional treats and cheats. The best option is to keep them to a single meal (rather than an entire Cheat Day) and to keep them small. As Jeff Cavaliere, creator of the Athlean-XX for Women program says, “If you’re eating 35 meals per week and 32 of them are perfect…that’s a pretty good rate of success!” All of the Starbucks Petites pastries are less than 200 calories, and are better treat options than their larger standard size counterparts.
At Athlean-XX for Women we believe that flexibility is key to creating a healthy lifestyle you can stick with. We designed Athlean-XX for Women to be sustainable, flexible and enjoyable because we want it to be the LAST diet and fitness plan you’ll ever need! On the Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan, you’ll be eating healthy, tasty foods 5 – 6x per day so that you never feel hungry. You’ll also get your metabolism running high all day in fat burning mode! The nutrition plan is flexible too – follow our 12 weeks of set meal plans or make up your own using our guidelines! Join us on Team Athlean to discover your plan for lifelong diet success!
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