Latte and Croissant Deconstructed

Keeping a good relationship with food is key to a healthy lifestyle. Thinking of what (and how much of it) is in each thing you eat will help you make better nutrition decisions. Now, not everyone has the time to think about these things while eating. The posts in this series will help you gain that ballpark knowledge of everyday items we have. If you like this analysis, please feel free to request more items.

Today we’ll look at the question: Which one has more calories? A standard 12oz latte or a traditional croissant. I will answer this shortly, and you might end up surprised.

Let’s begin with the easiest to decompose, the latte.

Latte Macchiato

12oz Latte Macchiato192.
8oz Whole Milk (1 cup)148.8411.717.697.9377.5%
4oz espresso (double shot)10.661.980.140.215.5%
2 tsp sugar32.518.40016.9%
Decomposition of a latte Macchiato

As you can see, the bulk of the calories are in the milk. I used standard whole milk, but more premium brands can range from 160 to 210 calories per cup. 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 with 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

16 Butter Croissants261.2 (each)
370g all-purpose flour1346.8282.3538.223.6332.2%
125g bread flour451.2590.6614.982.0810.79%
55g Sugar212.8554.99005.09%
7g Instant Yeast22.752.892.830.530.5%
60ml Whole Milk37.622.961.9420.9%
284g Unsalted Butter2036.280.172.41230.3548.72%
1 egg (for the egg wash)71.50.366.284.761.71%
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.


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.

Weight Management Analysis

Would these two items make a nutritious everyday breakfast? If we add up the energy that these items bring, you can think this is a good option. I target my breakfasts to be in the ballpark of 500 calories. Do I recommend having it every day? By looking into what’s in it, we can observe that they have a high content of highly processed simple carbohydrates and simple sugars. While these calories will help you energy-wise, they might cause an insulin spike in your system that will make you feel hungry a few hours after having it. Not to mention the stripped-off micronutrients. With all of this, I would not recommend a daily intake for weight management reasons.

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