What Can I Drink?

Food often takes center stage when it comes to diabetes. But don't forget that the beverages you drink can also have an effect on your weight and blood glucose!

We recommend choosing zero-calorie or very low-calorie drinks. This includes:

  • Water
  • Unsweetened teas
  • Coffee
  • Diet soda
  • Other low-calorie drinks and drink mixes

You can also try flavoring your water with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice for a light, refreshing drink with some flavor. All of these drinks provide minimal calories and carbohydrate.

What to Avoid

Avoid sugary drinks like regular soda, fruit punch, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sweet tea, and other sugary drinks. These will raise blood glucose and can provide several hundred calories in just one serving! See for yourself:

  • One 12-ounce can of regular soda has about 150 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrate. This is the same amount of carbohydrate in 10 teaspoons of sugar!
  • One cup of fruit punch and other sugary fruit drinks have about 100 calories (or more) and 30 grams of carbohydrate.

Tired of Water?

As you can see, you have many other options!

Mix it up by choosing unsweetened teas. Hot or cold - black, green, and herbal teas provide lots of variety. You could also try sparkling water or making your own infused water at home. To make infulsed water, simply put water in the fridge with cucumbers, strawberries or fresh mint for a refreshing low-calorie drink.

Most diet drinks (like diet soda or diet tea) have zero grams of carbohydrate per serving, so they will not raise blood glucose on their own. These diet drinks are sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners instead of added sugars. Removing the added sugars and replacing them with low-calorie sweeteners removes most of the calories and carbohydrates.

Other low-calorie drinks and drink mixes are available in several flavors. They may be a good alternative to regular lemonade, iced tea, fruit punch, etc. These drinks also use low-calorie sweeteners in place of sugar. They are very low in calories (about 5-10 calories per 8-ounce portion) and have less than 5 grams of carbohydrate per serving.

Milk and Juice

Low-fat milk and 100% juice with no added sugar are also options. These drinks provide more calories and carbohydrates than the other recommended choices, but they also contain important vitamins and minerals. In addition, milk is also a source of protein. Just remember to control portion size when you drink them, because the calories and carbohydrates can add up when you have too much.

Choose low-fat 1% or skim milk, and make sure that you count it in your meal plan. One cup of skim milk provides about 12 grams of carbohydrate, 80 calories, calcium, and vitamin D. If you are lactose intolerant or don’t like milk, you can try fortified soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk instead.

If you choose to drink juice, be sure the label says it is 100% juice with no sugar added. Juice provides a lot of carbohydrates in a small portion, so be sure to count it in your meal plan. Usually about 4 ounces or less of juice contains 15 grams of carbohydrate and 50 or more calories.

If you like to have juice in the morning but don’t want the carbohydrate from fruit juice, try low-sodium vegetable juice.  At just 50 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrate in 1 cup, it is a great alternative.

Additional Resources

You may also be interested in our information on Alcohol.

We also have a section on Low-Calorie Sweeteners.

  • Last Reviewed: August 2, 2013
  • Last Edited: June 23, 2014

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Diabetes Forecast