The relationship between caffeine and blood sugar is slightly unclear. In the past, we have written that coffee doesn’t negatively impact blood sugar health. But it impacts each person’s blood sugar differently. The Mayo Clinic recommends that people with blood sugar concerns monitor their blood sugar closely to learn whether coffee makes their levels rise or fall.
New research has found that caffeine may lead to lower body fat levels and prevent blood sugar concerns from developing. The research was published in BMJ Medicine. Other studies have also indicated that caffeine may aid blood sugar health. But, those older studies were observational. They couldn’t determine cause and effect.
In this study, researchers looked at the genetics of the participants. They looked at the impact of higher blood caffeine levels on body fat, the risk of developing blood sugar concerns, and heart diseases, including stroke, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and coronary artery disease. They looked at people’s genetic variants and found that people with a slower caffeine metabolism tended to drink less coffee but had higher levels of caffeine in their blood. People genetically disposed to a higher caffeine metabolism drank more of it. But it didn’t stay in their systems as long, didn’t impact their blood levels as much and didn’t affect their health the same way.
The people who were genetically predisposed to have high levels of blood caffeine levels had lower BMI and body fat and lower risk for developing blood sugar concerns. While caffeine has helped heart health in other studies, both genetic markers had the same outcomes for heart health.
The researcher found that the most significant difference was body weight. Caffeine appeared to drive weight loss much more in one group than the other, and that was the largest factor in the subjects’ blood sugar health risks. In fact, nearly half the benefits came from the weight loss benefits.
The study has critics. Dr. Stephen Lawrence, an associate clinical professor at the Univ. of Warwick called it “interesting” and “good science” but that randomizing via people’s genetics is a “relatively new technique.” He said it didn’t prove cause and effect. He also pointed out that caffeine isn’t healthy for everyone and can cause heart palpitations for some people.
“Should people drink more coffee to reduce fat or [blood sugar health]?” he said. “The science suggests relatively good evidence that consuming caffeine increases fat burning, even at rest. However, it does not constitute a treatment for obesity and, used wrongly, may result in weight gain or even harm.”
The researchers admitted that they haven’t “closed the case.” Instead, they wrote, “Randomized controlled trials are warranted to assess whether non-caloric caffeine-containing beverages might play a role in reducing the risk of obesity and [blood sugar concerns].”
Before changing your diet or drinking more coffee, you should talk to your doctor about your heart health and dietary needs. Caffeine is a stimulant and isn’t suitable for everyone. While it can be enjoyable or beneficial for some people, it can harm others. If you already drink coffee, you may already be helping your heart and blood sugar health. However, if you add sugary extras to it, you will most likely undo any benefits!