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Jan 23

Guest Post – Impact of Coffee on Triglycerides

Note from Dave: Sean is a prolific member of the LMHR Facebook Group and I was keen to share this remarkable experiment with you all as a guest post here. Enjoy!

My name is Sean Brennan and I have been on a ketogenic diet for 14 months now, beginning on Thanksgiving of 2017.  It has been awesome – 35 pounds melted away in the first 6 months and I have a more stable mood, better digestion, resolved eczema, and have more control over my appetite. 

Unfortunately, I did not do a baseline blood test prior to the diet, however, I found a blood test from 2011, while I was eating a High Carb Low Fat/Standard American Diet. I was probably eating a vegan diet at that time: total cholesterol was at 191 mg/dL and HDL at 38 mg/dL.

Test #2 – Unexpected High Trigs  

I had read that if you are in the middle of losing weight you could skew your blood test, so I waited until my weight stabilized to get testing done. Back when I was eating a vegan diet several years ago, I became aware that saturated fat increased my cholesterol. I had tested around 240 mg/dL (the horror!) and I promptly decreased my coconut oil (high saturated fat) intake and saw my number drop to 165 mg/dL.  So, when my initial test came back after a keto way of eating with a total cholesterol of 313 mg/dL, I was not surprised.  However, I was very surprised at my triglyceride reading of 131 mg/dL. 

Typically, on a ketogenic diet it is expected that triglycerides drop like a stone due to the limited carbohydrate intake.  In fact, many people will have a triglyceride to HDL ratio approaching 1:1.  So, I was a little concerned that my ratio was 131:47 or 2.79:1.

Looking For Answers

Thankfully, I was aware of cholesterolcode.com and Dave and Siobhan’s work.  I promptly became a member of their Facebook group for Lean Mass Hyper-responders, and asked for advice regarding my numbers.  Siobhan directed me to a blog post for people who likewise had high triglycerides while on a Low Carb High Fat diet.

Of the suggestions listed, the only one that stood out to me as a possibility was a coffee sensitivity. Prior to test #3, I had 1-3 cups of coffee per day for several months.  So, I decided to cut it out and retest.

Test #3, #4, & #5 – No Coffee  

Somewhat painfully, I was able to cut out coffee for four days prior to test #3.  My triglyceride test result was 76 mg/dL, a dramatic decline from 131 mg/dL!  Better yet, my trig:HDL ratio was 76:51 or 1.49:1.  I was a happy camper!  I maintained my coffee abstinence and achieved similar, if not slightly improving triglyceride results, for test #4 & #5 of 71 & 70, respectively.

Test #6 & #7, Back on Coffee

To confirm the effect of coffee on my triglycerides, I drank a cup of black, French press prepared coffee on two consecutive days and re-tested.  My trigs effectively doubled back up to 140 mg/dL!  For test #7, I drank filtered coffee for a week and saw similar results of 147 mg/dL.

Test #8 & #9 – Decaf Result

I abstained for another week and predictably my triglycerides fell back to 63 mg/dL.  For one final test, I drank decaf for a week and interestingly saw my triglycerides climb back up to 125 mg/dL.

To Sum It All Up…

So, it is clear to me that unfiltered, filtered, and decaf coffee dramatically raise my triglycerides by a factor of 2.  This is quite the effect, although I really am not sure why this happens or if it is harmful (though it definitely makes me uncomfortable). 

Summary of the changes Sean saw.

Dave suggested that there is some evidence to support the hypothesis that coffee increases lipolysis, that is, it possibly super charges fat trafficking. Another interesting tidbit of information is that I have a gene (CYP1A2 – rs762551(A;C)) that indicates slow caffeine metabolism – although this may or may not be related.

Where to Go From Here?

