Are sports drinks okay for people with diabetes?

Energy drinks and sports drinks carry all the woes of fruit juice with the added no-no of more sugars. They're basically lots of sugar and very low nutrition. If you're trying to stabilize blood sugar, steer clear of energy drinks and sports drinks. Go for water flavored with a spritz of citrus instead.
Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

Sports drinks can be useful for long periods of exercise or if the exercise unplanned. For people with diabetes, it is important to regularly check blood glucose before, during, and after exercise. Sports drinks or other forms of carbohydrate may be needed if blood glucose is less than 100 mg/dL before exercise. Research suggests keeping blood glucose between 180 and 180mg/dL for optimum performance. Sports drinks may not be as necessary for someone with Type 2 diabetes if they are not at risk for hypoglycemia (dependent on their medication). In this case, sports drinks may only prolong increased levels of blood glucose. Check with a doctor before beginning any exercise program.

While flavored sports drinks like Gatorade and PowerAde have been designed to replace electrolytes lost during exercise, these aren’t necessarily the best choice for hydration maintenance for people with diabetes (or for people watching their weight), since they are often loaded with sugar and calories. Unless you’re trying to combat hypoglycemia, those extra carbohydrates aren’t necessary and can even sabotage your weight control plan. Consuming a small amount of salt (for example, by taking salt tablets or eating a small amount of food) along with water during or after exercise is another option for electrolyte replacement and is probably the better choice for most people. You can also make your own sports drinks by adding a small amount of salt to low-calorie flavored fruit beverages and flavored waters.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.