The Low Carb Jumpstart
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Iced tea with lemon

Staying Hydrated With Low-Carb Summertime Beverages

As summertime approaches, we look forward to the joys of outdoor activities and long daylight hours, but it also brings with it intense heat! This makes it especially important to stay well hydrated during all your summertime engagements.

If you have diabetes, you may already know about the importance of managing your blood sugars through your lifestyle choices. Food often takes center stage when it comes to blood sugar control, but beverages can also play a role in affecting your blood sugars.

Many common beverages like pop, juices, slushies, and energy drinks are packed with sugars, which can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. Water remains one of the best choices for hydration, but the good news is that there are also many other delicious zero-sugar or low-sugar alternatives that can help you quench your thirst and maintain stable blood sugars throughout the day. Here are some ideas for refreshing beverages to help you beat the summer heat and fully enjoy the season!

Sugar-Free/Low-Sugar Delights

Sparkling Water

If you miss the fizz of carbonated beverages, sparkling water might be a great compromise so you can still enjoy the bubbles without the added sugar. Some examples include AHA, Le Croix, Perrier, Poland Spring, Topo Chico, Waterloo, Bubly, and many others. Add slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or get fancy with a few sprigs of rosemary and mint to enhance the flavor. Experiment with different mixtures until you find your ideal summer sparkling beverage.

Fruit and Herb-Infused Water

Plain water can certainly get boring sometimes, so why not try sprucing it up with some flavor? By adding sliced fruit and/or herbs into your water, all the beautiful flavors infuse into the water without the added sugar or calories. Try experimenting with fruit and herb combos such as blackberry and mint, watermelon and basil, lavender and lemon, pineapple and lime, and cucumber and ginger.

Unsweetened Lemondade

Some might consider lemonade a quintessential summer time beverage. Most store bought varieties are laden with sugar but certain brands such as Minute Maid and Simply Juice offer sugar-free varieties that are a better choice. You might also consider making your own by combining just a few simple ingredients at home: freshly squeezed lemon juice and water! Add some ice and, if you’d like, a sugar-free sweetener such as stevia to your desired taste.

Black Tea, Green Tea, and Herbal Teas

Iced tea

Tea makes a great base for a refreshing beverage year-round, and you can switch from hot to cold depending on the season. To start with black tea, simply steep a few tea bags in a pot of boiled water and let it sit for a few minutes. Once at your desired concentration, serve immediately or make a batch and refrigerate to enjoy it cold for several days. Add a fun twist by infusing it with other flavorings such as sliced peaches and lemon, or fresh mint!

Green tea has been widely studied for its health benefits, particularly for its antioxidants that help to prevent cell damage and decrease inflammation. One study suggests there is an association between daily green tea consumption and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes [1], highlighting another reason we might want to add this to our list of beverages to try. To enjoy green tea, you can brew loose leaf tea in hot water or if you are interested in a richer flavor, try a different variety called matcha.

Herbal teas are another great way to enjoy a variety of teas made from herbs and spices, which often means they are caffeine-free. Some examples include turmeric, ginger, chamomile, rooibos, peppermint, hibiscus, lavender, and cinnamon. Each kind has a taste that’s unique to the ingredient so try experimenting with a few to see what you like best.

Water Flavor Enhancers

Crystal powder

If you are looking for an easy way to jazz up your water, you might consider trying a sugar-free flavor enhancer. A few examples include Mio, Crystal Lite and Stur. Not only do they come in a wide variety of flavors, but they also last a long time so it’s a budget-friendly option to add a touch of flavor to your water.

Diet Sodas

A 12 oz can of regular soda can contain up to 45 grams of carbohydrates (that’s more than 10 teaspoons of sugar!). On the positive side, however, diet/sugar-free sodas are available to scratch that itch when those cravings hit without causing your blood sugar to rise.

Sugar-Free Iced Coffee

For all the coffee lovers out there, swap out the sugary coffee drinks for an easy sugar-free version at home. To start, brew your favorite coffee and let it cool. Add a splash of whipping cream, or unsweetened plant milk, followed by a generous handful of ice. If you prefer, you can use a sugar substitute like stevia or monk fruit extract, or a sugar-free syrup to add a little sweetness. Optional hack: Try adding a splash of your favorite low carb protein shake to your iced coffee for an indulgent treat!

Drinks to Enjoy Mindfully


Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented beverage typically made from black or green tea. It is one of the many kinds of fermented foods, which refer to foods that have undergone fermentation, giving it a unique flavor and nutritional value. Fermented foods are often praised for their probiotic content, which can benefit gut health by promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

1 cup (8 fl oz) of kombucha typically contains about 7 g of carbs

Cononut Water

Coconut water

Coconut water is the clear liquid you find inside of a young coconut. In addition to its light and refreshing flavor, coconut water naturally contains some electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, so it can be enjoyed as a way to replenish some lost fluids and electrolytes after a day of activities.

1 cup (8 fl oz) of coconut water typically contains about 10 g carbs

Kefir or Buttermilk

You can think of kefir as being a drinkable yogurt. It’s a tart, tangy, and fermented milk beverage that contains active cultures or probiotics similar to kombucha. Similarly, buttermilk is also a cultured milk product that has a creamy and thick consistency. Both are high in protein which can help you feel satisfied and manage hunger. You can try blending it with berries or season with spices like cumin powder or coriander leaves for a unique and savory twist.

1 cup (8 fl oz) of a fruit smoothie typically contains about 15 g carbs


With all these cooling and delicious summer time beverages, you can enjoy the heat and quench your thirst! Try different flavors and combinations to find the ones that best suit your taste buds!

Practical Hydration Tips:

Carry a reusable water bottle

A reusable water bottle is a worthy investment for anyone who is looking to stay adequately hydrated and reduce their carbon footprint. Here’s a small tip to try out: keep your water bottle close at all times, like you do with your phone. This small intention can go a long way to help build a habit of keeping water nearby and serves as your visual cue to remind you to take sips.

Start your day with a glass of water

Starting a new day with a glass of water is not only a gentle way to wake up your digestive system, but it’s also an easy way to check the box and get a head start on your day’s hydration needs!

Pair water with meals and snacks

Meal and/or snack intervals are great opportunities to check-in with your hydration status. Build a routine of pairing your eating events with a glass of water so that there’s one less thing to think about during the day.

Consider setting phone reminders or use a tracking app

Setting a recurring phone reminder may be helpful for some people who have a tendency to forget to drink water in the midst of their busy lives. If you prefer, there are also phone apps like WaterMinder and Waterllama that can help you track your daily water intake.

Written by Dietetic Intern, Jingyi Tan, University of Michigan, School of Public Health. Reviewed and edited by MCT2D coordinating center team


[1] Nie, J., Yu, C., Guo, Y., Pei, P., Chen, L., Pang, Y., Du, H., Yang, L., Chen, Y., Yan, S., Chen, J., Chen, Z., Lv, J., & Li, L. (2021). Tea consumption and long-term risk of type 2 diabetes and diabetic complications: a cohort study of 0.5 million Chinese adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 114(1), 194–202.