10 Low-Carb Beverages To Drink When You Have Diabetesby David Mendosa Patient Advocate
Just because you control your diabetes with a low-carb diet doesn’t mean that you don’t have lots of choices of great drinks. In fact, all of the treats here will fit your healthy lifestyle and still satisfy your taste buds.
Still water can be deeply satisfying
Water is so common that we take it for granted -- until we run out of it. Besides air, nothing is more necessary for life. But don’t settle for unfiltered tap water or waste money on bottles of it. A home filter removes impurities and greatly improves the taste by taking out the chlorine. Keeping a bottle of water in the fridge or adding ice cubes can give it some variety.
You can buy sparkling water at all the food stores, but you can make it sparkle at home without buying bottles or carting them home. For years I’ve added fizz to my water and to my life with a Sodastream CO2 carbonator. Even better is enhancing its flavor with zero carb SweetLeaf Water Drops or by simply adding a slice of lemon.
Coffee is controversial
Is drinking coffee bad for people with diabetes? Or does it help? Hundreds of studies seem to show one extreme or the other. But many experts now say that drinking one to three cups to day is either neutral or helpful. If you like it white, instead of adding milk or half & half (too many carbs), you can switch to a milk alternative (see slide 9). Instead of sugar, you can use carb-free stevia.
Tea is tempting
After water, more people drink tea than anything else. I’m one of them (along with my morning coffee), and I prefer some of the black teas that don’t need milk to bring out the flavor, especially those from the Assam and Darjeeling regions of India. Green tea from China with jasmine is another of my favorites. In fact, we have so many choices of tea that entire books are written about them.
Herbal tea is a misnomer
What we call herbal tea is actually a tisane of fruit or herbs that contains no Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. Whatever we call it, herbal tea offers even more choices than real tea. After sampling hundreds of them, the ones I like best are what Celestial Seasonings calls the zingers that include hibiscus. You too can take a few decades to explore these and the thousands of other herbal teas (just be careful to avoid teas that contain sugar for flavor).
Soft drinks can quench your thirst
Sugar-free soft drinks are available everywhere, but researchers have some questions about their usual ingredients, so moderation is the key here. But some soft drinks, like some of KeVita’s sparkling probiotic drinks, have just one 1 gram of carbs per cup and at the same time give you both great taste and live microorganisms that can help your health.
Restore your electrolyte balance
Anyone who does sweaty work or exercises needs to make sure to replenish the minerals lost at work or play. Those of us who have diabetes need to be especially careful to stay in electrolyte balance. A tasty and low-carb (3 grams per scoop) choice that I have used for years is the Ultima Replenisher. I add it to my canteen and drink it on almost every hike.
Because milk has 12 or 13 grams of carbs per cup, it doesn’t fit well into a low-carb diet. Fortunately, we have many plant-based alternatives. Among those that are plain and unsweetened, some have only 1 or 2 grams of carbs per cup, including almond milk, hemp milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, and soy milk. Your choice among these can depend on your taste preferences, their price, and availability.
When the weather warms, nothing seems to taste better than lemonade. But the sugar should stop us, unless we can get it made without carbs. With stevia we have a natural sweetener that is carb-free. With TrueLemon we have a handy source of lemons that we can always have in our pantry.
Cocoa for the cold
Nothing seems to satisfy us more than a cup of hot chocolate when we come in from the cold. But many of us think of it as a guilty indulgence. In fact, cocoa is very low-carb and is nothing to feel guilty about. It’s the sugar that is sinful. When winter comes, I make a cup of hot chocolate with a teaspoon of Cocoa Powder, filtered water, an alternative milk, stevia, vanilla, and cinnamon. Delicious!