The pursuit of low-carb drink treats is endless. But it's worthwhile.
Simply getting the sugar out of your beverages can easily cut 100 or even 200 grams of carbs from your diet! Juice. Soda. Coffee. Cow’s milk. Cocktails. Iced tea. You name it, there's (more than likely) a ton of added sugar and carbs in that drink. But what about all those drinks chock-full of fake sweeteners? Even those plant-based sweeteners are going to impact your sweet-tooth and overall cravings, even though they don’t impact your blood sugar.
I cut out all fake sweeteners from my diet after my 2nd child was born. 😱
For me, it’s either real sugar, or none at all. Why? I don’t want to be chugging even a stevia-sweetened soda that, while it may be no-carb, no-sugar, is full of other chemical junk. Just because it doesn’t raise my blood sugar doesn’t mean it’s good for me, especially on a daily basis. Also, consuming fake sugars (even the plant-based “healthy” ones) just left me feeling unsatisfied and craving more sugar! If I’m going to drink my sugar, I’m going to make it myself, count my carbs, and take my insulin. 💉 Otherwise, I'm all about the no-carb, sugar-free drinks, without artificial sweeteners. And not very many of those exist. 🙄 But some do! And for all the others that don't, you can get creative. Just take a look below at what I've come up with!
Here are my top-five-fave sugar-free drinks (without the artificial sweeteners!). 🥤
1. Club soda (seltzer) with flavored liquor, instead of rum & coke Last time I ordered one of these at a bar, I had to ask a friend to try it. It tasted so sweet to me that I was sure there was Sprite in it by accident! My friend squinched her face after a sip - to her taste buds, it was so bitter and it so clearly didn’t contain any sugar! Order a “club soda with blueberry Stoli,” and you can consider that a zero-carb beverage. It’s a little tricky to find out the real nutrition profile on flavored liquors, but my Google searches 🧐 have found that the majority of flavored rum and vodka are extremely low-carb.
The Flaw: If you’re choosing flavored brands like Stoli, Absolut, or Bacardi, etc., for your concoctions and you’re drinking them as an occasional treat in careful moderation, they really shouldn’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar. These drinks, though, are not something any of us need to be drinking regularly, but rather save for a night out on the town. It’s delicious and won’t bend your blood sugar!
💡 It's extremely important to note: when consumed in large quantities, alcohol can cause severe low blood sugars hours later (while you’re sleeping), so be smart and switch to straight club soda when you’ve already had 2 or 3 servings of alcohol.
2. Fruit seltzer with apple cider vinegar, instead of soda or alcohol I started mixing these two things together while looking to get the benefits of probiotics without having to buy (expensive!) kombucha or worry about its fermented (or not) sugar. Bring on the apple cider vinegar. 🙏 Apple cider vinegar contains zero sugar, just like seltzer. If you get the raw, unfiltered versions, you’ll get some great probiotics, too! Mix a small serving (2 to 3 tablespoons) with some ice-cold seltzer in a tall glass, and voila. You've got yourself a lightly fizzed, ever-so-slightly sweetened peach of a drink! If you’re used to a sweetened beverage, this will taste a little bitter at first, so give your taste buds a chance to let go of those sugar cravings. 😉
The Flaw: If you have stomach ulcers, drinking vinegar isn’t a good idea. And, in general, no one should be consuming apple cider vinegar all day long because it's so acidic. Too much of a good thing! One serving of this combo a day is plenty -- think of it like your evening glass of champagne without the calories or carbs! 🥂
3. Fruit-based tea mixed with seltzer, instead of sweet tea Soak a few bags of fruit-flavored, herbal tea in a big pitcher of hot water. Let it brew for a while (roughly 20 minutes), then mix it with ice-cold seltzer! There’s a small amount of cornstarch in some fruit-based herbal teas, but nothing that would actually impact your blood sugar. You get lots of flavor and bubbles, without any of the calories, carbs, or fake sweeteners. I’ve used a Lemon Ginger tea bag for this -- it’s delicious and great for your digestion.
The Flaw: I really can’t think of one! Just make sure that your tea choices are caffeine-free so you’re not chugging caffeine all day long. 😂
4. Black coffee, instead of coffee with anything added If you’re still hooked on coffee with sweetener, I’m here to tell you: transitioning to black coffee can be done! 💪 It’ll take a couple of weeks, but it is so worth it! Allowing your mouth to fully appreciate the flavor of plain coffee might just be the best thing that's ever happened! I promise, if my husband can make this transition, you can, too. He never thought he’d drink coffee without cream and sugar; now, he only takes his coffee black. I’m telling you, the flavor of real coffee tastes so much better than all that cream and sugar in your cup! #guaranteed 🤝
The Flaw: For some, coffee contains enough caffeine to signal a dump of glycogen from your liver, which can raise blood sugar. Personally, black coffee in the morning doesn’t impact my blood sugar. But black coffee in the afternoon does. 🤷♀️ So I simply don’t drink coffee past morning. Study your blood sugars closely around coffee to better understand if and how it raises your blood sugar.
5. Nut-based milk, instead of cow’s milk This one is a no-brainer. Unsweetened vanilla almond milk tastes delicious and contains tons of calcium. An 8 oz. serving contains around 35 calories and 2-3 grams of carbs depending on the brand. #winning
The Flaw: Unless you’re making it at home yourself, most nut milks come with an additive as a thickener. They’re all reasonably harmless but you should read about them. The primary thing to keep in mind is that some people, when consuming large quantities of almond milk, can experience a little digestive irritation. Personally, I’ve never experienced any negative side-effects, but I also only drink a serving or two of almond milk once a day; some days, none at all.