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!

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.

One good thing about low-calorie drinks and drink mixes is that they are available in several flavors. They may be a good alternative to regular lemonade, iced tea, fruit punch, etc. These drink mixes also usually 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 sugar added are also healthy drink choices. These drinks provide more calories and carbohydrates than the other recommended choices, but they also provide us with important vitamins and minerals. 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 and 80 calories.

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 4-6 ounces (not even a full cup!) 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: February 18, 2014

Articles from Diabetes Forecast® magazine:

Diabetes Forecast