Low-sugar drinks: 5 options that avoid glucose spikes

Low-sugar drinks: 5 options that avoid glucose spikes
  • Discover some tasty no and low-sugar drinks you can enjoy without spiking your glucose levels.
  • Understand how coffee can impact your glucose levels, even if you drink it without sugar or sweetened milks.
  • Learn which drinks to limit to maintain steady glucose levels.

Staying hydrated is key for your overall health and for maintaining steady glucose levels. However, many of the popular drinks people reach for contain a lot of sugar that can spike your glucose. This can lead to fluctuations in mood and energy (1), cravings (2), and impact sleep (3). 

Fortunately, you can enjoy a range of refreshing and flavourful drinks that have little or no sugar and are unlikely to spike your glucose. 

5 glucose-friendly drink options

1. Sparkling or plain water

We know you’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: drinking plain water is a great and accessible way to maintain hydration. Many people don’t drink enough water, and adults should aim for around three litres of water a day (4). You may need more depending on a number of factors, such as if you exercise or your environmental temperature is warm.

If you find regular H2O boring, plain sparkling water and seltzer are just as hydrating and might be more enjoyable to drink, especially with meals. 

If you forget to drink enough water, try setting alerts on your phone or make a habit of carrying around a refillable water bottle to drink from throughout the day. Start early so that you’re not trying to play catch up in the evening before bed, which can disrupt your sleep if you have to get up at night to use the bathroom. 

Try habit stacking by placing a large glass of water on your nightstand to drink soon after you wake up or keeping a bottle of water in your car cupholder to finish on your commute home. After a few weeks, these choices are likely to become long-term habits.

2. Flavour-infused plain or sparkling water

You can jazz up plain still or sparkling water with slices of orange, lemon, cucumber, or other fruits for a hint of natural flavour. Try adding sprigs of mint or rosemary, and have fun with the combination of fresh fruit and herbs to find flavours you enjoy. Sparkling water with slices of fresh ginger and lime make for a particularly zesty combination.

Invest in a water infusion pitcher or just add fruit and herbs to a large bottle of water to keep in the fridge overnight.

You can also infuse your plain water with powdered or liquid water enhancers on the market that contain little to no added sugar and aren’t likely to cause a spike. Popular hydration powders such as Pedialyte Powder Packs, or Pedialyte Electrolyte Water provide flavour and electrolytes for a tasty and hydrating option.

3. Zero-sugar carbonated beverages   

There are a number of carbonated beverages on the market that are made with little or no sugar and won’t cause a spike. Popular flavoured seltzers such as La Croix and Dash are made simply with carbonated water and natural flavours or fruit essence, which contain no sugar, calories, or non-nutritive sweeteners.

Many popular carbonated drink brands have their own zero-sugar versions, although these are often made with non-nutritive sweeteners and other ingredients and should be consumed in moderation. Despite being sugar-free, these non-nutritive sweeteners yield varying glucose responses in people. By using a continuous glucose monitor such as Lingo, you can monitor your individual response to beverages like these to find what works best for you. 

It’s important to note that these beverages are still not a replacement for plain water and shouldn’t be consumed in excess. 

4. Alcohol: Dry wines and plain liquor 

While alcoholic beverages aren’t hydrating (in fact, they do the opposite), you may still be looking to enjoy an alcoholic drink from time to time that won’t cause a spike. Although you may not avoid a spike entirely, we recommend a dry wine like pinot noir or brut sparkling or a mixed drink with a shot of pure liquor such as vodka or gin in plain seltzer with a slice of citrus for the lowest impact on your glucose levels. 

For optimal glucose control, it’s best to consume alcohol in moderation — alcohol interferes with your sleep (5), which can negatively impact your glucose (6). Plus, the more you drink, the more you lower your inhibitions, which may cause you to reach for sugar or carb-heavy snacks that can cause a spike. 

5. Hot or cold herbal teas 

Herbal teas (without added sugar) are an excellent way to enjoy flavourful beverages without spiking glucose levels. 

It’s easy to make herbal teas at home, and you can enjoy them hot or iced. Try to avoid adding sugar and sweetened milks, and be mindful when ordering tea beverages out (especially iced tea variations) that they aren’t made with added sugar or simple syrups. Many of these teas have a natural sweetness on their own. Chamomile, rooibos, hibiscus, and liquorice teas are all great options. 

A note on coffee

Drinking coffee is a morning ritual for many. The caffeine in coffee (and some caffeinated teas) may cause a glucose spike for some, and adding milk and sugar can exacerbate these spikes. However, over the long term, caffeinated black coffee has been shown to have favourable effects on glucose metabolism (7). 

