Are you an avid coffee drinker? If so, don’t worry. We’re not here to tell you to stop drinking your favorite brew. However, you may be taking swigs of caffeine during the wrong time of day.
Whether or not you drink coffee may not be as important as when you drink coffee. Research from a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that consuming coffee before breakfast and after a poor night’s sleep could negatively impact your blood glucose levels. In other words, you may be trading one problem for another: exhaustion for high blood sugar.
For the study, 29 healthy research participants were split into three groups: those who slept well and consumed hot water in the morning, those who slept poorly and consumed hot water in the morning, and those who slept poorly and consumed strong black coffee in the morning. After drinking either hot water or coffee, all participants ingested a dose of glucose and then had their glucose levels, mood, and appetite measured for two hours.
Interestingly, the research showed that one night of poor sleep was not enough to disrupt participants’ glucose tolerance and insulin response (as compared to subjects who had a full night’s sleep). Several studies have already shown that frequent sleep deprivation and broken sleep are associated with a higher risk for obesity-related metabolic diseases, so anyone who experiences the occasional sleepless night needn’t worry.
The research also showed, however, that one night of poor sleep combined with a strong cup of coffee before breakfast caused participants’ blood glucose levels to dramatically increase by 50 percent. In other words, consuming coffee first thing in the morning may limit one’s ability to tolerate sugar from breakfast foods.
The Science Behind Breakfast First
So, why should you be concerned about increased blood sugar levels after a cup of morning joe? Overtime, repeatedly using coffee to wake yourself up after a bad night’s sleep could cause bigger problems in your body.
For instance, caffeine inhibits adenosine, an organic compound that promotes sleep in the brain and serves as an energy source for cells. Impeding adenosine can make it more difficult for skeletal muscles to take in and use glucose, which leaves more glucose in the blood.
In addition, caffeine can decrease your insulin sensitivity by stimulating the release of adrenaline, which suppresses the action of insulin. The drug also increases the secretion of cortisol, a stress hormone that boosts the production of glucose and raises your blood sugar levels.
This effect gets compounded by a bad night’s sleep. Poor sleep causes your body to release cortisol as well, which further disrupts glucose metabolism and hinders your body’s ability to control blood sugar levels.
Raised glucose levels for one morning may not be enough to make you concerned. But overtime, high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, can cause changes that result in the hardening of blood vessels. This can lead to atherosclerosis, which causes fats, cholesterol, and other substances to build up on your artery walls and restrict blood flow. Hyperglycemia is also the leading indicator of diabetes.
Reduce Sugar Spikes by Eating Breakfast Before Coffee
Fortunately, you don’t have to give up coffee entirely to avoid high blood sugar. Filling up on food first will help prevent sugar spikes and regulate your body’s insulin levels. This is especially important if you are hyperglycemic or have type 2 diabetes.
Eating a full meal every morning may not be your style, but you can still put your body on the right track with a light breakfast. Even just a snack, such as a banana, a yogurt, or a piece of multigrain toast is better than nothing if you still plan on having a cup of coffee in the morning.
For a fast, easy, and healthy breakfast before your fresh mug of coffee, try these ideas:
- Overnight oats or microwave oats: To make overnight oats, place oats in a bowl, cover with milk, and leave the mix in the fridge overnight. That’s it! You can also add chia seeds for an extra boost of nutrition. To make microwave oats, combine quick oats and water in a bowl, then microwave for 90 seconds. You can replace quick oats with flat rolled oats, but be sure to reduce the microwave power level to about 70 percent and increase the cooking time to three minutes. Check your oats frequently while they’re cooking to prevent spillage!
- Mini frittatas: Make these flavorful breakfast bites in advance for a delicious and quick morning treat. Combine six eggs with 1/3 cup of cream and your favorite chopped veggies. Pour the mixture into muffin pans and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, and you’re done. These frittatas can be frozen for up to a month if need be. Simply toss them in the microwave to reheat.
- Tropical smoothie: If you’re not great on food prep, smoothies are an excellent way to get a quick and very healthy meal in before your morning coffee. Combine coconut water, frozen mango chunks, a handful of spinach, and chia seeds in a blender. Blend until smooth and drink to your heart’s content! This smoothie has an added bonus: it’s great for combatting inflammation and bloating.