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If you’re a “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” person, you may wish to rethink that habit. Yet another study, this time from the British Journal of Nutrition, is warning coffee drinkers to enjoy that morning cup of Joe after breakfast.
And, while a protein-rich meal before AM coffee is the best scenario, researchers found that even a carb-heavy breakfast is better than none at all.
AM Coffee Destabilizes Blood Sugar
The problem is that drinking coffee first thing in the morning appears to have a negative effect on blood sugar for the rest of the day.
Lead researcher, Professor James Betts at the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism at the University of Bath describes the health risks this way:
Put simply, our blood sugar control is impaired when the first thing our bodies come into contact with is coffee especially after a night of disrupted sleep. We might improve this by eating first and then drinking coffee later if we feel we still feel need it. Knowing this can have important health benefits for us all. (1)
When the study participants drank coffee first thing upon arising, their blood glucose levels increased by about 50% after having a carb-heavy meal replacement beverage. Uncontrolled high blood glucose is a prime risk factor for the development of diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.
The good news is that when participants consumed the meal replacement first and then had coffee, the negative effect on glucose levels did not occur.
While the study only involved 29 participants, the research builds upon similar findings in previous studies. (2-4)
Lack of Sleep Enhances the Risks
Ironically, the sleep disruption that encourages negative effects on blood sugar control is exacerbated by the exact same habit…consuming coffee before breakfast!
Caffeine on an empty stomach in the morning short-circuits the body’s ability to produce adequate serotonin throughout the day.
This is the case even if collagen and healthy fats are added a la bulletproof coffee. Neither of these coffee enhancements contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which is the nutrient precursor for serotonin.
Inadequate serotonin, in turn, impairs melatonin production in the evening which encourages drowsiness and a good night’s sleep. (5)
In summary, coffee in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat does a double whammy on your health. It not only destabilizes your blood sugar but also has the potential to disrupt your sleep that night!
Breaking the Morning Coffee Habit
If you suspect that your serotonin levels are in the tank and you need a supplement to help get over the hump to better quality sleep, Mood Cure author Julia Ross recommends taking 500 mg of the amino acid L-tryptophan (vetted source) in the mid-afternoon and again before bed.
This regimen helps encourage natural melatonin production for a good night’s sleep. Waking refreshed makes it so much easier to change the habit of coffee first thing in the morning.
Once you’ve established the new routine of eating even a small breakfast before coffee, the groundwork is laid for the best scenario for stable and controlled blood sugar all day, every day.
Need a hot beverage first thing in the morning regardless? Try sipping this energizing coffee substitute or opt for a cup of roasted dandelion coffee instead.
(1) British Journal of Nutrition: Glucose control upon waking is unaffected by hourly sleep fragmentation during the night, but is impaired by morning caffeinated coffee
(2) An oral lipid challenge and acute intake of caffeinated coffee additively decrease glucose tolerance in healthy men
(3) Effects of coffee consumption on glucose metabolism: A systematic review of clinical trials
(4) Consumption of caffeinated coffee and a high carbohydrate meal affects postprandial metabolism of a subsequent oral glucose tolerance test in young, healthy males
(5) The Mood Cure by Julia Ross
Now I’m off coffee and I am on Dandy Blend instead, but I’ve noticed that mentally I’m not as sharp as I was on coffee. My mind doesn’t want to stay focused and my thoughts are much more all over the place! I wonder if because I stopped coffee, I should also stop the L-Theanine. The reason I’m glad to be off it now, though, is in case during possible shortages to come, I’d have to go through the withdrawal during a more precarious time which would add to the misery. I wanted to get it over with now and it was not pleasant. The DHLP seemed to help, but your comment about your grandfather makes me wish I’d used up the coffee in my cupboard by consuming it after the meal, first. Anyway, thanks for your information and help.
I have tried this for the few days, I seem to be having a better sleep. How much time between breakfast and coffee would you suggest
Sarah Pope MGA
My rule of thumb is about 30 minutes to an hour.
I trade off with Bulletproof Original ground coffee (just one/half T., 1/2 T. butter, 2 t. MCT, collagen and collagelatin, 1 1/4c. water) and add the same extras to the DandyLion tea. I also eat most of the time an apple w/almond butter or a melon shortly after. I just love the taste of both (the foam!), something hot, a relaxing treat to my morning. If I have more coffee grounds, I get heartburn later.
Thank you for this information. Have your investigations mentioned anything about the same result regarding caffeinated black tea? So this trend of intermittent fasting and drinking coffee during the fast is problematic for all diabetics and pre-diabetics – many of whom are trying to lose weight and get their blood glucose under control. Not helpful.
Thanks for taking an analytical look at this sharing your findings.
Sarah Pope MGA
Hi Candace, that is a good question. I haven’t seen any studies yet that look at black tea first thing in the morning before breakfast. My hunch is that it would be fine because tea is so much lower in caffeine and also tea contains the amino acid L-Theanine which significantly slows caffeine absorption.
Thank you for this. I’m going off coffe tomorrow morning and I’m going to take DLPA to help prevent headache. That recipe looks good and I also ordered some Dandy Blend. Thank you for the encouragement.
Sarah Pope MGA
Hi Nancy, another thought… my grandfather was a diabetic for almost 50 years (he smoked 3 packs of Camels per day and drank like a fish too until about his mid-50’s when he gave both of these habits up) and he still lived very healthily drinking coffee every morning. HOWEVER, he always drank it after a good breakfast of two eggs fried in butter and a piece of toast with butter. He lived to be 97 and died of old age. I think coffee can be consumed in moderation and if done very smartly … with timing after breakfast. However, I realize in some situations going cold turkey off of it is a good idea especially if there are weight issues involved and/or if blood sugar is out of control.