Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can also impair blood sugar control.
Coffee in the morning is part of many people’s ritual to start the day, and it’s common to have a cup of strong, steaming black coffee on an empty stomach just after waking up. However, this is not necessarily good for the body, and can affect blood sugar levels, among other things.
In many cases, drinking coffee on an empty stomach can also replace breakfast, although it is easy to see that it does not provide energy and is not rich in important nutrients, so the body will run on empty until midday.
Effects of coffee on blood sugar when drunk on an empty stomach
Coffee may help you wake up and feel mentally fresh for a while, but opinions differ on the health effects of drinking coffee on an empty stomach.
It is well known that coffee should be consumed with caution for certain pre-existing conditions, as it has been observed to increase acid production, which can lead to stomach irritation. In the absence of food in the stomach, it can further damage its lining. It is particularly useful for people with reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers. It is perhaps less well known that people with carbohydrate metabolism disorders, insulin resistance and diabetes should also drink this popular beverage in moderation.
One point to consider is that caffeine can increase levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, produced by the adrenal cortex, which fluctuates during the course of each day, reaching its peak in the morning. Persistent high levels of this hormone can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. However, studies show that the cortisol response to caffeine is less significant in healthy men and women who regularly drink coffee in the morning.
A strong cup of coffee may be a good solution to overcome the feeling of drowsiness and lack of concentration after a bad night’s sleep; nevertheless, a 2020 study has shown that this habit has a negative impact on blood sugar levels. The 29 healthy men and women participating in the study were randomly assigned to three different experiments. In one, they had to drink a sugary drink after a normal night’s sleep; in another, they drank the same drink after a deliberate night’s rest interrupted by 5 minutes every hour; and in the third, they drank a cup of strong black coffee half an hour before the sugary drink after a similarly disturbed night.
The results showed that a single bad night did not significantly affect blood glucose levels and insulin response, but coffee before breakfast significantly increased the studied levels. The researchers suggest that blood glucose regulation is therefore disturbed when coffee is the first thing that hits an empty stomach in the morning. It is thought that the situation could be improved by drinking coffee after breakfast.
A growing body of research also suggests that people who have already been diagnosed with the disease react differently to caffeine, and that their blood sugar and insulin levels can be raised by coffee. Caffeine can impair insulin sensitivity, a key factor in blood sugar control. This means that cells respond less to the hormone, so they don’t take up as much glucose from the blood after eating. A study of people with type 2 diabetes showed that a more pronounced rise in blood glucose levels after meals can be expected with caffeine consumption.
Moderate coffee consumption is recommended for overall health, and it is not recommended as a substitute for breakfast. If it is inconceivable to start the day without it, it may be best to time it after the first meal of the day.