April 05, 2011
Junk Food Sugar Spike Worse With Coffee

Don't drink coffee when you eat a meal at a fast food joint. Or, better yet, don't eat junk food so that you can drink coffee.

Eating a fatty fast food meal is never good for you, but washing that meal down with a coffee is even worse, according to a new University of Guelph study.

Researcher Marie-Soleil Beaudoin has discovered not only that a healthy person's blood sugar levels spike after eating a high-fat meal, but that the spike doubles after having both a fatty meal and caffeinated coffee jumping to levels similar to those of people at risk for diabetes.

Saturated fat and caffeine interact to impair sugar removal from the blood?

"The results tell us that saturated fat interferes with the body's ability to clear sugars from the blood and, when combined with caffeinated coffee, the impact can be even worse," said Beaudoin, a PhD student who conducted the study with U of G professors Lindsay Robinson and Terry Graham. "Having sugar remain in our blood for long periods is unhealthy because it can take a toll on our body's organs."

Or even better: skip the coffee and the junk food and eat a paleo diet.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 April 05 11:53 PM  Aging Diet Metabolism

J. Stanton - gnolls.org said at April 6, 2011 1:45 AM:

Not that I disagree with your conclusion (as you can see from the articles on my website)...but the original article badly misrepresents the study in question.

Briefly, the study involves giving people a lump of fat (or not), giving them a coffee (decaffeinated or regular) 5 hours later, and measuring response to a blood glucose challenge an hour after that. Results: 6 hours after eating fat and 1 hour after drinking coffee, sugar was metabolized more quickly than it was 6 hours after doing nothing and 1 hour after drinking water.

First, this has absolutely nothing to do with whether you should drink coffee with a meal or not: the coffee was given 5 hours after the fat, and the glucose challenge 6 hours afterward!
Second, as any basic medical text will tell you, eating fat as part of a meal dramatically slows gastric emptying and absorption of nutrients...therefore DECREASING any blood sugar/insulin spike you would otherwise get from the carbohydrates in the meal.
Third, is anyone surprised that caffeine increases metabolism of everything, sugar included?

Finally, from the original study: "Glucagon-like peptide-1 active (GLP-1a) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) were both increased for up to 6 h in all OFTT trials (P less than 0.05)."

The article's implication is that this is a bad thing: the reality is that it's exactly the opposite.
* GLP-1 decreases food intake by increasing satiety.
* GLP-1 increases insulin sensitivity (loss of insulin sensitivity = type 2 diabetes).
* GLP-1 increases beta cell mass (loss of beta cells = diabetes).

In fact, GLP-1 is under investigation as a diabetes treatment drug!

So the summary of the study is: saturated fat is a good thing - because it increases GLP-1, decreasing your food intake and your risk of diabetes.


bbartlog said at April 6, 2011 5:33 AM:

As first commenter notes, both the article and your summary badly misrepresent this finding. I was astounded to hear that eating fat of any kind would result in high blood sugar, so of course I went to the source and... oh yeah, there's that SUGAR DRINK six hours later. Maybe the first step would be to not drink the SUGAR DRINK and then, well, I imagine JS is right and that the fat is actually helping you, but even if it's not, you've dealt with the main issue. I swear, some of these researchers will bend themselves into a pretzel to try to make fat look bad. Some sort of weird cryptopuritanical thing that infects American culture.

J. Stanton - gnolls.org said at April 6, 2011 11:06 AM:


There is a lot of money being made by manufacturing cheap industrial products out of heavily-subsidized grains - particularly corn, soy, and wheat - and selling them at a huge markup. Most breakfast cereals cost more per calorie than hamburger!

Therefore, there is a huge financial incentive for agribusiness and industrial food producers to push grain-based industrial products (seed oils, chips, crackers, breads, bars) as 'healthy' in order to maintain that markup - and because government subsidies result in massive overproduction, there is a huge financial incentive for government to encourage our consumption of these grain-based industrial products.

Since grains are low in fat, grain oils are low in saturated fat, and animal products are high in saturated fat, demonizing saturated fat has been a convenient way to shift our consumption away from healthy but low-margin animal products and towards unhealthy but high-margin grain products.


Fat Man said at April 6, 2011 9:26 PM:

I have been trying to explain to you that the four food groups are grease, sugar, salt, and caffeine. That is why a burger, fries and a coke are such a great meal. Don't you folks know anything about nutrition?

Tom said at April 7, 2011 7:46 AM:

My diet revolves around saturated fat, like meat, eggs, cream, and a few veggies. I feel great! At 56, I went on a 41 mile bike ride last week. Went hunting in the desert two days later.

Fat For Thought said at April 8, 2011 11:31 AM:


So you rode 41 miles outta town, got lost in the desert, and had to hunt for food in order to survive? Cool!


Great analysis. Comments like yours are exactly what makes the web so damned useful. Thx.

Stephan said at April 8, 2011 2:15 PM:

Hi Randall,

Just stopped by to say thanks for linking to my posts from time to time. I see it in my stats each time. Cheers,

Stephan Guyenet

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