Diabetes, Food

The Low Carb Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Behold The PSL

That’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, for those of you haven’t yet met the autumnal man or try to (wisely) stay far away from any mixed beverages on the Starbucks menu.

There are over 500,000 #pumpkinspicelatte posts on Instagram; news sources heralded the PSL’s earliest return ever this year; it has its own season (aka Fall).

But I’d never delved into this side of Fall. Because a tall (small) Pumpkin Spice Latte contains 40 grams of carbs. That’s 12 ounces of liquid that I can down in about 3 minutes that contain my entire day’s worth of carbohydrate consumption. 🤔

Nope, I’d rather save my carbs for the pizza. 🍕

Enter the Macro Barista Man

But my PSL celibacy came to an end when I came across @themacrobarista (IRL: Alex Moe).

This guy takes all those delicious-sounding, carbo-loaded Starbucks drinks and tells you how to order them (or even make them!) low carb.

So, on a brisk September morning I decided I’d try Alex’s version of the PSL. I was skeptical for sure - how in the world could he come up with a recipe that was both low carb and still worthy of the PSL title?

Because this dude knows a thing or two about coffee drinks (he’s a barista!) and low carb. All his posts take the most popular drinks on the menu (all of which are supremely high carb) and turn them into low carb, blood sugar-approved amazingness.

Here’s how he says to order a Pumpkin Spice Latte, plus the nutrition breakdown:

1️⃣ Ask for a TALL BLONDE Americano
2️⃣ Ask for it in a GRANDE CUP
3️⃣ Ask for ONE (1) pump of pumpkin sauce
4️⃣ Ask for THREE (3) pumps of sugar free vanilla
5️⃣ Ask for STEAMED ALMOND MILK
6️⃣ Ask for EXTRA pumpkin spice topping

Nutrition Facts: 

Pumpkin Sauce: .5g P/ 10g C
Almond Milk: 1g P/ 4g C/ 3g F
SF Vanilla: <1g C (this comes from maltodextrin, which the body treats like glucose)

Alternatively, you can also hand your Starbucks barista your phone with these order images from Alex's original post pulled up (images 2 & 3 in the post):

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But Does It Work?

Claims like a low carb Pumpkin Spice Latte alternative are great in theory, but rarely work for those of us with diabetes and our blood sugars. 

So you can imagine my delight when (based on the nutritional value given) I did only have to give myself 1U of Humalog and -- surprise! -- my blood sugars were golden hours later. 

I started at 123 mg/dL at 11:17am. I walked to my friendly Starbucks on Broadway and Bond in Manhattan and showed the (super friendly, ready, and willing) barista the order screen above.

I completely spaced and forgot to give myself any insulin (because I'm so used to my usual black coffee and cream order). Then, I headed to CVS to pick up my (coincidentally) insulin prescription while sipping on my latte. 

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Once back in the office, I dosed that 1U of fast-acting insulin. By 11:53am, I was sitting at a very steady 107 mg/dL. Then again, at 1:55pm (still sipping on my PSL with no lunch yet), I rocked a nice 137 mg/dL. This definitely passes my blood sugar approval test.

Not to mention how delicious it was! It was a chilly and gray day in the city, so the most quintessential time to enjoy my very first Pumpkin Spice Latte. I don’t exactly recommend ordering this daily -- I’ll stick to my coffee and cream -- but for a fall sweet treat, this is now my go-to.

Check out the rest of @macrobarista’s recipes! Let us know which ones you like best and how they work for your blood sugars.

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Mary Elizabeth Adams
Sep 09, 2019

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