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Caffeine - Good Or Bad On Keto & Low-Carb Diet?

There’s nothing quite like a steaming mug of rich coffee first thing in the morning.  It’s comforting, delicious and simply makes you feel great.  You might say it’s essential to kickstart your day, and you wouldn’t be far wrong.

Coffee contains that magical substance called caffeine that’s notably known for its ability to energise even the most lethargic of us.

A Keto diet can feel strict at times; we give up many favourite comfort foods like bread, cakes and pasta - all in pursuit of health and vitality of course.  But saying goodbye to caffeine-rich treats like coffee could be a deal-breaker for many.  So is caffeine good or bad when you’re committed to a low-carb Keto diet?

What Is Caffeine?

First things first, where does caffeine come from?  Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in the fruit, leaves and beans of coffee, cacao and guarana plants.  It’s the most common stimulant taken across the world, with around 80% of the world’s adult population regularly consuming caffeine.

The popularity of caffeine has a lot to do with its effect on our bodies.  There's a scientific reason for the feel-good factor:  Caffeine blocks a neurotransmitter called adenosine (responsible for promoting relaxation), which in turn enhances dopamine signaling in the brain.  As a result you feel more alert, energised and happy.

In its purest form caffeine is a bitter-tasting white powder that contains many antioxidants and nutrients, it’s also nearly calorie and carb free - making it a Keto-friendly food, yay!

But...yes there’s a big BUT, how you take caffeine is what's crucial on Keto.  Caffeine as a substance is totally Ketogenic, but if you indulge in sugar-laden caffeine drinks and foods, you’ll kick yourself out of ketosis before you can say, “Grande - almond - cinnamon - no foam - extra shot - extra hot - three pump vanilla - caramel macchiato please”.

Benefits Of Caffeine While On Keto

As well as helping you feel more focused and optimistic, caffeine has many other benefits for ketone-fuelled peeps like you:

Fat-Burning

Caffeine can suppress your appetite and increase the breakdown of fat.  Research found caffeine significantly increases resting metabolic rate (RMR), and promotes weight and fat loss.  The potential for caffeine to increase the breakdown of fat in the body also suggests it has an ability to elevate ketones.

Ketone-Boosting

A small yet important study found a significant relationship between caffeine consumption and ketone levels.  10 healthy adults were given a breakfast with either 2.5mg of caffeine per kg of body weight, or 5mg of caffeine per kg of body weight.  Ketone levels increased by 88% and 116% respectively, compared to the control group - breakfast without caffeine.  This shows you could definitely help your body stay in ketosis with a Keto-friendly cuppa.

Blood Sugar-Balancing

Caffeine also seems to protect against fluctuating blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes.  A meta analysis concluded that for every 2 cups of caffeinated coffee drunk a day, the risk of developing diabetes is reduced by 12%. 

Other research suggests the long-term use of caffeine is more efficient at balancing blood sugar.

 

Keto Coffee

Make Your Caffeine Count

While caffeine can be great for your health, and particularly beneficial for ‘Keto-ers’, the amount you indulge in, and the way you enjoy it, matters.

Too much caffeine can cause health problems such as anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, high blood pressure and rapid heart rate.  So how much caffeine is too much?  It really depends on you.  A large analysis of 41 studies found that anywhere between 38-400mg a day can be value-for-health.  But this is a huge range of between ⅓ cup to 4 cups of coffee a day!  

The ideal amount has to be what feels good to you - if you find yourself experiencing the jitters after your morning coffee break, or you’re waking up in the middle of the night after a post-dinner espresso, you may be maxed-out on the caffeine uptake.  

Likewise, if you’re getting your caffeine-fix with a generous helping of refined sugar and carbs, you’re going to unravel your ketosis.  Instead, prosper from the great benefits of caffeine by making it work in your favour - add the good fats, eliminate the carbs and sugar, and feel amazing for it.

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Keto-Friendly Caffeine

Bulletproof Coffee

It’s healthier, tastier and will keep you feeling satisfied.  Energy will surge, metabolism will increase and your immunity will power-up; Bulletproof Coffee lives up to its name.  Here are the other benefits Bulletproof can boast about:

  • Aids digestion
  • Eradicates lethargy
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Promotes ‘happy hormones’
  • Helps weight loss

The Ketogenic low-carb diet is probably most famous for this powerhouse drink.  It’s essentially the finest grade coffee you can afford, taken black with an added 2 tbsp each of grass-fed butter and premium quality MCT oil.  It’s delicious, comforting and oh-so filling.

Black Tea

With hardly any carbs (less than 1g per cup), black tea is a great caffeine option.  Be sure to stay clear of sweetened milks or added sugar though.  Instead, add flavour and sweetness to your brew with a sprinkle of spice like cinnamon, cardamom or nutmeg.  Not only do they give your tea a little oomph, they also add warmth and valuable nutrients.

Green Tea

High in antioxidants, green tea is renowned for its healing and anti-cancer properties.  It’s a great alternative when you fancy something different from the dense richness of coffee.  As with all teas and coffees, it can be enjoyed hot or cold - try adding a lemon slice and mint leaves over crushed ice, for a refreshing caffeine boost free from carbs.

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Is Caffeine Good Or Bad?

 It really depends on how you take it.  On its own - great!  Caffeine is low in sugar and carbs and completely Keto-kind.  But any caffeine product combined with high carbs and/or sugar is bad news for Keto-fans. 

You can continue to enjoy all the benefits of caffeine - and there are many for promoting ketosis - but you may need to change the way you drink it.  Remove sweet milks, sweeteners, sugars and any other tempting syrup on offer.   As always on Keto, take the opportunity to explore new healthy and delicious flavours; with the added benefit of feeling fantastic, you’ll probably find you prefer it.

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