Fast Food Shakedown: Starbucks

This popular coffee chain offers a surprisingly healthy menu - just steer clear of the lattes and pastries.
Courtesy of Starbucks

Love it or hate it, coffeehouse chain Starbucks can be found in almost every country on the globe and on seemingly every other urban street corner.

Its omnipresence is great when trying to fuel up before the gym or get some post-workout protein in, and, as a bonus, its selections are remarkably nutritious and sourced from ethically sound and diverse suppliers. It’s tough to find anything that’s really horrible to eat at Starbucks as long as you keep clear of the sugary and carb-laden usual suspects such as any of the cakes, doughnuts, muffins, or scones. Some breakfast items can get high in fat, but there are some solid choices, like the new Sous Vide Egg Bites, which are mini soft-boiled egg cups with various ingredients and are high in protein  and superlow in carbs.

Other great choices include the chain’s Protein Boxes and Bowls, which have at least 20 grams of protein and are easy to take on the go, and its selection of sandwiches and paninis, which don’t top more than 30 grams of fat and offer an average of around 25 grams of protein. For a little sugar with your protein, you can pick up one of the yogurt mixes, and Starbucks also carries packets of Justin’s nut butters to get an easy and clean way to satiate yourself. Its newest culinary experiment is Starbucks Mercato—now available at only a few select stores—which is a new line of lunch preparations focused on high-protein salads, vegetarian dishes, and hot and cold sandwiches that are freshly made each day and feature all-natural ingredients.

PRE-WORKOUT PICK

Look for foods with protein for sustained energy and some carbohydrates to fuel muscle—stay away from fatty and calorie-heavy foods.

Smoked Turkey Protein Box

Smoked turkey, Swiss cheese, pickled peppers, lettuce, cream cheese, apple slices, and baby carrots

Calories: 360 | Protein: 24g | Carbs: 42g | Fat: 12g

POST-WORKOUT PICK

After an intense workout, you need to build your glycogen stores back up with carbs and lean protein to jump-start muscle-tissue repair and the building of new proteins.

Chicken and Quinoa Protein Bowl With Black Beans and Greens

Grilled chicken, chili vinaigrette, greens, tomatoes, roasted corn, black beans, jicama, paprika, and feta

Calories: 420 | Protein: 27g | Carbs: 42g | Fat: 17g

FAST-FOOD FATTENERS

Sometimes items that appear harmless can hide high amounts of fat and carbs, like this:

Chicken and Double-Smoked Bacon Sandwich

Chicken, bacon, and maple mustard on apple brioche bun

Calories: 620 | Protein: 31g | Carbs: 65g | Fat: 26g

 FLEX 

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