For many people the turning of the leaves doesn’t signify the gloomy end of summer—it’s a sign that spooky season is on the way and with it comes cozy sweaters, apple picking, cinnamon-scented candles and of course, the ever-popular Pumpkin Spice Latte.
The beloved autumnal hero is well-loved for a reason: it’s essentially a warm hug in a cup, or more technically speaking, a blend of sugar-and-spice syrup, whipped cream, and espresso all pulled together by expertly steamed milk.
What’s not to love, right? That’s why I was so excited when my editor asked me to replace my morning black coffee with a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Here’s exactly what went down when I drank a Pumpkin Spice Latte every morning for a week—and why I don’t think I’ll be having another one for the rest of pumpkin spice season.
I was honestly quite excited to embark on my weeklong Pumpkin Spice Latte binge.
I remember being so excited when pumpkin spice rolled out, especially in college, that I would swap my usual latte for a pumpkin spice one everyday until the holidays.
That said, as a former Starbucks barista I was already well-aware of the fact that a grande-sized PSL had nearly 400 calories and an eye-popping 50 grams of sugar so I always asked for it with just a quarter of the sweetness and no whipped cream.
For the purpose of this story I decided to go fully sweet though—and boy I forgot just how sweet that really is. I felt like I was drinking a liquid dessert and while it was a tasty treat, I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle it all week!
By the second day, I was still looking forward to a little liquid dessert in place of my morning coffee. I loved pumpkin spice before it became an Instagram sensation.
It really reminds me of those early back-to-school mornings when the air is crisp and the potential of the new year is sitting right on the horizon.
That said, after getting half way through my second latte, I felt more sluggish and gross than full of potential and excitement.
I was not looking forward to getting another Pumpkin Spice Latte today.
I actually switched from regular milk to oat milk today and asked for my drink to be made half sweet because I really didn’t want to feel tired and sluggish all day.
I honestly can’t believe I used to drink these everyday on my way to class. It’s like knocking back a warm milkshake!
By day four, I actually noticed that almost immediately after finishing my latte, I would get a pretty bad headache that would only go away after I drank a ton of water.
It was weird, because I usually get headaches when I don’t drink coffee and even though a pumpkin spice latte has a lot of extras, it still has two shots of espresso!
After doing a bit of research, I found that consuming high quantities of sugar in a short period of time can actually cause an intense increase in blood sugar, especially for anyone who eats low-carb, like I do.
It can also cause tiredness, difficulty focusing, and mood swings, all of which I had been experiencing but hadn’t fully made the connection that it could be my super-sugary drink.
By the last day, I had definitely noticed a change in my morning routine and overall productivity throughout the day.
It definitely didn’t help that I was getting intense sugar headaches but the slump in my afternoon mood and energy level was enough to put me off sugary coffee drinks for good.
While I still love the Starbucks pumpkin spice flavoring, I think I’ll stick to adding a few shakes of cinnamon into my morning drip coffee rather than going all-in with a full sized pumpkin spice latte.
They might not be so bad for people who are used to drinking a more sugar-heavy morning beverage or who consumes more sugar in general, but as someone who drinks black coffee and eats mainly low-carb and plant-based, I can’t exactly co-sign on the idea of what’s basically liquid dessert at breakfast time!