How and Why Coffee Raises Blood Sugar


Although understanding how caffeine affects your energy and blood sugar levels is crucial for managing your diabetes, caffeine may be necessary for your survival.

If you think of your morning cup of coffee as a magical swallow of happiness, you are not alone. 

What a wonderfully beautiful thing coffee is. It seems like we can’t begin our days without it for so many people around the world, but in moderation, isn’t that not that bad?

Coffee continues to have magical powers for those with diabetes however it can also be somewhat challenging.

Let’s examine why and how coffee might cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.

What kind of “energy” does coffee provide you?

We frequently attribute our morning vigour to the caffeine in coffee. We must feel alert and prepared for the day as a result of the caffeine passing through our veins, right?

Wrong. It doesn’t function like that!

There are three ways that caffeine provides you energy.

  • The first is to prevent your cells’ adenosine receptors (AR) from attaching to other molecules. Normally, when AR binds to your cells, it reduces your cells’ activity to aid in tasks like helping you fall asleep at night.  Caffeine really boosts cell activity by obstructing the usual interaction between AR and your cells.
  • Second, caffeine enhances the energising effects of serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine, which are all produced by your brain.
  • Finally, caffeine promotes the release of catecholamines, including adrenaline, in your body. And for this main reason, drinking a cup of coffee can considerably increase your blood sugar levels.

How can caffeine cause blood sugar levels to rise?

The “fight or flight” hormone known as adrenaline, which helps you survive stressful situations like a competitive sport, a vehicle accident, or even a rollercoaster ride, is released or produced by your brain when you consume caffeine. 

Your heart will beat more quickly, your muscles will contract more forcefully, and your liver will release some of its glucose reserves to provide you energy.

The previously-stored glucose is subsequently released into the bloodstream, but those with diabetes don’t make more insulin to go along with the increased glucose.

Thus, a simple cup of black coffee can easily cause your blood sugar to rise by 100 points.

What can you do in this regard?

Everybody’s diabetes is a little bit unique, as usual. A single cup of coffee might not cause a blood sugar surge, but two or three will undoubtedly do so. 

Or you might discover that consuming coffee in the morning does not cause a blood sugar surge, however consuming it in the afternoon does. 

Whether or not I also drink coffee, I already take one unit of insulin in the morning to offset the blood sugar rises caused by those annoying “dawn phenomenon” hormones.

I’m also aware that while my body can handle one cup of black coffee in the morning, more than that makes me feel jittery and causes my blood sugar to remain stubbornly high throughout morning. And last, if I drank coffee in the afternoon, it would probably cause a 100-point jump in my blood sugar.

Moderation in the Morning

What else is in your coffee, like sugar, milk, etc., affects how coffee affects your blood sugar.

If your blood sugar goes up in the morning, it may be hard to tell if it’s because of coffee or the hormones that come with dawn event. Either way, it means that your body needs more insulin in the morning.

You can figure out which one is making your blood sugar rise by not drinking coffee for one day (just one day, you can do it!) and seeing if your blood sugar still goes up. This would tell you that you need insulin for those morning hormones, even if you drink coffee.

Then add coffee back in and see if you need more insulin to cover the effects of the caffeine. 

It’s important to remember that decaf coffee has very little energy. So, most people won’t see their BG go up when they drink decaf coffee.

Most people with type 1 diabetes need more insulin in the morning than at other times of the day. This is not a bad thing, but it does mean that you need to take more insulin on purpose.

Consistency of caffeine

The best thing you can do when it comes to coffee and morning insulin is to stay the same. If you drink one cup of coffee on Monday and then four cups of coffee on Tuesday and Wednesday, it will be harder to control your blood sugar.

 The most important thing is to be consistent, and then you can make your own plan for how to use insulin to make that delicious cup of brew.

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