Does Fat Make You Fat? – The Starbucks Edition

Caramel Macchiato
Caramel Macchiato : Freshly steamed milk with vanilla-flavored syrup, marked with espresso and finished with caramel sauce.

While waiting in line at Starbucks for my morning injection of caffeine, I overheard the woman ahead of me in line order a tall non-fat caramel macchiatio with a rice crispie square.

Nothing out of the ordinary…pretty typical Starbucks order.

But it got me thinking…why did she order it “non-fat”?

  • Did she prefer steamed non-fat milk over steamed 2% or steamed whole milk?
  • Or, was she trying to cut back on fat and/or calories?

So I asked.

Her answer: It was the fat.

It was the 40 extra calories from fat that she would get if she ordered a tall 2% fat caramel macchiatio.

That’s when I started banging my head against the wall.

Why do people think that 40 calories of milk fat in their coffee is going to make them fat, but the caramel sauce and the rice crispie square won’t?

Her combined order:  non-fat Caramel Macchiato + Rice Crispie square contains:

  • 350 claories
  • 7 grams fat
  • 61 grams carb (34 g added sugar)
  • 10 grams protein

If she opts for the 2% milk:

  • 390 claories
  • 11 grams fat
  • 61 grams carb (34 g added sugar)
  • 10 grams protein

And where my new Starbuck’s friend sees 4 extra grams of milk fat, I see 61 grams of carbs – including 34 grams of added sugar.

And that’s why this is a crappy breakfast.

It’s not the 4 extra grams of fat and their 40 calories.

It’s the 61 grams of carbs and the 34 grams of added sugar that:

  1. drives up her blood sugar
  2. drives up her insulin production
  3. increases her appetite
  4. increases her cravings for carbs
  5. leads to insulin resistance
  6. which leads to type 2 diabetes
  7. and obesity and metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis and….


4 grams of milk fat in your tall non-fat caramel macchiato isn’t going to make or break your diet.

But 61 grams of carbs just might.