High-Protein Drinks at Starbucks for Athletes

High Protein Drinks at Starbucks for Athletes | peuplebreton

It can be helpful for athletes to know what high-protein drinks are available at Starbucks that can support them with meeting their nutrition needs.

Let’s take a look at the protein needs of athletes. Then we will explore the Starbucks menu for high-protein drinks that athletes can enjoy as part of their sports nutrition meal plan.

Protein Needs of Athletes

Protein is important in the diet of athletes. It has many essential roles in the body, including supporting athletes with repairing and building lean muscle mass.

To get the most benefit from protein, athletes are encouraged to spread their protein intake throughout the day with several meals and snacks. Athletes should aim to consume ~0.25 – 0.3 grams of protein per kg of body weight at each eating occasion (12). 

In general, this calculates to be in the range of ~25-30 grams of protein at each meal/snack. In addition, athletes should include protein in their post-workout snacks and meals to support their recovery nutrition needs (1). 

It is important for athletes to remember that muscle growth does not come from eating protein alone. To gain muscle, athletes must combine their sports nutrition diet with a well-planned strength and conditioning program.

High-Protein Drinks at Starbucks for Athletes

When exploring the Starbucks menu for high-protein drinks, athletes should be mindful that plain coffee, espresso, and tea contain minimal protein (<1 gram). Thus, the protein content of the drink is related to the added ingredients.

Adding cow’s milk to your drink at Starbuck’s will create the highest protein drink. Plant-based milks, such as almond, coconut, or oat milk, are low in protein.

Athletes following a vegetarian or vegan diet desiring a high-protein drink at Starbucks should opt for soy milk in their beverage. Soy milk has a higher protein content than the other plant-based milks available.

For athletes to meet their protein needs at a meal or snack, they should combine a drink containing protein with other protein-rich food items.

High Protein Drinks at Starbucks

Starbucks Nutrition Information

When reviewing the drinks below, the protein content will be based upon the use of nonfat (skim) milk in the beverage.

Nonfat milk has the same protein, vitamin, and mineral content as whole milk, just without the fat. Thus, unless an athlete is trying to gain weight, I would suggest selecting nonfat milk in your Starbucks drink.

All the nutrition and product information included in this article comes from the Starbucks website and Starbucks app. Menu options and nutrition information may change as products are updated. For the most current nutrition information, refer to the Starbucks website.

Note on Caffeine

Athletes should note that the coffee and tea drinks discussed below contain caffeine.

Caffeine may be consumed prior to exercise to reduce feelings of perceived effort, increase alertness, or to assist with competing at a higher intensity. However, high doses of caffeine (≥9 mg/kg body weight) may lead to negative side effects, such as anxiety, jitters, and nausea (3).

Athletes differ in how they respond to and metabolize caffeine (4). Thus, it is important for athletes to take the caffeine content of drinks into consideration, especially when being consumed prior to activity.

High-Protein Hot Drinks at Starbucks

There are a variety of hot drinks on the Starbucks menu that athletes can enjoy to help them with meeting their protein needs.

High-Protein Hot Drinks at Starbucks: Coffees and Cappuccinos

Athletes that enjoy a hot cup of coffee can consider ordering the following drinks that contain protein the next time they visit Starbucks.

Starbucks High Protein Hot Drinks

Caffè Latte

The Starbucks Caffè Latte features a blend of espresso and steamed milk, topped with a layer of milk foam. The Caffè Latte contains no added sweeteners or flavorings.

Caffè Latte with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 10 g protein
  • Grande: 13 g protein
  • Venti: 16 g protein

Starbucks Flavored Lattes

Starbucks offers a variety of flavored lattes, such as the Pistachio Latte, Caramel Brulée Latte, and the Cinnamon Dolce Latte. A grande size latte of each of these flavors provides 12 grams of protein.

These lattes include flavored sauces as well as signature toppings, such as salted brown-butter, caramel brulée, or whipped cream. Athletes can order the drink with a reduced number of flavored sauce pumps and light (or no) topping for a healthier drink option.


