Read time: 5 minutes
- No beverage is totally off limits, but some have a bigger impact on your overall health.
- Discover some beverage options that can align with your health goals.
- Creativity wins. There are endless options to level up your beverages while keeping blood sugar in range.
Some people who choose to reduce their carb intake find it helpful to take a look at the beverages they’re consuming. Carb levels in drinks are often an afterthought, but keeping tabs on what you’re drinking and how much you’re drinking can impact your blood sugar in big ways.
The easy-to-acquire options such as soda, juice, and cocktails don’t always align with health goals. Did you know that both soda and orange juice have about 30 grams of carbs in just one 8 oz cup? While all foods and beverages can fit into a balanced approach to nutrition, especially if they’re paired with foods that pack a nutritional punch, it’s important to consider their overall impact.
“Avoiding or reducing beverages sweetened with sugar can reduce blood sugar spikes, support weight loss, and reduce risk for fatty liver disease and heart disease,” says Alexa Stelzer, registered dietitian, certified diabetes care and education specialist, and One Drop clinical health coach.
Our Top Five Lower-Carb Beverage Tips
1. Doctor up your water
Drop some fruit and/or herbs into your glass, pitcher, or water bottle. Sliced lemons and limes work as do cucumbers and strawberries. Try adding frozen fruit such as berries, sliced grapes, or even watermelon cubes. Sprigs of mint or basil enhance flavor as well, especially if you let it sit overnight. Ready to dial it up? Try a rose petal lavender recipe.
2. Mix up your mixer
Cocktails, specifically their mixers, can pack a punch on blood sugar levels. Opt for pairing club soda or seltzer with your liquor of choice, even flavored liquors.
It’s a little tricky to find out the real nutrition profile on flavored liquors, but many flavored rums and vodkas are lower in sugar.
Note: Alcohol can cause low blood sugar hours after you have finished drinking. Monitor your glucose and switch to straight club soda or water after a drink or two.
3. Look to the bone
Many point to coffee, tea, or hot water with lemon as warming options. Consider including bone or vegetable broth to the list. Rich in nutrients, you can buy it pre-made at most grocery stores or make your own. If you’re watching sodium intake, be sure to choose a low sodium option.
4. Level up your coffee
Speaking of coffee, get creative with your at-the-counter order or homemade version. Opt for unsweetened cold brew, Americanos, or drip coffee. Add extra flavor with cinnamon or vanilla extract. If you need a little sweetness, add a sprinkle of stevia or a little honey. A teaspoon of honey will add about 6 grams of carbs, but that’s still far less than the 30+ grams of carbs in a medium vanilla latte.
Note: Caffeine can raise blood pressure and, in some people, blood sugar. If you choose to consume products with caffeine, do so in moderation and try checking your numbers before and after caffeine intake to learn more about how your body responds. If your doctor or pharmacist has told you to avoid caffeine completely, it’s definitely best to choose uncaffeinated options.
5. Put on your milk mustache
Cow’s milk and dairy-free alternatives (e.g. almond, cashew, and soy) can be an option for when you’re craving something creamy yet simple. Both animal and plant-based milks often contain nourishing vitamins and minerals. Aim for unsweetened options and a colorful straw or a fun glass to fill up.
This article has been clinically reviewed by Lisa Graham, RN, CDCES, clinical health coach and director of clinical operations at One Drop.