Is Coffee Good or Not for Type 2’s?

By: Jolie Wiener

September 29, 2020

It’s International Coffee Day and getting a caffeine fix from coffee is a daily ritual for many of us. In fact, 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world every day! You may have heard having a cup of coffee or some caffeine can impact blood sugar. But how? And should those with Type 2 drink coffee regularly or not? For many years, health experts have studied the impact of caffeine in coffee on blood sugar levels. One thing to be aware of (while it might be obvious) is that not all coffee is the same. What one puts in their coffee can be a game-changer with how it impacts weight, metabolism, fat cells, and insulin. If one is adding lots of cream, milk, milk fat, and sugar to caffeinated coffee, it can be highly addictive and even contribute to weight gain, obesity and dramatic swings in blood sugar levels. So, is it possible to enjoy coffee in a healthy way? And how does it impact the body’s insulin response? Coffee is a source of natural caffeine, which can be fine when consumed in moderation without added milk fat, sugar, or carbohydrates. For a long time people have thought there is a link between coffee and Type 2. Several recent studies actually suggest those who are regular coffee drinkers have a significantly lower chance of developing Type 2. Yet, other studies show those with Type 2 have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels if they drink large amounts of coffee. What’s important here is to be mindful of how caffeine affects insulin and adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone. Of course, it all comes down to insulin when discussing blood sugar. A study published by the Journal Of Diabetes Care demonstrated the body’s insulin response to caffeine. One test group that consumed coffee had a decrease in insulin sensitivity by about 15%. They also found there was a 5x increase in adrenaline, and an increase in the body’s ability to burn fat. Because coffee causes a significant adrenaline spike, the body needs energy quickly, which is why blood sugar rises as a result of drinking coffee. Ever feel an energy spike after drinking coffee? The caffeine in coffee mobilizes fat and releases glucose so the body can burn it off fast. This can increase blood sugar, without an increase of insulin, so the body is forced to burn glucose. Coffee raises adrenaline, decreases insulin sensitivity and levels, triggers glucagon which turns on free fatty acid mobilization and the release of glucose. Other studies show caffeine triggers a temporary insulin resistance response. In general when insulin levels are high, it causes issues with weight. The key to remember here is caffeine causes temporary insulin resistance. Caffeine does not impact insulin, but it prevents insulin from binding to the receptors. When is the optimal time for Type 2’s to drink coffee? When insulin levels are at their lowest. As previously mentioned if caffeinated coffee is consumed when insulin levels are low, it can lead to a fat burning response from the body. Many experts recommend drinking coffee first thing in the morning, before or during a workout. Experts also strongly recommend those with Type 2 to not consume coffee with carbs. If someone with Type 2 has just eaten pasta, pizza or any high carb meal glucose levels are already elevated. Then, if coffee is consumed, it triggers adrenaline and causes the body to release even more glucose. Essentially making high blood sugar even higher. So, for those with Type 2, pay attention to what and when you're eating if caffeine is in the picture. Also remember everyone is different. For some caffeine may cause some to have less ability to control blood sugar, and others might benefit from the properties in coffee that can help control diabetes, but it is not caffeine. 1 cup a day of coffee can be a part of a healthy daily routine for those without sleep and digestion issues. But please, be careful to not throw in a bunch of sugar and creamer. Consider using unsweetened coconut or almond milk, and stevia as a sweetener. Then there is no added sugar or fat that puts those with Type 2 at risk of increasing weight or throwing off glucose levels. Last, there are alternatives like green tea or matcha green tea that are naturally caffeinated beverages that contain properties that may aid in weight management. All in all it’s important to be mindful of what we put into our bodies and what their implications are. So enjoy International Coffee Day and continue to stay informed on great ways to manage Type 2.

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