Lately, I have been obsessed with deconstructing foods to understand their nutritional value. This obsession helps me bust the myths around various foods and keep better eating habits by understanding what I’m putting into my body.

My intention here is to start a series of posts where I will be taking you through various dishes, deconstructing them, and exploring options to transform them into something more natural, less processed or lower calorie-dense. Let’s get started.

First of all, let’s start with a question: Which has more calories a standard 12oz latte or a traditional croissant? I will answer this shortly, and you might end up surprised.

Let’s start with the easiest, the latte.

Latte Macchiato

ItemCaloriesCarbsProteinFat
12oz Latte Macchiato192.022.17.88.1
8oz Whole Milk148.8411.717.697.93
4oz espresso (double shot)10.661.980.140.21
2 tsp sugar32.518.400
Decomposition of a latte Macchiato

As you can see, the bulk of the calories are in the milk. I used as a reference standard whole milk, but more premium brands can move the value from 160 to 210 calories. I recommend whole milk as the best tasting and the less processed option of all dairy kinds of milk.

There are some conclusions we can draw:

  • Regular lattes are not keto.
  • Reducing the volume of coffee would significantly increase the calories by the increase in milk.
  • The added sugar does not add significantly more calories: 16% if you go for both tsp of sugar, 8% just one. These calories are by far offset by choice of milk the barista does.
  • If you increase the milk by 4 oz, to make it a “grande” size, using the Starbucks lingo, then it easily goes to over 300 calories. Even more for premium milk.
  • The ratios of the macronutrients do not respond either to a normal diet or to a sports diet.

I’ll come back to this drink in a little bit but now, let’s focus on the croissant.

Butter Croissants

ItemCaloriesCarbsProteinFat
16 Butter Croissants261.227.14.215.2
370g all-purpose flour1346.8282.3538.223.63
125g bread flour451.2590.6614.982.08
55g Sugar212.8554.9900
7g Instant Yeast22.752.892.830.53
60ml Whole Milk37.622.961.942
284g Unsalted Butter2036.280.172.41230.35
1 egg (for the egg wash)71.50.366.284.76
Decomposition of a Croissant

When I made this recipe, the yield was around 16 croissants plus some dough discard. I would dare to say that these croissants effectively are about 230 calories each. As you can see here, the calories come equally from the flour and the butter.

By looking at these numbers, here are some conclusions we can draw:

  • If we lower a bit the amount of butter, it won’t be as delicious, but there will be great savings in calories.
  • About half of the calories come from highly processed ingredients (Flours and refined sugars).
  • About half of the calories are empty calories.
  • The ratios of the macronutrients do not respond either to a normal diet or a sports diet.

Analysis

12 oz Latte from Bartavelle, in Berkeley

In combination, a 16 oz latte and a butter croissant make more than 25% of the standard 2000-calorie diet. This means that we certainly need to watch when and how we have these treats, as it can quickly escalate to weight gain. The main problem with having these is the enormous quantity of sugars and empty calories we’re getting, which by no means will satiate our hunger. The net effect, when eaten, will be a spike in your glucose levels and an increased level of appetite afterward.

While there are no simple tricks to make a croissant healthier other than sharing half with someone; you can make your latte healthier by following some of these tips:

  • Avoid sweeteners. Not for the calories, but they will contribute to the spikes in your glucose levels, making you feel hungry shortly after eating.
  • Replace whole milk with Oat Milk (110 cal per 8 oz) or Almond milk (70 cal per 8 oz).
  • Make it a cappuccino! This drink will take only 4 oz of milk, which is ideal for enjoyment and to cut calories by half without sacrificing texture or flavor.
  • Try to avoid having them together! Yeah, I know, not ideal, but if you enjoy these treats at different times, you’ll effectively make the experience less calorie-dense.

With this, I close my post. I hope this analysis has been eye-opening, and you’re now more informed when you’re getting your deserved coffee break. I hope I have not ruined your daily enjoyment. Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section below.