Sugary Drinks to Avoid if You Have Diabetes

Drink These Instead

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One of the first things I discuss with a new patient is his fluid intake. Adequate hydration is important for health. The total amount of water you need is dependent on several factors, such as climate and exercise. Having diabetes may also increase the amount of water you need to stay hydrated. The American Heart Association says, "Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles.

And, it helps the muscles work efficiently." But, if you are drinking beverages that are rich in calories and sugar, you can gain weight as well as increase your sugars.

If you have diabetes and have ever experienced a low blood sugar, you know that if you drink 4 oz of juice that your sugar rises within fifteen minutes. But, if your blood sugar is normal or slightly elevated, drinking sweetened beverages on top of this can cause blood sugars to rise at a rapid pace. If you have diabetes or are looking to lose weight, the first thing you should do is avoid ALL sweetened beverages. Treatment of hypoglycemia should be the only exception.

Sweetened beverages include: juice (even 100% all natural), soda, iced tea (sweetened), lemonade, powdery drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, flavored coffee with syrup. Reducing your intake can aid in weight loss and blood sugar control. It may also improve your energy levels.

So What Can You Drink? 

Water: Water should be your top beverage of choice. If you have a hard time drinking adequate amounts of water, try to spice up your water by adding fresh fruit - lemon, lime, berries, etc. Or package your water differently - purchase a special water bottle, drink from a straw.

Another good options is to take "shots" of water all day long. Use a small dixie cup and fill it throughout the day. 

Unsweetened Iced Tea: Brew a big picture of unsweetened iced tea and flavor it with freshly squeezed lemon. Keep a pitcher in the refrigerator or at room temperature. If you are worried about caffeine you can substitute for decaffeinated. 

Coffee: Studies have shown that moderate coffee consumption (around 4 cups per day) can contribute towards your water intake and does not cause dehydration. Be cautious, however, as to what you put in your coffee. Adding table sugar, sugary syrups, creamers and full fat milk can increase calories and sugar intake. Also, if you have a history of heart disease or high blood pressure you may need to watch your intake of caffeine and should discuss caffeine consumption with your health care provider or switch to decaf. 

Seltzer: Seltzer, aka, carbonated water can be a good option for those people who are ridding there diet of soda. Add lemon, lime or try a flavored option for some versatility.


Diet Beverages: Studies have been mixed as to whether or not people should be using low calorie sweetened or diet beverages as a part of a healthy meal plan. The American Diabetes Association says, “Use of nonnutritive sweeteners [LCS] has the potential to reduce overall calorie and carbohydrate intake if substituted for caloric sweeteners without compensation by intake of additional calories from other sources.” By reducing calories and carbohydrates you can lose weight and improve your blood sugars. Want to learn more about LCS? Read this: Should You Use Sugar Substitues, aka, Low Calorie Sweeteners? 

Alcohol: Wondering if you can drink alcohol. Learn everything you need to know here: A Guide to Safe Alcohol Consumption with Type 2 Diabetes 


American Heart Association. Staying Hydrated-Staying Healthy. Accessed on-line. February 28, 2015:

Killer SC, Blannin AK, Jeukendrup AE (2014) No Evidence of Dehydration with Moderate Daily Coffee Intake: A Counterbalanced Cross-Over Study in a Free-Living Population. PLoS ONE 9(1): e84154. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084154 Accessed on-line. February 28, 2015:

Evert A, Boucher J, et al. Nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes. Diabetes Care: 2013;36(11):3821-3842.

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