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Drinking coffee after breakfast could improve metabolism

Researchers say consumers’ sleeping habits may also play a role

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Photo (c) grandriver - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Bath explored what effect coffee can have on consumers’ metabolisms. To ensure that our metabolisms are operating at optimal levels, their findings suggest that it’s better for consumers to have their morning coffee after eating breakfast instead of having it immediately after waking up -- especially after a night of disrupted sleep. 

“We know that nearly half of us will wake in the morning and, before doing anything else, drink coffee -- intuitively the more tired we feel, the stronger the coffee,” said researcher James Betts. “This study is important and has far-reaching health implications as up until now we have had limited knowledge about what this is doing to our bodies, in particular for our metabolic and blood sugar control.”

Making the most of morning coffee

The researchers had 29 adults participate in three overnight scenarios in different orders. The experiments each night of the study tested how disrupted sleep held up against uninterrupted sleep, and then how consuming caffeine or sugar in the morning affected the participants’ bodily systems. 

After analyzing blood samples from the participants after each of the trials, the researchers learned that having coffee too soon after waking can affect the body’s blood sugar response. The study revealed that when study participants drank coffee first thing in the morning, their blood sugar response spiked by 50 percent compared to when they ate breakfast before having coffee. 

“Put simply, our blood sugar is impaired when the first thing our bodies come into contact with is coffee, especially after a night of disrupted sleep,” said Betts. “We might improve this by eating first and then drinking coffee later if we feel we still feel the need for it. Knowing this can have important health benefits for us all.” 

The researchers also found that the body’s blood sugar response was similar when the participants experienced disrupted sleep versus uninterrupted sleep; the caffeine was what had the biggest impact on the body’s metabolism. They recommend that consumers rearrange their morning routines to ensure that their blood sugar levels don’t spike after having coffee too early. 

“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,” said researcher Harry Smith. 

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