Posted in Diabetes

Dear Coffee, we may have to break up…just a little bit

I absolutely love coffee. It gives me the jolt that I need on days when I am feeling a little bit energy-less and helps me get through busy work days. However, drinking too much seems to cause elevated blood glucose levels for me, which has been an extremely disappointing discovery for me. And this is plain unflavored, black coffee with nothing in it, mind you. No milk, no cream, no sugars, no artificial sweeteners….NOTHING……a zero carb beverage.

At first, it wasn’t very obvious that black coffee did have an effect on me as it seemed like my pancreas still had the ability to handle it. However, as my type 1 diabetes honeymoon phase continues coming to a close, it has started to become quite obvious that on days where I drink more coffee, I run higher. And not only does it affect my blood glucose levels two hours after a meal, it seems to continue affecting my blood glucose levels throughout the rest of the day and/or night. It can either cause my blood sugars to slowly continue rising hours after my meal and many times causes me insulin resistant highs at my next meal that sometimes don’t come down until I stack insulin and crank up basal by a lot. It seems that either the caffeine or something in it causes my adrenals to go into overdrive, telling my liver to dump out sugar, which makes my basals and boluses not to work as well as they usually do.

Although this has been a depressing discovery, it has helped make sense of some situations in the past where I have had some unexplained highs. I remember one day I had a coffee maybe an hour and a half or so after I had lunch. Two hours after lunch, I was somewhere around the 130 range (and this is a lunch I have had many many times before with no issues). When I got home a couple of hours later, I decided to test before changing my insulin pump and my blood sugar was over 200 when I had not eaten any actual food or carbs in over 5 hours. 200!!! I had even gone for a one hour walk that day after having the coffee, which should have helped increase insulin sensitivity. This isn’t the only isolated case either. There have been other situations in the past where I have had highs that when I think back on, there was always coffee involved either during the meal or maybe I drank a bit too much coffee earlier in the day.

Not all my highs are related to coffee consumption, obviously. However, after studying my blood sugar trends for a while and comparing weeks where I have more caffeine vs less caffeine, I am pretty certain that coffee/caffeine is yet another variable that affects my blood glucose levels and is something I have to be very careful about from now on. My insulin dosages are definitely higher on weeks I have more caffeine. Some people say plain black coffee has no effect on their blood glucose levels and don’t have to worry about bolusing for it as it is a zero carb beverage, but for some of us it definitely does have an effect on our blood glucose levels. Just goes to show that everyone’s type 1 diabetes is different and everyone has to figure out what affects their diabetes.

I still don’t plan to break up entirely with coffee though as I just love it too much. I just have to be extremely careful from now on and can’t drown my sorrows in too much coffee (unless I want to gain a ton of weight from the extra insulin I would have to take to cover it). Thinking I may need to start looking into a coffee substitute that won’t cause blood glucose chaos. Hmmmm. Anybody else experience blood sugar spikes or rises with coffee or caffeine? Any coffee substitutes you have tried that you can recommend? Comment down below! ☺

Ah coffee, you feed my soul. Why must you be so evil to my blood glucose levels though?


Hi all! This blog is a space to share my journey and day-to-day experiences with managing diabetes. Please note, I am not a doctor or nutritionist, just a patient that lives with the condition.

2 thoughts on “Dear Coffee, we may have to break up…just a little bit

  1. You are exactly right, caffeine in coffee &/or tea effects everyone differently. I drink my coffee with heavy cream (so not many carbs compared to milk) and I have had to do a lot of trial and error in order to find out how much insulin to take for the caffeine spike. There’s not a lot of info out there about this phenomenon, and my doctor laughed in my face when I said coffee spikes me. You mentioned not wanting to gain weight from the insulin you use to cover coffee, honestly, I wouldn’t worry about that. If you do decide to take insulin to cover, it’s probably not much, and definitely not enough to cause weight gain. Don’t be afraid to test it out and bolus a few grams for a cup and see how your BG does. I, for example, bolus for 5g of carbs when I drink one cup. This could also be calculated based on what your fasting BG does after drinking a cup…how high does your BG go, and what amount do you need to cover? If you have the answers to that, you have your solution. But it’s diabetes, so it might not work all the time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the support!

      Yeah, still doing a lot of trial and error as some days it affects me more than others. Sigh, diabetes, lol. So many variables that affect bg levels. And yes, I haven’t found much info on it either when looking into it. Sorry to hear that your doctor laughed about it when you mentioned it. A lot of times I feel like they just don’t understand that literally everything can affect our blood sugar levels and everyone is different. What affects one person doesn’t affect the other and vice versa. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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