The Pumpkin Spice Latte is Back. But, is it time to break up with your PSL?

Pumpkin Spice Latte Blog

Oh, the PSL. If you automatically know what PSL is, I’m talking to you. Even if you don’t, you should still listen up. I’m talking about the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL), which makes its grand entrance with much fanfare every Fall.

Before you make the wrong assumption, I do personally love sweet coffee drinks. Warm, tasty beverages are a treat and a comfort, and they help us cope with the cold weather and disappearance of the sun, at least here in the Pacific Northwest.

However, this is definitely the time of year when I start to notice many are drinking more of their calories. For some it may not seem like a big deal….a coffee drink here or there….but when health goals are not being met, the culprit is often in liquid form.

You already know where I’m going with this. The downside with flavored coffee drinks is the staggering amount of sugar and calories in these seemingly harmless drinks. While a small Pumpkin Spice latte might not do too much damage once in a while, having these even several times a week can really put a dent in your calorie budget and send your blood sugar through the roof.

While I am not here to deny you a seasonal beverage, I do want you to be smart about it.

The Pumpkin Spice Latte: The Basics

Let’s start with some basics. A grande PSL from Starbucks with 2% milk is going to put you back about 390 calories. That’s almost 20% of a 2,000 calorie diet. You also get 52g of carbohydrates, with 50g of that derived from sugar. There’s also 14g of protein, which is a plus, but it’s countered with 14g of fat.

To help put these numbers in perspective, most people managing their blood sugar or being conscious of their weight are typically advised to consume less than 45-60g of carbohydrates in a MEAL. Clearly then, 52g in one DRINK is a substantial amount.

What is a PSL lover to do?

The easy answer is to stop drinking them … but let’s be realistic. The Pumpkin Spice latte is here to stay, and the truth is, we don’t necessarily need to cut out all sugar. Maybe we can figure out how to live with the PSL in a way that is not as detrimental. Maybe?

Let’s walk through some change-up, swap-out options that you can use to rethink your drink. Just start with one and go from there.

How to Change up Your Pumpkin Spice Latte

While you may not be ready to give up your PSL forever, making a few changes to your favorite beverage might go a long way for your health.

Check this list of ideas you can use to make smarter beverage choices. The more of these you use, the more points you get! 😉

Holiday beverage change-ups to consider:

  • Buy a smaller drink! Instead of a grand or regular size, go one size smaller.
  • Change the type of milk. Always use whole milk? Go for 2% instead. Better yet, try almond milk or another milk alternative.
  • Reduce the sugar. Ask the barista for half the normal syrup, or try a sugar-free option.
  • Reduce the number of drinks you buy. Even one or two less per week adds up for your health and your wallet.
  • Make your own at home. Instead of buying coffee drinks at a coffee shop, make your own at home (see recipe below).
  • Stop drinking any sugar-containing coffee beverages all together! A great goal, right?

And if you need any more reasons to make a few changes, check out this comparison between the standard Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte and a homemade version (using the spice mix referenced below)

Starbucks Grande PSL w/ 2% milk Homemade Tall PSL w/ almond milk
390 calories 120 kcal
52g carbohydrate (50g sugar) 19g carbohydrate (13g sugar)
14g fat 3.8g fat
14g protein 1.6g protein


In Summary

If the PSL has you in its addictive hold, think about how you can make a few simple changes that will benefit your health while still keeping your taste buds happy.

And, if you feel ready to start making your own Pumpkin Spice latte, try making this fun Fall drink recipe below and let me know what you think. It may not be the “same,” but you know it’s going to be healthier, lighter, and easier on the pocketbook.

Happy Fall!


Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

  • 1 cup warm “milk” of your choosing (cashew milk and oat milk are my personal favorites)
  • 1-2 shots of espresso or regular black coffee, as desired
  • 1 tbsp PSL syrup (see recipe link below from Living Well Mom)

Living Well Mom Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Mix well with hand-held frother or a spoon.