We're going to go ahead and say it: it's always iced coffee season. Whether you're a cold brew lover or a frozen coffee fan, go ahead and enjoy that cup all year round. And, you don't have to rely on fancy coffee shops for your morning Joe. Now, you can get your caffeine fix just about anywhere, including fast food and quick-service restaurants.
But here's the thing—not all iced coffees have the components of a healthy energy-boosting drink. Some are laced with so much sugar and fat from processed syrups and whipped cream that it actually slows you down in the long run—and we mean your metabolism.
Iced and frozen drinks from fast-food restaurants like Starbucks, McDonald's, and Dunkin' have nutritional values that vary wildly. Some are literally coffee plus ice and maybe a splash of milk while others are more akin to milkshakes with a splash of coffee. To help you sort out the best from the worst, we ranked 15 popular iced and frozen coffee drinks from fast-food restaurants, from worst to the best. While you're making healthier choices, be sure to stock up on The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Dunkin Donuts Frozen Coffee, Caramel Swirl
Per medium w/ cream: 860 calories, 31 g fat (17 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 220 mg sodium, 139 g carbs (0 g fiber, 132 g sugar), 8 g protein
"Any coffee drink with the word 'frozen' in the title will likely have significantly more calories and added sugar as they are essentially milkshakes," says Georgia Rounder, registered dietitian nutritionist. And this frozen drink is no exception. With 132 grams of sugar in a medium, this drink contains 4-5 times the recommended daily intake of sugar, if following AHA recommendations. Plus, it's the only drink in this roundup that has trans fat, which is bad for heart health.
"These types of coffee drinks should really be thought of more as 'treats' rather than coffee drinks regularly consumed in one's diet," says Rounder.
Starbucks Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino
Per grande w/ whole milk: 400 calories, 14 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 65 g carbs (0 g fiber, 64 g sugar), 4 g protein
When you order a Frappuccino, are you expecting a coffee drink or a coffee-flavored milkshake? This is hands-down one of the worst coffee drinks you can get at Starbucks.
Jamba Juice La Vida Mocha
Per medium, 22 oz: 420 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 90 g carbs (1 g fiber, 79 g sugar), 12 g protein
Other than protein, this coffee drink doesn't provide any true nutritional value. With nearly 80 grams of sugar, you'd be better off eating a candy bar. Order a fruit smoothie instead to dodge the artificial ingredients and get a few servings of fruit instead.
Krispy Kreme Frozen Mocha
Per 12 fl. oz: 330 calories, 11 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 52 g carbs (1 g fiber, 32 g sugar), 0 g protein
It's rather concerning that there is not even a full gram of protein in this drink when it supposedly comprises milk—which naturally contains protein. Taking a look at the ingredients, you'll notice that the drink is packed in artificial sweeteners and chemically modified ingredients. In this case, that includes artificial sweeteners and additives, such as carrageenan and corn syrup.
"Our bodies are not meant to digest and absorb these artificial ingredients, leading to potential digestive discomfort later in the day after drinking this beverage," says Rounder.
Burger King Café Caramel Frappe
Per medium: 400 calories, 10 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 270 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (1 g fiber, 58 g sugar), 9 g protein
Which would you rather have for 400 calories at Burger King: a medium café mocha frappe or a grilled chicken sandwich? Hint, if you choose the sandwich, you save over 40 grams of added sugar.
Tim Hortons Iced Mocha Latte
Per medium: 390 calories, 9 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 330 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (2 g fiber, 56 g sugar), 12 g protein
Espresso, chocolate milk, and chocolate syrup—this iced mocha is definitely a decadent drink. Not only is it a 390 calorie bomb, but it also adds 56 grams of added sugar and seven grams of saturated fat to your day. If you want to treat yourself (and yes, it should be occasional), skip the whipped cream.
"While it might not seem like much, whipped cream adds unnecessary calories, saturated fat, and sugar to an iced coffee drink," says Rounder.
RELATED: The easy guide to cutting back on sugar is finally here.
Au Bon Pain Iced Caramel Macchiato
Per 16 fl. oz: 270 calories, 8 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 135 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (0 g fiber, 40 g sugar), 8 g protein
On the surface, Au Bon Pain's iced caramel macchiato doesn't look too bad in terms of calories and protein. But a closer look at the nutritional profile and ingredients tells another story. Sure it has whole milk and espresso, but there are also preservatives like potassium sorbate and artificial flavors and syrups, including corn syrup, modified food starch, and caramel color. S
o if you're craving a cool coffee drink, there are better options for your cup of java.
Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino Blended Coffee
Per grande with 2% milk: 230 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 46 g carbs (0 g fiber, 45 g sugar), 3 g protein
The original frozen coffee drink, the Starbucks coffee Frappuccino is still a favorite. While a frap made with 2% milk has less fat than some of the other frozen beverages on the menu, there's still a ton of sugar in a 16-ounce serving (45 grams to be exact!) and less protein. Plus, with coffee listed as the last ingredient, it barely makes the cut as a coffee drink.
McDonald's Iced Caramel Latte
Per medium: 270 calories, 8 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 340 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (0 g fiber, 36 g sugar), 9 g protein
Aside from its Egg McMuffin, McDonald's McCafe is what brings more people through its drive-thru for breakfast. But its iced coffee creations can be a hit-or-miss nutritionally. This iced latte is sugary, thanks to the addition of sweetened condensed milk. Plus, it has one of the highest amounts of sodium of all of the drinks on our list.
Peet's Iced Vanilla Latte
Per medium with 2% milk: 220 calories, 3.5 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 trans fat), 90 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (0 g fiber, 35 g sugar), 7 g protein
For a seemingly straightforward iced vanilla latte, Peet's drink is packed in sugar. To reduce the amount of sugar, order a small with soy milk—you'll save 10 grams and avoid the bloat from the dairy.
Sonic Original Cold Brew Iced Coffee
Per medium: 260 calories, 13 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (0 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 5 g protein
Sonic offers more than just burgers and cherry limeades. For coffee lovers, there are a few iced concoctions to choose from. This drink is a bit high in calories and fat, but has less sugar than other options on this list. If you want to sip on one of these once in a while, go for the small-sized option!
RELATED: The easy guide to cutting back on sugar is finally here.
Panera Iced Caffe Latte
Per 20 fl. oz: 170 calories, 6 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (0 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 11 g protein
Who doesn't love the delicious creaminess of an iced latte? This Panera Bread version features freshly brewed espresso with foamed milk over ice. But the bigger portion of milk in this drink means higher calorie and fat content. Plus, it has more sodium than plain, iced coffee options.
Starbucks Iced Caffè Latte
Per grande: 130 calories, 4.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 115 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (0 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 8 g protein
This iced latte macchiato keeps things simple: espresso, milk, and ice. Rounder says regular milk is OK to have in here, too.
"It can be more beneficial in promoting satiety and satisfaction. The fat from regular milk helps keep blood sugar levels more stable," she says.
Krispy Kreme Iced Coffee
Per 12 fl. oz: 35 calories, 1 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein
If you're in the mood for an Original Glazed Donut from Krispy Kreme, if you're sipping on this plain iced coffee, go ahead and get the treat. Here, the chain's freshly brewed iced coffee blend is served over ice with a splash of 2% milk.
Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee
Per medium: 5 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 10 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein
This iced black coffee is so basic…which makes it a winner.
"Choosing coffee beverages without added sugar or milk keeps added calorie consumption significantly lower," says Rounder.