Coffee and Blood Sugar Issues?

By on December 17, 2012
Coffee and Blood Sugar

Coffee and Blood SugarMorning comes and the coffee pot announces it’s time to start the day. For some people, that fragrant aroma and distinctive flavor are pleasant enhancements to a good morning. For others, it’s a necessity.

Coffee plays a tremendous role in our culture. It is often the preferred breakfast beverage, right alongside breakfast, and it is often served with dessert. Sometimes it may even be the dessert or a snack when mixed with enough insulin-spiking sugar.

And while it’s obvious that drinking coffee loaded with sugar  is probably not the healthiest choice for those of you who are trying to keep your weight down, we’re not going to talk about those coffees. Today we’re going to talk about straight black coffee and its impact on your blood sugar.

Why This Narrowing of choices?

Chances are you’re eyeing your screen right now, wondering what the trick is. Why wouldn’t we be talking about all kinds of coffee, particularly in a conversation about coffee and blood sugar. Easy. You already know the answers.

You know very well that a cup of coffee with six packs of sugar, strawberry syrup, and chocolate sauce is bad for your blood sugar and will send those levels up, up, and up. But you’ve probably told yourself that a simple black cup of coffee won’t hurt anything.

Incorrect. For most people, even a basic cup of joe in the morning can be enough to set their blood sugar rising and set the day off to an unhealthy start.

Searching for An Answer

Coffee has made it into several prominent health and fitness magazines lately, all touting the value that a good cup can bring. You probably don’t need too much encouragement on that note. For thousands of people, a morning without coffee is like asking for a bad day.

Yet this apparent addiction does not concern most. After all, it’s only coffee. However, that is the wrong thing to say, and as you read on, remember that the recommended serving of straight coffee was no more than four cups in a day, excluding other caffeine sources.

Coffee contains many intriguing and potentially healthful components. But with the rise in diabetes, physicians and scientists have started searching for the answer and that includes asking “does coffee affect blood sugar?”

It’s Affect on You

The Journal of American Dietetic Association ran its own study on caffeine consumption, coffee, and blood sugar. The participants could have up to five cups of coffee or tea a day. At various points, the physicians tested the men’s blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, both marking points in determining risk of diabetes.

At an additional point, the physicians gave the men caffeine tablets that contained either a placebo or the equivalent of three cups of coffee. The charting demonstrated that the caffeine impaired both the men’s ability to process the sugar and raised blood sugar levels also reducing the body’s ability to handle insulin.

Not even the introduction of moderate intensity hour long cardio sessions five days a week was enough to offset this increase.

In additional studies and research at the Mayo Clinic, doctors have determined that the effects vary based on the individual. For instance, young, healthy adults who are fit and well do not struggle with blood sugar if the only caffeine they consume is coffee.

But caffeine can restrict the body’s ability to respond to insulin. Dr. Mario Collazo-Clavell, MD, suggests that 2 – 2 ½ cups of plain coffee will not have an effect in the blood sugar unless you have type 2 diabetes and cannot control your blood sugar.

Coffee’s Health Benefits

Bearing in mind that a cup is 8 ounces and not the size of your favorite mug, you should be aware that coffee can still bring about certain benefits such as protection against diabetes. The key is to enjoy coffee in small amounts and only in its basic form. That means black. No cream. No sugar.

In its pure form, straight coffee in small amounts can assist the body in its development of the sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which is beneficial in preventing diabetes. And scientists are trying to understand how plain coffee consumption can help prevent diabetes initially but then flip and worsen blood sugar rates after onset.

In an article at Science Daily, Dr. Simin Liu speculates that perhaps those with low SHBG levels are more susceptible to diabetes and the straight coffee, but once diabetes sets in, the preventative measures no longer work.

The secret to this benefit though is that the coffee must be caffeinated. Decaffenated coffee did not reveal any benefits in fighting diabetes in the Science Daily study.

Understanding the kinds of foods you can eat and the best balance therein can be tricky. In fact, it often seems that those foods we assume are healthy or good for us may not always be. Isabell de Los Rios reveals other foods that we think are healthy that either shouldn’t be eaten or eaten in certain moderation.



Miranda Hitti, “Caffeine Tied to Blood Sugar Problems” Web MD Health News, (2005).

Maria Collazo-Clavell, MD, “Does Caffeine Affect Blood Sugar,” Mayo Clinic, (2012).

“Why Coffee Protects Against Diabetes,” Science Daily, (2011).

Isabelle de Los Rios, “Five Foods You Should Never Eat,” Diet Solutions, (2012).


About JessicaBFry

Jessica B. Fry has had a passion for writing and health since she was a child. In college, she studied Writing and Pre-Law as a double major before she went on to Regent University to obtain her J.D. She now practices law and works as a freelance writer in rural Indiana where she enjoys being with beloved family, friends, and pets. In her spare time, she works on graphology, writes short stories, and practices knife throwing. She and her husband enjoy exploring Indiana and the surrounding states in their free time and hope to one day complete a trip through every single one.
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