Additionally, caffeine can have a diuretic effect, causing you to urinate more, and if consumed in excess may compromise your fluid balance. Dehydration can lead to greater glucose spikes and dips (8). 

If you’re a regular coffee drinker, try having a large glass of water before your cup of coffee and continue to drink water throughout the day. 

Drinks to avoid

Many popular drinks are high in sugar and can spike glucose levels. Some obvious culprits include fruit juice, sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages, alcoholic cocktails, and sweet wines.

When it comes to glucose regulation, sugar-free beverages are a better choice than beverages with added sugar, but it is best to monitor your own tolerance and drink them in moderation. Consuming too many non-nutritive sweeteners has been shown to affect the gut microbiome, which can negatively impact glucose levels (9). 

A good rule of thumb is to try to get at least half of your daily fluid requirements through water and the other half may be reached with more flavourful options like the ones outlined above.

Be sure to check the nutrition label of any beverage you buy at the store and watch out for added sugars. When dining out, be mindful of sugar-sweetened beverages like fizzy drinks, lemonade, sweet tea, and mixed cocktails. 

A final note from Lingo

Most of the time, water is the best choice to stay hydrated. However, supplementing plain water with some of the beverage choices above can help keep you hydrated while enjoying more flavourful options. We hope this list has provided some inspiration for drinks that aren’t boring and won't spike your glucose levels.

And remember, how your glucose levels respond is unique to you. Using a continuous glucose monitor like Lingo can help you work towards limiting glucose spikes without stopping you from enjoying your favourite drinks.

December 1, 2023


1. Breymeyer KL, Lampe JW, McGregor BA, Neuhouser ML. Subjective mood and energy levels of healthy weight and overweight/obese healthy adults on high-and low-glycemic load experimental diets. Appetite. 2016;107:253-9. Epub 2016/08/11. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.08.008. 

2. Chang KT, Lampe JW, Schwarz Y, Breymeyer KL, Noar KA, Song X, & Neuhouser ML. (2012b). Low glycemic load experimental diet more satiating than high glycemic load diet. Nutrition and Cancer, 64(5), 666–673. https://doi.org/10.1080/01635581.2012.676143 

3. Gangwisch JE, Hale L, St‐Onge M, Choi L, LeBlanc ES, Malaspina D, Opler M, Shadyab AH, Shikany JM, Snetselaar L, Zaslavsky O, & Lane DS. (2019). High glycemic index and glycemic load diets as risk factors for insomnia: analyses from the Women’s Health Initiative. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 111(2), 429–439. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqz275

4. Seal AD, Colburn AT, Johnson EC, Péronnet F, Jansen LT, Adams JD, Bardis CN, Guelinckx I, Perrier ET, Kavouras SA. Total water intake guidelines are sufficient for optimal hydration in United States adults. Eur J Nutr. 2023 Feb;62(1):221-226. doi: 10.1007/s00394-022-02972-2. Epub 2022 Aug 9. PMID: 35943601. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35943601/   

5. Ebrahim IO, Shapiro CM, Williams AJ, Fenwick PB. Alcohol and sleep I: effects on normal sleep. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2013 Apr;37(4):539-49. doi: 10.1111/acer.12006. Epub 2013 Jan 24. PMID: 23347102. 

6. Deng HB, Tam T, Zee BC, Chung RY, Su X, Jin L, et al. Short Sleep Duration Increases Metabolic Impact in Healthy Adults: A Population-Based Cohort Study. Sleep. 2017;40(10). Epub 2017/10/05. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsx130. PubMed PMID: 28977563.  

7. Reis CEG, Dórea JG, & da Costa THM (2018). Effects of coffee consumption on glucose metabolism: A systematic review of clinical trials. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine 9(3) 184-191. https//doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcme.2018.01.001

8. Roussel R, Fezeu L, Bouby N, Balkau B, Lantieri O, Alhenc–Gelas F, Marre M, & Bankir L. (2011). Low water intake and risk for new-onset hyperglycemia. Diabetes Care, 34(12), 2551–2554. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc11-0652 

9. Suez J, Korem T, Zeevi D, Zilberman-Schapira G, Thaiss CA, Maza O, Israeli D, Zmora N, Gilad S, Weinberger A, Kuperman Y, Harmelin A, Kolodkin‐Gal I, Shapiro H, Halpern Z, Segal E, & Elinav E. (2014). Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature, 514(7521), 181–186. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13793

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