Does Coffee Spike Insulin? (Read to Discover)

Short answer: Excessive coffee consumption can cause a spike in your body’s insulin levels.

Regular intake of caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity. This means your cells don’t react to insulin the way they normally and previously did.

The hormone insulin is responsible for helping your body turn anything you ingest into energy.

When you have insulin spikes, your body doesn’t absorb sugar from your blood after your meal. When this happens, your body gets the signal to produce more insulin.

Caffeine doesn’t seem to have much effect on the blood sugar levels of healthy and young adults who consume up to 400 milligrams a day – the safe amount.

Some studies conclude that drinking coffee, either caffeinated or decaffeinated, may actually reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Researchers at Harvard published the result of their study stating that people who increased their coffee intake by over one cup in a day had an 11 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

While coffee tends to be good for prediabetes and healthy people, those already having type 2 diabetes may find it harder to keep their blood sugar in check while consuming it.

Keep reading to know more about how coffee affects your blood sugar and insulin levels.

Coffee and Prediabetes

Sugar being poured in a white ceramic container.
Sugar-a major cause of diabetes.

I have some good news if you’re a coffee lover and diagnosed with prediabetes: you can still keep coffee in your diet!

Prediabetes means you have high insulin levels in your body but not yet enough for you to be diagnosed as a diabetic. Let me warn you that being prediabetic should not be taken lightly.

It has been proven through numerous research that coffee tends to be very effective in lowering the risk of diabetes.

An example of this research is one published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. They found out that men and women who drank at least 6 cups of coffee a day had a 29% and 54% lower risk of developing diabetes than those who avoided coffee.

Drinking coffee may also help in preventing the development of type 2 diabetes. I have an in-depth post about this if you want to know more.

Researchers have also found that a bioactive compound present in coffee called cafestol helps in increasing insulin secretion and reduces fasting glucose levels in the body.

It’s equally important also to keep your coffee healthy in order to get the best out of it – drink it black. 

Black coffee is not only good for blood sugar, but it also works effectively for weight loss as it has only 5 calories in a cup.

Coffee can quickly lose its sugar and weight controlling benefits if it’s combined with sugar, creamer, whipped cream, or flavoring syrup.

Watch the video to know more about how coffee can affect the blood sugar levels in your body.

Is coffee good or bad for diabetes?

How Caffeine Affects the Insulin Levels of People with Type 2 Diabetes

It’s been observed that people with type 2 diabetes react differently to caffeine. It can increase the blood sugar and insulin levels of those who already have this disease.

One research observed people having type 2 diabetes who took a 250 milligram of a caffeine pill at breakfast and lunchtime. It’s about the same amount as consuming a couple of cups of coffee with each meal.

The result showed that their blood sugar level got almost 8% higher than on days when they didn’t consume caffeine.

This proves that caffeine can affect your body’s response towards insulin, the hormone that lets your cells absorb sugar to transform it into energy.

How Caffeine Affects Blood Sugar

When you have type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well. Your blood sugar levels tend to rise higher than normal after meals. Caffeine makes it even more difficult to bring it down to a normal level.

This causes the blood sugar levels to increase way too high.

Eventually, this can even increase your risk of diabetes complications like heart disease or even nerve damage.

Though researchers are still exploring how caffeine affects the insulin levels in our body, they’ve come up with the hypothesis that it may work this way because:

  • Caffeine increases levels of epinephrine or adrenaline. This hormone inhibits your cells from processing too much sugar. Also, it prevents your body from producing too much insulin.
  • A protein called adenosine is found to get blocked when you consume caffeine. This determines the amount of insulin your body produces and controls the response of your cells towards it.
  • Too much consumption of caffeine can keep you awake and may contribute to sleep disorders. Lack of proper sleep may also lower the insulin sensitivity of your body.

Real talk here: no food or supplement offers total protection against type 2 diabetes.

Exercise, weight loss, and consuming a nutrient-dense and balanced diet are the best ways to reduce your risk.

For a deeper dive into coffee and diabetes, you can check out my article right here.

Best Amount of Coffee for Preventing Diabetes

an above view of coffee

Though it’s been proven that coffee tends to be very effective in preventing diabetes, it should still be consumed in moderation as there lie caveats in consuming too much of it.

It was found in both the studies, Annals of Internal Medicine and Diabetes Care that the greatest risk reduction of diabetes was observed among the people who had at least 6 cups of coffee daily. 

Harvard School of Public Health also concludes that the benefits of having 3 to 5 cups of coffee in a day may reduce the risk of multiple chronic diseases.

However, it should be kept in mind that caffeine can have adverse effects too. Though it can enhance your focus and keep you alert, too much caffeine can lead to:

  • Anxiety
  • Jitters
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Increased heart rate

Mayo Clinic suggests limiting coffee intake to 4 cups a day. FDA too has set the limit of a maximum of 400 mg of caffeine daily for healthy adults.

You should also avoid caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime so that its effects may wear off before you sleep.

The following table summarizes the amount of coffee and the percentages by which it can help in reducing the risk of diabetes.

Regular and decaf coffeeReduced risk of diabetes
1 cup/day8%
2 cup/day 15%
3 cup/day 21%
4 cup/day 25%
5 cup/day 29%
6 cup/day 33%
How much can you reduce the risk of diabetes with each cup of coffee?

To Sum It All Up

How about a cup of joe?

As we all know by now, it’s been proven by several researchers that moderate coffee consumption can lower the risk of diabetes.

However, people with type 2 diabetes react differently to caffeine – their blood sugar levels tend to increase with the consumption of coffee. 

This happens because when you have type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t t process insulin as well as it should. 

Your blood sugar levels tend to rise higher than normal after meals. Caffeine makes it even more difficult to bring it down to a normal level which causes your sugar level to increase even more.

If you’re a coffeeholic and have type 2 diabetes, it’s better to consult your doctor about the amount of caffeine you can consume as researchers are still exploring how caffeine affects insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

There’s still a need for more studies to be conducted to come up with a concrete conclusion.

Though it’s been established that coffee tends to be very effective in preventing diabetes, it should still be consumed in moderation as there can be adverse effects in consuming too much of it.

That said, increasing the consumption of coffee in order to stave off diabetes does not guarantee you a perfect result.

But if you are a habitual coffee drinker, it may not hurt too. The more important thing is to reduce the amount of sugar or fat that you add to your coffee.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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