Author Topic: Caffeine and insulin  (Read 4226 times)

Offline Steph

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Caffeine and insulin
« on: February 15, 2011, 10:04:34 AM »
I'm running into conflicting info out there about caffeine.  Any thoughts on whether or not it can spike insulin in non-diabetic people, or if it increases insulin resistance? 

Also, this may not be a topic of interest in this forum, but does caffeine strain the adrenals, as I keep reading?

I've been off coffee for a while, and I am starting to miss it.

(Todd, if you read this, do you think if caffeine affects insulin, the coconut oil you put in there mitigates the effect?  I'm not a nutritionist or scientist, so I hope you'll forgive me if this is a wacky question.)

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Caffeine and insulin
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2011, 11:30:01 AM »
Steph,

As is often the case, it depends on whether you are looking at short term or chronic effects.  Moderate or infrequent use of caffeine is not a problem and may actually be beneficial.  Caffeine acts by blocking adenosine receptors. Adenosine promotes sleep, so by blocking the receptors, wakefulness is induced.  Caffeine also blocks the breakdown of cAMP in the cells, allowing levels to build up, which reduces the clearance of epinephrine (adrenaline), allowing it to accumulate.  Finally, caffeine induces lipolysis (fat mobilizing) providing energy and weight loss.  All these effects are positive.

The problem comes with chronic, frequent use.  There is a tolerance effect, where the number of adenosine receptors increase and the amount of adenosine further increases.  So when you take a break from caffeine, you'll get especially tired and cranky.  This also leads to a decrease in sensitivity to epinephrine.

Finally, to answer your question about insulin and adrenal burnout:  Caffeine causes a temporary reduction in insulin sensitivity.  This is not a problem so long as you only use caffeine intermittently, and allow time for adenosine and epinephrine levels to renormalize between uses. And caffeine spikes may cause brief insulin spikes, but will not raise basal insulin or lead to longer term insulin resistance.  But if you use caffeine chronically and at high levels, then you may get a long term increase in insulin resistance.

My sense is that this may explain why lean (insulin sensitive) individuals retain high energy levels and don't gain weight from coffee, but caffeine can further impair insulin resistance (and increase appetite) in overweight individuals.

Personally, I gave up drinking coffee as a 3-cup-a-day habit several years ago.  I still drink decaf 2-3 times a week. (And I notice that it is definitely not caffeine-free, since I'm more sensitive to it's effects now!).  I occasionally have a regular coffee; when I travel internationally, it is an amazing way to break the jet lag.  But mostly I drink decaffeinated herbal teas.  

So I think that moderation is the way to go.  By doing this, you'll get all benefits, and avoid most of the negative side effects.

Regarding coconut oil...go for it!  In your decaf or tea, it supplies energy in a totally different way.  The MCT oil is easily transported through cell membranes into mitochondria -- including those in your brain.  It provides a sustained, even energy without tricking your hormones or neurotransmitters.  It is REAL energy.

Todd
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 12:28:47 PM by Todd Becker »

Offline Steph

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Re: Caffeine and insulin
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2011, 03:51:10 AM »
Thank you so much for taking the time to post this thorough reply.  I really appreciate it.

I broke down and started back on coffee a few days ago (mostly because I was having chocolate binges, and I think it was for the caffeine), but am working on keeping it in check.  I've also noticed, in the past, that decaf coffee isn't completely caffeine free.  Same with decaf green tea - in fact, when I give up coffee and switch to decaf green tea, I get no withdrawal symptoms, which is nice, but telling!

Offline UrsusMinor

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Re: Caffeine and insulin
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2011, 11:56:47 AM »
I don't think coffee is a big insulin problem for most coffee drinkers, as most of them tend to bunch their coffee consumption into a specific window of the day. (Yes, I do know some people who drink it all day long and on into the evening, but they are rare.)

But is still think that caffeine can be an insulin problem, as there are plenty of people who drink coffee in the morning and then graduate to soft drinks later in the day. And Red Bull in the evening...

Offline Jesse

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Re: Caffeine and insulin
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2011, 04:24:59 AM »
Coffee is not that big problem but it is one of the problems . Many people are si addicted that they are useless until they get there cup of coffee . Specially at the morning .