Skip the sugary drinks—and the inevitable blood sugar spike—and sip on these dietitian-approved low-sugar options instead.
a collage with the hot black coffee and the black cold brew
Credit: Courtesy of Brand

A trip to the Dunkin' drive-thru always feels like a delicious treat—especially since their menu is loaded with treats. Sugary donuts, pastries and lots of tasty drinks that (unfortunately) don't do much for balancing one's blood sugar levels. This can be especially challenging for anyone living with type 2 diabetes.

So what does one order at a place like Dunkin' when it feels like everything on the menu has added sugar as an ingredient? We spoke with diabetes educator Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCES, about the best low-sugar drinks for people with diabetes to order at Dunkin' so you can keep your blood sugar levels in check without having to stick to just the usual cup of black drip coffee.

1. Latte

"A latte is a nice in-between option as you can still get your coffee fix without the added sugar, and the Dunkin' latte offers some protein and fat to slow down blood sugar spikes," says Thomason. "For best blood sugars, order a small size."

A small latte at Dunkin' made with whole milk has only 9 grams of sugar, none of them added—meaning no sugary products were added to sweeten the drink. The sugar here comes naturally from the milk. And according to a 2019 review published in Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, even though milk does have some sugar, it can keep your blood sugar levels steady. The protein and fat in milk help to slow down digestion and reduce blood sugar spikes. Other studies, such as a 2018 study published in the Journal of Dairy Science, have shown the benefits of pairing milk with high-carbohydrate foods at breakfast time, so pairing a latte with your diabetes-friendly breakfast can help with those spikes even more so.

2. Americano

Want to elevate your usual order of black drip coffee? Thomason says ordering an Americano could be the perfect answer if you want to treat yourself to something outside your usual go-to.

"Americano coffee is a simple combination of espresso diluted with water," says Thomason. "An Americano often has a creamy element to its overall flavor profile, but it is quite low in calories and does not contain any sugar."

Dunkin's Americano contains two shots of their 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified espresso over hot water. If you're not one to drink your coffee black, you could always add in a splash of milk to give it that added protein and fat to keep those blood sugar levels low—and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

3. Unsweetened Iced Green Tea

"Opting for unsweetened iced green tea will help keep your blood sugar stable as this option has no added sugar," says Thomason. "You may even get an added benefit of some of the properties in green tea for diabetes management."

Along with being low in sugar, research has shown how green tea can actually benefit blood glucose levels. A 2022 study published in Current Developments in Nutrition found that participants who consumed gummy confections with green tea extract for 28 days saw a reduction in blood sugar levels, as well as improved gut health and lowered inflammation thanks to decreased gut permeability (aka "leaky gut"). Researchers concluded that green tea could benefit those with metabolic syndrome, which according to the National Institutes of Health, raises your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

4. Unsweetened Iced Tea with Blueberry

While Dunkin' does offer a large selection of refreshers—perfect for those warmer days—they tend to be higher in added sugars, making them a not-so-great choice for people with diabetes looking to manage their blood glucose levels. Thankfully, Dunkin' offers an option to add flavor to your unsweetened iced tea without adding any sugars, with choices such as Blueberry and Raspberry.

"If you are in the mood for something that is refreshing, but not coffee or hot tea, the flavored unsweetened iced teas are your best bet for blood sugar control," says Thomason. "With only 15 calories and zero grams of sugar, you can enjoy a fun flavored drink without the blood sugar roller coaster."

Choosing a Healthy Diabetes-Appropriate Drink

What to Look For

To keep blood sugars low when ordering at Dunkin', keep an eye on the sugar count of the drink. Added sugars can cause abrupt blood sugar spikes and crashes that people with diabetes will want to avoid. When ordering a drink, look for low-sugar or no-sugar drink options.

What to Include

According to Thomason, if you're looking to add something to your usual go-to coffee or tea, be sure to either choose a flavor that doesn't add sugar—like the unsweetened Raspberry or Blueberry flavors or unsweetened almond milk. Milk also provides added fat to the drink, which can help slow blood sugar spikes, so if you add in something to make your drink creamy, milk would be a wise choice.

What to Limit

Because a high intake of carbohydrates and added sugars can cause blood sugar spikes, it's important to limit the foods or drinks at Dunkin' that can cause this. Adding fat and protein helps decrease the severity of blood sugar spikes, so if you decide to have a drink with a bit more sugar than usual, pair it with protein and healthy fats. However, if you're just going for a Dunkin' drink, limit the drinks that are highest in sugar and carbohydrates and try to keep those numbers low to avoid spikes.

The Bottom Line

While it may seem like people with diabetes only have two options at a coffee chain like Dunkin' (black tea or coffee), this popular coffee chain does offer other options with zero added sugars that won't cause unwanted blood sugar spikes. Adding unsweetened flavors to tea can provide a pop of flavor, and splashes of milk provide an added boost of protein and fat; both help keep blood glucose steady as you start your day sipping on a tasty, refreshing drink.