Maybe you were up every other hour with your newborn, or you pulled an all-nighter for the company’s annual report. Or maybe you just spent the night tossing and turning for no good reason. Whatever the case, when your alarm goes off at 6 a.m., you need help or you’ll never make it through the day. Instinctively, you brew yourself a cup of coffee—nature’s perfect antidote to feeling like death warmed over. But it turns out, while it may give your system a jolt, it’s weighing pretty heavy on your long-term health.
A report in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a night of poor sleep followed by a morning cup of black coffee caused blood sugar levels to spike 50 percent in otherwise young and healthy study participants. One suspected reason: Caffeine may contribute to insulin resistance, says lead study author Harry Smith at the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise & Metabolism at the University of Bath in the UK.
“Caffeine has a negative impact on sensors in our muscles that help the muscle take glucose out of the blood, hence why we saw the elevated blood glucose in the coffee condition,” he explains.
Since high blood sugar is the first step toward diabetes and other heart issues, it’s best to avoid it. One solution, suggests Smith, is to drink your coffee after breakfast, rather than before, which can help negate some of the effects of caffeine on blood glucose control.
Another fix: “Physical activity is a great way to control blood glucose levels and it is entirely possible that some morning exercise could be enough to negate the effect of caffeine on blood sugar levels as well,” he says, also noting that moderate coffee consumption has been linked with other positive health effects so there’s no reason to ditch the java entirely, especially if you pull an all-nighter.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!