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The Effects of Coffee on a Low Carb Diet

by
author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
The Effects of Coffee on a Low Carb Diet
You may be limited to 2 cups of coffee on your low-carb diet. Photo Credit somchaij/iStock/Getty Images

So you're a regular coffee drinker who's considering a low-carb diet. Better weigh that decision carefully over your next Venti Bold because the diet recommends you limit your java intake. According to the Atkins website, caffeine in coffee may lower your blood sugar or increase food cravings. While it's always a good idea to consume only moderate amounts of coffee no matter what diet you're following, it may be the diet itself and not the coffee that affects blood sugar and cravings. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

Coffee and Blood Sugar

While there is an association between coffee and better blood sugar, it's not known to cause hypoglycemia. It's recommended that you limit your intake of caffeinated beverages when you have issues with hypoglycemia, however, because of how it might affect your health in other ways, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you feel disoriented, dizzy, irritable, tired or anxious after drinking a cup of coffee on your low-carb diet, consult your doctor immediately.

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Coffee and Cravings

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Nutrition investigated the effects of coffee, both regular and decaffeinated, on appetite in a small group of healthy men. The study found that neither type of coffee had any effect on appetite or intake. This study was small, and the participants were not following a low-carb diet, however. If you're craving certain foods while on the low-carb diet, it may be more that you're missing the taste or how the food makes you feel.

You're Allowed Some Coffee

While low-carb proponents report ill health effects for some people who drink coffee while following the diet, you are allowed up to 2 cups a day as tolerated. If you drink several cups a day and decide to cut back as suggested, you might want to do so slowly to prevent withdrawal symptoms, which might includes drowsiness, headaches, irritability, nausea or vomiting. For overall health, whether you're following a low-carb diet or not, it's recommended that you limit coffee intake to 3 cups a day, according to MedlinePlus.

Tips for Keeping It Low-Carb

Coffee is a carb-free food, but what you add to your coffee may not be. When following a low-carb diet, regular sweeteners are out, and it's recommended that you use sugar substitutes instead. One package of a sugar substitute has 1 gram of net carbs and needs to be counted toward your total carb intake. Also, if you lighten your coffee, creamer is low in carbs but high in fat, and you may need to limit the total amount to 3 tablespoons a day.

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