Drinking coffee before breakfast could have negative effect on blood glucose control, study suggests

'Put simply, our blood sugar control is impaired when the first thing our bodies come into contact with is coffee'

Put down your cups. Or at least, put them down until after breakfast.

New research from the Center for Nutrition, Exercise & Metabolism at the University of Bath has found that drinking coffee after your morning meal is better for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels after a night of poor sleep.

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A limited study showed drinking coffee before breakfast impaired blood sugar control. 

A limited study showed drinking coffee before breakfast impaired blood sugar control.  (iStock)

According to the scientists behind the research, which was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, drinking coffee as a way to wake up first thing in the morning can have a negative effect on blood glucose control.

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“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,” Professor James Betts, Co-Director of the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism at the University of Bath who oversaw the study, said, in the report.

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To conduct the study, 29 men and women were studied after three different overnight experiments. In them, the participants had one night of undisturbed sleep and then drank a sugary beverage first thing in the morning; one night of disturbed sleep – waking up every hour for five minutes, SciTech Daily reported – and then drinking a sugary drink in the morning; and a night of similar sleep disruption, but first drank black coffee 30 minutes before drinking the sugary drink.

Each of the men and women had their blood tested before and after ingesting anything.

According to the study, when participants drank coffee first, the blood glucose levels increased by about 50% after having the “breakfast” drink. However, when participants had the breakfast-meal replacement drink first, there did not appear to be a negative effect on the glucose levels or insulin responses.

Though, the study was limited and further research is needed into the effects of caffeine first-thing in the morning on the metabolism, the early findings suggest drinking coffee first could limit the body’s ability to process sugar immediately after.

“There is a lot more we need to learn about the effects of sleep on our metabolism, such as how much sleep disruption is necessary to impair our metabolism and what some of the longer-term implications of this are, as well as how exercise, for instance, could help to counter some of this,” lead researcher, Harry Smith from the Department for Health at Bath, said.

But, for all those morning “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my cup of coffee” people, you might want to revise to “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my piece of toast” – or whatever else people eat for breakfast. Maybe these tiny pancakes, that TikTok fell in love with during quarantine.

Speaking of quarantine throwbacks, maybe whipped coffee will make for a nice post-meal treat.

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