We often consider what we eat for our physical health, but what we drink can be a sneaky way of increasing calories and added sugars too!
Drinking our calories can increase blood sugar quickly when these options are not super balanced. Drinks often lack protein and fiber—two essential nutrients that slow down blood sugar spikes.
Focus on these simple habits when it comes to your drinks of choice, and you’ll find yourself improving your blood sugar in no time. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science.
Coffee alone may increase stress hormones in the body. Stress hormones can spike blood sugar as the body senses we suddenly need energy due to increased stress.
Without food to help downregulate this reaction, your blood sugar may continue to rise—even if you haven’t eaten anything yet!
Dietitian Kathryn Piper RDN LD NBC-HWC tells us, “The caffeine in your morning coffee is a stimulant and increases blood sugar. A healthy breakfast can delay how quickly caffeine is processed by your body. Drinking coffee after eating a balanced meal may result in better morning blood sugars.”
Eating a balanced breakfast first, followed by coffee if you enjoy it, allows your body to digest and absorb fuel from your food. Thus, not further stressing the body to produce its own fuel in the form of blood sugar.
Seek out hydration options that are lower in added sugars. Many companies have made an effort to reduce added sugars to their products after years of consumer demand for healthier options.
Some products use monk fruit, stevia, and Splenda to offer a sweet, refreshing taste without sugar. You might consider making your own hydrating options at home with added fruits, natural teas, and herbs.
Low sugar brands at many supermarkets include these 25 Healthy, Low-Sugar Soda Alternatives.
Patricia Kolesa MS, RDN advises that we check for added sugars in beverages. She states, “Added sugars will give quick energy but this can result in a quick crash. Aim for less than 25 grams from added sugar by choosing sparkling or flavored waters.”
High blood sugar is dehydrating! Registered Dietitian, Bri Bell, RDrecommends making a habit out of hydrating consistently throughout the day to help avoid impulse purchases of sugary beverages to quench your thirst.
She states, “You will be less likely to become dehydrated unexpectedly because you’re not going a long time between drinking fluids.”
Further, drinking enough water actually dilutes the blood sugar in your bloodstream and can naturally lower elevated glucose.
Aim for at least 64 ounces—eight, 8-ounce glasses—per day to stay hydrated. Consider adding more if you are active, sweat throughout the day, or spend more time outside.
Alcohol alone can actually cause low blood sugars if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes. However, the mixers in alcoholic beverages are the real culprits when it comes to spiking blood sugars.
Juice, soda, and tonics all typically have large amounts of added sugar. Choose lighter mixers like soda water, diet soda, or low sugar juice to prevent an increase of sugar from your beverages.
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, reminds folks with diabetes or blood sugar concerns to abstain from or limit alcoholic beverages if they take medication for their blood sugar. Alcohol does not mix well with Metformin or insulin and can drop your blood sugar too low. Enjoy a mocktail or flavored seltzer water instead.
If you’re going to drink your calories, consider creating a balanced option to stabilize blood sugars.
For example, a smoothie with protein, healthy fat, and fiber will stretch you much longer than a smoothie made primarily with carbohydrates.
We’ve got you covered with 8 smoothie recipes to manage blood sugar.
Caroline Thomason, RDN
Caroline is a women’s health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more