What Happens If You Drink Too Many Pumpkin Spice Lattes

We are about to enter October. So, we can no longer deny it. Pumpkin spice latte season is truly upon us.

But how should we enjoy a pumpkin spice latte, nutritionally speaking? Mashed reached out to Serena Poon, celebrity chef, nutritionist, and Reiki master. "I would treat this beverage as you would a special dessert," she said. "This beverage offers more calories and sugar than a slice of pumpkin pie. If you're going to enjoy pumpkin spice lattes this season, my advice would be to drink them in moderation alongside a balanced diet full of fresh, wholesome foods." The issue with the drink is that a 16-ounce cup contains 50 grams of sugar and 400 calories. The recommended daily amount of sugar, Poon noted, is limited to 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men. With each drink, then, you have either gone over your healthy limit by half as much again or even double.

Poons did accept that there are healthy ingredients in the pumpkin spice part of the latte, such as the pumpkin purée in the pumpkin sauce and cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. However, these ingredients are not enough. "Honestly in this context, the benefits would likely be drowned out by the tremendous amount of sugar in this beverage," she explained. "If you love these flavors, I would recommend making your own low sugar pumpkin pie at home." It's less that the devil is in the details than sugar drowns anything possibly mitigating. 

This is a general issue with Starbucks

"Consistently consuming too much added sugar can lead to weight gain, inflammation, and the development of chronic disease," Serena Poon stated to explain why we should limit our pumpkin spice latte intake. However, despite the spotlight falling on the pumpkin spice latte, many of Starbucks' drinks can be charged with effectively being a dessert.

In 2014, HuffPost pointed out that the Chai Latte Starbucks serves has 15 grams more sugar than a Snickers bar. These sugar levels gain greater weight when we remember that Starbucks told The Guardian in 2016 that they were committed to reducing the sugar in drinks by 25% by the end of 2020.

Yet 2021 is winding down, and Serena Poon is still less than enthusiastic about Starbucks' offering. "I'd have to understand the measurements of these ingredients better to give you a more precise answer, but the sugar content almost certainly outweighs any benefits from the pumpkin purée in this beverage," she said. If you want to treat yourself to a pumpkin spice latte, no one will stop you, and many would probably follow suit. However, you would be better off treating it more as a special dessert than a coffee you pick up from a café.