Coffee and Blood Sugar: Diabetes Questions and Answers

Q: Do you have any recommendations for coffee consumption? My morning coffee seems to make my blood sugar jump. Does coffee contain carbohydrates?

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A: Sounds like a case of your blood sugar “Jumping Due to Java.” Unless you’re dumping a great deal of milk or sugar into your coffee, what you’re seeing is most likely caused by the caffeine in the coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant — it causes the liver to release stored-up glucose into the bloodstream. The same thing can happen with other high-caffeine beverages such as regular (non-herbal) tea and some energy drinks. Foods that contain small amounts of caffeine but large amounts of sugar, such as cola and chocolate, also tend to cause a spike in blood sugar.

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There are a number of ways to deal with this. Switching to decaf (or a 50/50 caffeine/decaf mix) will lessen the effects on your blood sugar, as will consuming smaller amounts of coffee. However, if your basic survival hinges on that morning cup of full-leaded joe, you may be able to offset the temporary blood sugar rise with some physical activity such as household chores or a short walk. If you take rapid-acting insulin at mealtimes, talk with your healthcare team about the possibility of taking a small amount of insulin along with your coffee.

Want to learn more about managing after-meal blood sugar levels? Read “Strike the Spike II,” “Dealing With After-Meal Blood Sugar Spikes? Don’t Skip Breakfast,” “Managing Your Blood Glucose Ups and Downs” and “How to Lower Blood Sugar? Take a 10-Minute Walk After Meals, Study Says.”

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