Cappuccino

The Starbucks Cappuccino with nonfat milk contains slightly less protein than some of the other hot coffee drinks. However, it is still a good option for athletes looking to add protein to their diet.

Similar to the Caffè Latte, the Cappuccino contains no added sweeteners or flavorings.

Cappuccino with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 7 g protein
  • Grande: 9 g protein
  • Venti: 13 g protein

Caffè Mocha

The Starbucks Caffè Mocha includes espresso, bittersweet mocha sauce, and steamed milk. The hot drink is topped with sweetened whipped cream.

The added mocha sauce and whipped topping increases the sugar content of the drink compared to the caffè latte and cappuccino. However, for athletes that enjoy the chocolate mocha flavor, it is a protein-rich option.

Caffè Mocha with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 11 g protein
  • Grande: 14 g protein
  • Venti: 18 g protein

White Chocolate Mocha

Similar to the caffè mocha, the white chocolate mocha is a high-protein drink option at Starbucks. The drink includes white chocolate sauce, steamed milk, and a topping of sweetened whipped cream.

I would suggest athletes order the drink without the whipped topping for a healthier option. Athletes can also request fewer pumps of the white chocolate syrup be added to the beverage to help reduce the sugar content.

White Chocolate Mocha with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 11 g protein
  • Grande: 15 g protein
  • Venti: 19 g protein

High-Protein Hot Drinks at Starbucks: Hot Chocolate, Tea, and Steamed Milk

Athletes that are not coffee drinkers, can still enjoy a warm, protein-rich drink at Starbucks. Starbucks hot chocolate and steamed milk are both protein-rich options that athletes can order.

Starbucks Hot High Protein Non Coffee Drinks

Starbucks Hot Chocolate

The classic Starbucks hot chocolate can be a sweet way for athletes to add some protein to their day. The hot chocolate contains chocolate-flavored syrups and is topped with whipped cream and chocolate-flavored drizzle.

Given the drink is made with chocolate syrup and is topped with a chocolate drizzle, the hot chocolate does contain quite a bit of sugar. Thus, athletes can consider ordering the drink without the whipped topping and chocolate drizzle for a healthier option.

Hot Chocolate with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 10 g protein
  • Grande: 14 g protein
  • Venti: 17 g protein

Starbucks White Hot Chocolate

For a fun twist on the classic hot chocolate, Starbucks also offers a white hot chocolate. The drink is prepared with steamed milk, white chocolate sauce, and topped with whipped cream.

When made with nonfat milk, this is another protein-rich option that athletes can enjoy as part of a post-game snack or with a quick breakfast on-the-go. Similar to the classic hot chocolate, I would suggest ordering the drink without the whipped cream for a healthier option.

White Hot Chocolate with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 12 g protein
  • Grande: 15 g protein
  • Venti: 19 g protein

Starbucks Matcha Tea Latte

Athletes that prefer a hot tea beverage that provides protein can order the Matcha Tea Latte made with nonfat milk. Matcha is a type of green tea that contains a high content of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds (5).

The matcha green tea blend that Starbucks uses contains added sugar. Thus, when ordering the Matcha Tea Latte, athletes will notice it’s sweet flavor.

Matcha Tea Latte with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 10 g protein
  • Grande: 12 g protein
  • Venti: 16 g protein

Steamed Milk

A warm cup of steamed milk can be a great addition to breakfast at Starbucks. Consider enjoying the steamed milk along with the Starbucks’ Rolled & Steel-Cut Oatmeal. This can be a healthy breakfast option for athletes looking for a quick meal on-the-go.

Nonfat Steamed Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 10 g protein
  • Grande: 13 g protein
  • Venti: 17 g protein

Flavored Steamers

Starbucks also offers a variety of other steamed milks, including Pistachio Crème and Vanilla Crème. Similar to the plain steamed milk, the grande version of these Steamers provides 13 grams of protein.

Athletes can reduce the sugar content of the Steamers by requesting fewer pumps of the flavored syrup and a reduced amount of the topping be added to the drink.

