Now that we’re in the middle of the holiday season, your corner coffee shop’s menu is likely to be full of holiday coffee drinks in flavors such as eggnog, peppermint, and more.

They may seem like a harmless seasonal indulgence, but with their high calorie, fat, and sugars content, you may find yourself putting on weight if you drink too many of them.


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Starbucks’ Gingerbread Latte, for instance, has 260 calories, 7 grams of fat and 36 grams (about 9 teaspoons) of sugars in a 16-ounce cup. That’s more calories than you’d get in a Hershey's Bar. But what’s really surprising is that it’s one of the less caloric seasonal options available at popular coffee chains.

To see just how much diet damage these drinks can do, we compared the nutrition numbers on a few 16-ounce holiday coffee drinks ordered straight off the menus with no customization at Caribou Coffee, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, Peet's Coffee, and Starbucks. (See chart below.)

Then our nutrition experts came up with some tips to help you turn them into more manageable indulgences. (See "Make Them Healthier" section, below.)

Calories (all drinks are 16 oz.)Fat (g)

Saturated Fat (g)

Sugars (g)

Caribou Coffee

Campfire Mocha, milk chocolate (2 percent milk; whipped cream)64034

21

67 (~17 teaspoons)

Ho Ho Mint Mocha, milk chocolate (2 percent milk; whipped cream)63034

21

66 (~17 teaspoons)

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
Peppermint Vanilla Ice Blended 48010

8

81 (~20 teaspoons)

Cookie Butter Latte42011

11

56 sugars (~14 teaspoons)

Dunkin' Donuts

Creme Brulee Swirl Hot Latte (whole milk)

3509

5

54 (~14 teaspoons)

Salted Caramel Swirl Hot Latte (whole milk)3509

5

54 (~14 teaspoons)

McDonald's

McCafe Peppermint Mocha (whole milk)

41014

8

52 (~13 teaspoons)

Peet's Coffee
Eggnog Latte (eggnog)65029

20

75 (~19 teaspoons)

Havana Dulce Cappucino (whole milk)26010

6

31 (~8 teaspoons)

Starbucks
Gingerbread Frappuccino Blended Beverage (whole milk; whipped cream)37014

9

58 (~15 teaspoons)

Chestnut Praline Latte (2 percent milk; whipped cream)33013

8

39 (~10 teaspoons)

Make Them Healthier

Though we can’t turn them into health foods, if you mix and match these tips, you can shave significant calories, fat, and sugars off your holiday coffee drink.

1. Downsize. Sounds obvious, but ordering a smaller size improves the drink’s nutritional profile while still giving you the flavor you’re craving. In some cases, it will drop the drink’s calorie count below 200. For example, a Short (8 ounces) Chestnut Praline Latte at Starbucks clocks in at 190 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 21 grams of sugars. A small drink is still a treat, but it’s one that’s a lot easier to work into your diet.

2. Swap in nonfat milk. It won’t help you cut the sugars, but it will trim calories and fat. For example, at Dunkin’ Donuts, where the default milk is whole, you save 70 calories and 9 grams of fat on a 16-ounce Crème Brulee Swirl Hot Latte by switching to skim. (At Caribou, Peet’s, and Starbucks, you get 2 percent milk if you don’t specify.) This trick won’t help at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, though; all the flavored drinks are already made with nonfat milk. It also doesn’t work if the drink is created with a premade mix, as some of the eggnog lattes are.

3. Leave off the whipped cream. Not all coffee drinks come topped with whipped cream, but skipping it on the ones that do can save you 80 to 150 calories and 7 to 14 grams of fat.

4. Combine tips 1 through 3. It will make a real dent in the calories, fat, and sugars. For instance, at Starbucks a Tall Gingerbread Frappuccino Blended Beverage (12 ounces) with nonfat milk and no whipped cream has 180 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 41 grams of sugars. That's 51 percent fewer calories and 29 percent fewer sugars than the original—and you completely cut the fat. The Chestnut Praline Latte drops to 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 18 grams of sugars when you order a Short with nonfat milk and no whipped cream.

5. Skip the eggnog drinks. They have more calories, fat, and sugars than an equal-sized serving of actual eggnog. In fact, eggnog lattes were usually the nutritionally worst holiday coffee drinks in the chains we looked at that served them.

6. Switch the syrup. Although milk has about 12 grams of sugars per 8 ounces from the lactose that it naturally contains, the majority of the sugar calories in a lot of these drinks come from flavored syrup. Some of the chains offer sugar-free syrups for certain drinks.

If there isn't a sugar-free option, ask the server to use half the normal amount of syrup in your drink.