While approximately 64 percent of us drink coffee daily, according to a 2018 survey conducted by the National Coffee Association, nearly 100 percent of us will eventually go on a diet.
Which begs the question: Where does coffee fit into the dizzying number of diet plans? From the keto craze to low carb diets to calorie-restrictive diets, can you drink coffee on any of these diets?
Examining coffee at a high level, there’s a satisfying answer: black coffee, on its own, is non-caloric and typically contains an insignificant amount of sodium. Its space on your carb and calorie counter is gloriously nonexistent.
There’s other good health news, too.
The World Health Organization, which once considered coffee a carcinogen, slashed it from the list in June 2016. Several studies have associated it with a longer lifespan and many more link it with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease—that is, heart attacks and strokes—and Type 2 diabetes, thanks to an increase in a hormone that lowers insulin resistance. Plus, it comes with a reduced risk of suffering from select types of cancer.
Researchers have yet to isolate the “Why?” of coffee’s health benefits, but it’s no longer perceived as a risky food to consume in moderation—that is, two to three cups per day, or 24 ounces. Armed with the knowledge of some of the health benefits of coffee, let’s delve into where it sits within your dietary profile.
Can I drink coffee while dieting?
Now, here’s where coffee might fit into your diet:
- Can I drink coffee on a keto diet? As long as the coffee doesn’t contain milk, keto dieters can drink it. However, if dieters are in dire need of added flavor, a tablespoon of heavy cream is low in carbs while higher in fats, making it generally acceptable.
- Can you drink coffee on a low-carb diet? Black coffee is generally OK for low-carb dieters—particularly Atkins dieters—and especially if they’re starting out and adjusting to a new food lifestyle. Some may prefer not to indulge in caffeine because of its impact on metabolism and cravings, but if the coffee is consumed without added sweeteners or milks, it is acceptable. However, science is still sorting out the impact of coffee—even black coffee—on blood glucose levels, which is notable if you’ve adopted a low-carb diet because you’re diabetic. While studies show coffee—or at least, caffeine—lowers the risk of developing diabetes, some studies have noticed a slight increase in post-meal blood sugar levels after consuming coffee. More research on the subject needs to be conducted to be conclusive.
- Can I drink coffee on a candida diet? This diet aims to minimize the presence of specific kinds of candida fungi around the body. Accomplishing this, according to those who advocate for the diet, means reducing sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption and, among other tactics, reducing stress levels. Considering caffeine triggers anxiety in some people, coffee can contribute to stress levels—but only if over-consumed. It also can irritate the lining of the digestive system, counter to the immune-boosting ambitions of the candida diet.
- Can I drink coffee on the paleo diet? While some paleo dieters feel lukewarm about caffeine consumption, coffee can certainly be paleo-friendly if consumed black. Still, for a creamer, try coconut or almond milks. For a sweetener, try maple syrup, raw honey, or coconut sugar as an alternative to refined sugar. Spices like cinnamon are also good ways to spruce up a cup of paleo-adherent coffee.
- Can I drink coffee while intermittent fasting? Black coffee is acceptable as an energy source between meals, though it negates the benefit of letting adrenal glands rest during a fast. Still, because it’s a calorie-free beverage, it’s a good way to satisfy yourself while fasting—especially if the ultimate question at hand is “Can I drink coffee while fasting for weight loss?” The answer is a resounding “Yes.”
- Can I drink coffee on a low-sodium diet? Coffee will actually strip your body of sodium. Which, counterintuitively, may not make it a great fit for someone on a low-sodium diet, because sodium levels will already be fairly low by the time the coffee is consumed. It’s not harmful to consume, on its face, but tread carefully. As the saying goes: all good things in moderation.
It’s safe to say that coffee can be a part of nearly any type of diet, regardless of what type of diet you’re following. Depending on the diet, you may need to adjust your coffee preferences — opting for black coffee, switching up your sweetener, or looking to either low-fat or full-fat milks. However, looking to shed pounds or improve your overall health doesn’t mean you have to forsake your love of the bean.