High-Protein Cold Drinks at Starbucks

Similar to Starbucks hot drinks, there are a variety of cold drink options that athletes can order to add protein to their meal plan.

High-Protein Cold Drinks at Starbucks: Coffees and Espressos

Let’s take a look at the iced coffee and espresso-based drinks available at Starbucks that provide protein.

Starbucks High Protein Cold Drinks

Iced Caffè Latte

The Starbucks Caffè Latte includes a combination of espresso and milk, which is served over ice. The Iced Caffè Latte does not contain any added sweeteners or flavorings.

Iced Caffè Latte with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 6 g protein
  • Grande: 8 g protein
  • Venti: 12 g protein

Starbucks also offers a variety of flavored iced lattes, which provide protein as well. Athletes can order the flavored iced lattes with a reduced amount of sauces and toppings to create a healthier beverage option.


Iced Caramel Macchiato

The Iced Caramel Macchiato is a sweet, cold drink that provides protein at Starbucks. The drink includes espresso, vanilla-flavored syrup, and milk, served over ice and topped with caramel drizzle.

To reduce the sugar content of the drink athletes can order it with a reduced amount of vanilla syrup and skip the caramel drizzle topping.

Iced Caramel Macchiato with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 7 g protein
  • Grande: 10 g protein
  • Venti: 13 g protein

Iced Caffè Mocha and Iced White Chocolate Mocha

The iced mocha drinks at Starbucks also provide a good amount of protein when ordered with nonfat milk. The white chocolate version contains slightly more protein than the original Caffe Mocha.

For a healthier version, athletes can order the beverage with a reduced amount of the flavored chocolate sauce and sweetened whipped topping.

Iced Caffè Mocha with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 8 g protein
  • Grande: 10 g protein
  • Venti: 14 g protein

Iced White Chocolate Mocha with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 8 g protein
  • Grande: 11 g protein
  • Venti: 15 g protein

Iced Flat White

The Iced Flat White coffee at Starbucks features ristretto shots of expresso mixed with milk and served over ice.

Iced Flat White with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 6 g protein
  • Grande: 8 g protein
  • Venti: 12 g protein

High-Protein Cold Drinks at Starbucks: Iced Teas and Milk

Finally, let’s explore the non-coffee, cold drinks containing protein that Starbucks has available on the menu.

High Protein Cold Drinks at Starbucks

Iced Matcha Tea Latte

Athletes wanting a cold tea beverage containing protein can consider ordering the Iced Matcha Green Tea Latte made with nonfat milk.

Iced Matcha Tea Latte with Nonfat Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 7 g protein
  • Grande: 9 g protein
  • Venti: 13 g protein

Cold Milk

A glass of cold milk is a simple, protein-rich option that athletes can order at Starbucks. In addition to protein, milk provides 13 essential vitamins and minerals that are important for an athlete’s health.

Nonfat Cold Milk: Protein Content

  • Tall: 13 g protein
  • Grande: 17 g protein
  • Venti: 24 g protein

Following a workout, adding a glass of milk to a healthy snack can support athletes with meeting their recovery nutrition needs.


Koia® Protein Shakes at Starbucks

Starbucks has started offering Koia® Protein Shakes in cacao bean and vanilla bean flavors. The shakes provide 18 grams of protein and come ready-to-drink in 12 fl oz bottles.

The protein in the Koia® shakes comes from a blend of plant-based proteins, which is dairy and soy free. In addition to protein, the shakes contain a prebiotic fiber blend, providing 7 g of fiber per shake.

High-Protein Drinks at Starbucks for Athletes

You are now set with a variety of high-protein drink options that athletes can order at Starbucks. As a reminder, when ordering a drink at Starbucks, selecting either nonfat milk or soy milk is a simple way to increase the protein content of your beverage.

For additional high-protein ideas for athletes at restaurants check out my blog on high-protein options at Chili’s.

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About the Author

Mandy Tyler is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine.  Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation.