Is it time to break up with your PSL?


Oh the PSL. A Fall favorite. If you automatically know what PSL is, I’m talking to you. Even if you don’t you should still listen up. Besides the very popular Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) that makes its grand entrance every Fall, there are many other flavored coffee drinks that tempt us this time of year. 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 in here in the Pacific Northwest.

This is definitely the time of year 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 PSL might not do too much damage once in awhile, 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.

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. I saw your eyes roll. I get it though, that’s not going to happen in many cases. Temptations are real. Maybe we can find a way to live with the PSL in a way that is not as detrimental. Maybe?

Let’s walk through some change-up, swap-out options, from beginner to advanced. Find where you can reasonably start and go from there.

How to Change up Your PSL

Beginner change-up: Simply buy a smaller drink. Instead of a grande or normal size, go a size smaller.

Beginner +: Reduce the size + change up the type of milk. Ask for nonfat milk. Better yet, choose a non-dairy version like almond milk. For an additional boost, ask for less PSL syrup.


Intermediate level change-up: Reduce the number of times you buy these coffee drinks. Even one or two less per week or even per month adds up substantially over the months!

Intermediate +: Combine all of the beginner steps with reducing the frequency.


Pro level change-up: Make your own at home! Use this month’s PSL recipe for a far less sugar- laden and way more natural version you can keep on hand throughout the winter.

Pro level +: Stop drinking any sugar-containing coffee beverages. It’s a good goal, right?


If the PSL has you in its addictive hold, try making this fun Fall drink recipe below one day 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 simply with a spoon.


Just for fun, comparing the effects of a few of these alterations against the Starbucks standard….


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