Coffee and Blood Sugar: Diabetes Questions and Answers

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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?

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.”

Gary Scheiner, MS, CDCES

Gary Scheiner, MS, CDCES

Gary Scheiner, MS, CDCES on social media

The Owner and Clinical Director of Integrated Diabetes Services LLC, a private practice specializing in advanced education and glucose regulation for patients utilizing intensive insulin therapy. Scheiner, who has had Type 1 diabetes since 1985, was the AADE 2014 Diabetes Educator of the Year. He is the author of Think Like A Pancreas — A Practical Guide to Managing Diabetes With Insulin, Practical CGM, Diabetes-How To Help (A Guide to Caring for a Loved One With Diabetes), The Ultimate Guide to Accurate Carb Counting, and Until There Is A Cure.

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