Lunch Break: The Highest- and Lowest-Calorie Holiday Drinks

One of them contains 20 percent of your recommended daily fat intake.

It's the most wonderful time of the year . . . for holiday-themed drinks! But many of them contain high amounts of sugar and fat. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user C_Jones.

We love this time of year: the lights, the window displays . . . and especially the menus of holiday-themed drinks at coffee shops and cafes. But after checking out nutritional information for three of the most popular coffee chains’ offerings, it’s safe to say those seasonal beverages aren’t exactly helping you avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain.

Here’s our rundown of some of the most popular holiday hot beverages. We hope it helps you stay off your personal trainer’s naughty list.


Pumpkin spice latte: It’s not fall until you stop by Starbucks and grab that first cup. Normally, a snack or treat should be no more than 300 calories—luckily, a tall pumpkin spice latte is exactly that. But it also packs 11 grams of fat (7 grams of which are saturated, which is 35 percent of the recommended daily total. Almost all the fat is from the whipped cream). If you can’t enjoy it without whipped cream, opt for nonfat or soy milk.

Peppermint mocha: A tall peppermint mocha with 2 percent milk offers 320 calories and the same 35 percent of your daily saturated fat. If you opt for nonfat milk and skip the whip, you can upgrade to a grande for a guilt-free 290 calories and 2.5 grams of fat.

Caramel brûlée latte: Careful with this sugary one. Order it tall with soy and no whipped cream, and you’ll get 270 calories, 17 percent of your carbs, and even a little fiber. You could squeak by with a grande if you order it with nonfat milk and no whipped cream (making it a fat-free 310 calories), but you’d have to watch your sugar intake for the rest of the day—the 50 grams amounts to 23 percent of your daily carbs.

Gingerbread latte: You can sip a tall gingerbread with 2 percent and whipped cream and still be in the clear calorie-, sugar-, and carb-wise, but you’d still have to worry about the fat. (If you haven’t noticed, whipped cream can make or break you.)

Caramel apple spice: This seemingly simple drink tops out at 260 calories if you order a tall, but the real culprit is the sugar. Thanks to the apple juice, cinnamon syrup, whipped cream, and “buttery caramel sauce,” the drink contains 56 grams of sugar. Even losing the whipped cream only cuts four grams of sugar. The good news is that without the topping, the drink has zero fat.


Fa La Latte: If the caffeine is as important as the holiday spirit, then this is the drink you want. If you order it small (and with fat-free whipped cream), this potent eggnog-espresso concoction is 180 grams of caffeine, 285 calories, nine grams of fat (seven saturated—from the drink, not the whip), and 145 milligrams of sodium.

Ho Ho Mint Mocha: Here’s another one that requires diligence. A small has 280 calories and is going to give you at least seven grams of saturated fat, even if you stick to dark chocolate, skim milk, and no whip.


Pumpkin coffee, mocha, or latte/pumpkin white chocolate coffee: Though perhaps not as popular as Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice, DD’s pumpkin options are a lot less decadent. In fact, most of the doughnut chain’s seasonal drinks are fat-free and relatively tame. A small pumpkin coffee with cream is 160 calories and six grams of fat (3.5 saturated—all from the cream). Nutritionally, there isn’t much difference between the coffee, the white chocolate coffee, and the mocha, but the latte will add fatty dairy.

Gingerbread coffee/latte: Without add-ons, the extra-large gingerbread coffee is 230 calories (though it does contain some sodium and 49 grams of carbs). Again, adding cream or other dairy will up your fat content, but overall this is a treat you can afford to indulge in pretty often. If you want it latte style, go for a small or medium with skim.

Peppermint mocha/mocha latte: A small minty mocha with cream contains 180 calories and six grams of fat, four saturated. Instead, try a skim mocha latte; it’s 200 calories, without the fat.

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