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Beverage Options

By in Nutrition

Many drinks have a quicker effect on glucose levels than food.  This is because most drinks have simple carbohydrates and don’t include protein and fat.  So they digest immediately.  For this reason, it’s best to drink water in between meals.

Sugary drinks raise glucose levels immediately in a sharp spike.  Rapid-acting insulin, such as Novolog, Humalog and Apidra, don’t start working for 15 minutes and don’t peak for 60-90 minutes.  These drinks make it more difficult to keep glucose levels in the target range.

Drinks That Do Not Raise Glucose Levels

  • Water
  • Diet Soda
  • Propel water and other zero-calorie flavored water
  • Crystal Light
  • Sugar-free Kool-Aid
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Tea with sugar substitutes
  • Black coffee (hot or cold)
  • Coffee with sugar substitute


Drinks that Raise Glucose Levels Slowly







  • Glucerna (1 bottle – 16g carbs)
  • Pediasure (1 bottle – 33 carbs)
  • Protein drinks or shakes (5 – 25 carbs)


Drinks that Raise Glucose Levels Quickly

  • Regular soda (1 can — 45g carbs)
  • Juice – including 100% fruit juice with no added sugar (1 cup — 29g carbs)
  • Regular Kool-Aid (1 packet — 14g carbs)
  • Capri Sun (1 pouch — 17g carbs)
  • Hawaiian Punch (1 cup — 15g carbs)
  • Sweetened Lemonade (1 cup — 30g carbs)
  • Gatorade/Powerade (1 mini-bottle — 21g carbs)
  • Energy Drinks (ex. 1 can Red Bull — 28 carbs)
  • Sweet tea (1 cup — 25 carbs)
  • Designer Coffee (12 oz — 45g carbs)
  • Chocolate Milk (1 cup — 26g carbs)

However, if you do consume these drinks, it’s better to have them with a meal, and remember to give insulin before drinking.

Helpful Hints

  • For extra flavor, add lemon or lime juice to water or ice cubes
  • Read the nutrition label. If the beverage has calories, it has some form of sugar.
  • To make sure you get enough water, match every caffeinated beverage with water. (ex. If you drink a diet soda, drink a glass of water.)
  • Use Splenda, Equal, or Truvia as sugar substitutes.


Updated 2/17/19

This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.