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I can already hear the Internet Pitchforks being pulled out of their digital shedhouses. I mean, how dare I suggest that a coffee is somehow unhealthier than a burger, right?

Well, don’t start stabbing at me with your pitchforks yet. After all, I’ve yet to present my case. Let’s start with a Starbucks drink that most of us are familiar with: The Frappuccino.

Fussing over Frappuccinos

Let’s take a look at the Frappuccino from the menu, in the form of the delicious Grande-sized Mocha Frappuccino with Whipped Cream, because if it doesn’t come with whipped cream, we’re not living life.

Source: starbucks.com

Source: starbucks.com

There are a few key takeaways I’d like to highlight here:

  • Over 25% of calories from this drink is from fat. I repeat: More than one quarter of this drink is just fat! (140 out of 400 calories)
  • The 61g of sugars in this drink are all simple sugars, not complex carbohydrates. Your blood sugar will spike rapidly after consumption of this drink.
  • The protein is from whole milk used to make this drink, and is not a reliable protein source.

How McDonald’s Matches Up

So lets compare this against one of McDonald’s stalwarts: The Fillet ‘O Fish Burger.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 2.34.43 pm

Source: mcdonalds.com

Up front, we can already see what nutritional advantages this has over the Frappuccino:

  • Less calories than the Frappuccino
  • More Protein
  • More nutritional variance with Iron and Calcium

Let me say this: Pound for Pound, the Fish Burger has a higher nutritional density than the Frappuccino. The drink is high sugar, high fat, and low in nutrients. It’s definitely not recommended, especially as a post-lunch drink!

Great Alternatives

Some of you might need a dose of coffee to keep yourself awake after lunch, or maybe you need a quick pick me up at 3pm. In that case, skip the Frappucino order and get a Venti-sized Iced Americano! Skip the sugar syrup, or just add a very small amount into it. You’re basically getting high caffeine input (two or more espresso shots) without the additional sugars that come with a Frappuccino.

But if you have that moment where you absolutely cannot skip that Frappuccino, then do your absolute best to reduce the fat and sugar you’ll take in. Make your order an Grande Espresso Frappuccino, soy milk, no whipped cream. You’ll get a low fat version of this drink that still tastes good.

So I should eat McDonald’s?

No. Don’t eat McDonald’s every day, obviously.

Instead, recognise that you need to examine the nutritional density when you eat, so even with two very bad choices, you can choose the better one. You should also make sure you’re always aware of all the possible configurations that your food can come in. Even skipping the french fries and replacing it with cup corn at McDonald’s can make a difference.

The bottom line is: If you make it a habit to hold calorie count and nutrient density to the same level of scrutiny, you’ll automatically make better choices every time you eat out. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing!