Don’t Fall Victim to Stealthy Sugar
Written by Michele Vieux

I quit drinking coffee a year and a half ago, but I still like to treat myself from time to time. On a recent trip to the grocery store on a warm day, I decided it would be nice to enjoy a venti iced coffee from the Starbucks inside. There were a couple of people in line so naturally I was totally spacing out and was staring at the menu and I noticed that the iced coffee I was about to order had 170 calories from carbs!

I was hoping it was a mistake and the nutritional information which was listed was for the sweet iced coffee. Alas, it was not. Upon my scrutinizing, the kid behind the counter sheepishly admitted that they put simple syrup (a heaping teaspoon of sugar worth) into the UNSWEETENED iced coffee! No wonder I found them so tasty. How many times had I ordered one of these? I have unknowingly consumed at least 100 heaping teaspoons of sugar, the very substance I try desperately to avoid!

Now I am an avid label reader, in the case that I do purchase something with a label, but it never occurred to me that I would need to be in this case. This just goes to show that anyone can fall victim to stealthy sugar doses. It makes me wonder what other mistakes I have been oblivious to.

To lessen your chances of becoming a victim:

  • Make your own meals including all condiments and sauces. Only use the good stuff.
  • If you purchases packaged foods, read the label and learn to recognize all the names of sugar and other undesired ingredients. Also read the labels of your supplements and post-workout recovery, etc.
  • Check menus online before dining at a restaurant and decide on your order before arriving. Ask questions if necessary. Many restaurants are sensitive to gluten allergies and the desire to switch out starchy sides for veggies.
  • Order dishes without sauces and dressings or order them on the side so you can test it before it is slathered all over your food.

Be vigilant . . . stealthy sugars are everywhere!

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Mark p
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Mark p

Unsweetened iced coffee does not contain sugar

Regarding sweetened iced coffee  Starbucks uses thier Classic syrup to sweeten it.  All syrups (minus sugar-free) have 20 calorie per pump, and an iced venti coffee will come with 6 pumps, grande with 4, and tall with 3, so 120, 80, and 60 calories respectively. 

The iced coffee itself is just double strength brewed coffee with no added sugar and very low in calories.

Calvin Sun
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Calvin Sun

A teaspoon of sugar is approximately 4 grams of carbohydrate. 1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories. A teaspoon of sugar has about 16 calories which is definitely not 170. You would need about 42.5 grams of sugar to get to 170 calories. 42.5 grams is approximately 10.5 teaspoons or 3.5 tablespoons of sugar.

Drew
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Drew

While we’re at this, is there a sugar-substitute that is invictus/paleo-approved? Honey? Anything for coffee?

Katherine O
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Katherine O

So glad you wrote an article about this b/c I was wondering the same thing! How would ICE add over 100 calories to something?! That is nuts! Maybe that’s why they stopped asking if you want your coffee “sweetened” or not? Scary stuff!

Michele Vieux
Admin
Michele Vieux

Really? I both asked the barista AND emailed the customer help line and got the same answer from both – sugar in the unsweetened.

Danielle Vasiliou
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Danielle Vasiliou

Hi! I’m a starbucks partner and also an avid paleo eater, and I want to correct something. The UNSWEETENED iced coffee has 5 calories, but to be fair, if you don’t ask for it unsweetened, the default is SWEETENED.

Danielle Vasiliou
Guest
Danielle Vasiliou

However, I DO completely agree! READ LABELS! And not just at Starbucks.