What do I plan to do with this information?  Well, it has been theorized that while eating a low carbohydrate diet, high total and LDL cholesterol may not be harmful especially if one’s trig to HDL ratio is low.  I am comfortable living by this theory, and therefore, I think it is in my best interest to keep triglycerides low by greatly reducing coffee intake (and maintaining my low carb lifestyle).  I don’t think there will be a net loss to my well-being, since coffee tends to lower my energy after the initial bump, boost my stress hormones, negatively affect my digestion, and sometimes interferes with my sleep quality.  So, as the reasons stack up against coffee for me, I plan to only have it as an occasional treat or productivity boost. 

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Dustin
Guest
Dustin

Very interesting thank you! Do you think the mechanism is related to caffeine directly, or perhaps some other compound found in coffee? I am a heavy tea drinker with low trig, but I can’t stand the taste/smell of coffee otherwise I would experiment myself. Also I believe tea typically has much less caffeine than coffee does.

Mark Walker
Guest
Mark Walker

Yes we drink tea and coffee. Tea also contains caffeine. Any volunteers with home monitor for conducting a trigs test for tea? Just as important as coffee!

Annlee
Guest
Annlee

https://www.snpedia.com/index.php/Rs762551
I’m CC, and find a difference in pulse (-4-5bpm) and BP (-10-12 points, diastolic and systolic) when I eschew coffee. It may increase my TG some, but I find my level of exercise a bigger factor.

YMMV, of course.

Sarat V
Guest
Sarat V

I also have (CYP1A2 – rs762551(A;C)), but my last TG in Dec was 74. 2-3 cups of coffee a day. So, that may not have anything to do with it. On Keto for 9 months with stable weight in Dec. TC 242, TG 74, HDL 66, LDL 161. I am not sure if I am “lean”, but the meter at the gym says my BF % is 16.

Ken S
Guest
Ken S

Would love to see people do similar tests using a third group: decaf coffee. Is it the coffee bean, or caffeine?

Sandra Carusetta
Guest
Sandra Carusetta

This is a helpful post! Thanks for the article. (Just FYI, I think he means Thanksgiving 2017 for the start of his keto journey; 2018 would make a total of 3 or so months rather than 18. Not so important now, but down the road it may become confusing.)

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

My trigs went from 2.28mmol/L to 1.29mmol/L when I quit coffee. I also have (CYP1A2 – rs762551(A;C). I haven’t had a drop since and my last Trigs were 0.76mmol/L.

Bill Robinson
Guest

Maybe you meant Thanksgiving 2017?

shannon
Guest
shannon

Thank you and very interesting! As a coffee drinker with high HDL and very Low Trigs, I shall follow suit by cutting down. I am also LMHR, I would love to do that experiment on myself but the needles YIKES!

shannon
Guest
shannon

If anyone has had 23 and me done, you can look u how you respond to caffeine, if it is the caffeine having an effect…

Tanya
Guest
Tanya

If not a LMHR but Keto is the effect the same?

Sean Brennan
Guest
Sean Brennan

I think there is wide individual variation… some people seem to not be affected the same way.

Peter Yan
Guest
Peter Yan

I believe it has something to do with the coffee oil.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070614162223.htm

Angela Pearce
Guest
Angela Pearce

Is cafestol the issue? Any chance Sean would test this hypothesis by repeating trial using paper filters? PLEASE?

Jennifer k
Guest
Jennifer k

Drip vs. Press

In a 2004 edition of his medical newsletter, Dr. John McDougall describes the relationship between coffee and triglycerides. He points out that two chemicals found in coffee, cafestol and kahweol, can significantly raise blood cholesterol and triglycerides. The impact of these chemical is largely nullified, however, by the use of a paper coffee filter. This means that standard drip coffee, as prepared in many homes, restaurants and coffee shops—and permitted by many cholesterol testing facilities—is generally safe. Unfiltered, boiled coffee, such as the coffee produced by a French press, contains the harmful chemical

William Healey
Guest
William Healey

Any alcohol consumption during this period?

Sean Brennan
Guest
Sean Brennan

I have not had alcohol since 10/30/2018 🙂

Richard McIntosh
Guest
Richard McIntosh

Perhaps compare with a caffeine pill?

Bill
Guest
Bill

As a counterpoint, I drink 20 oz of very strong dark roast coffee and another 20 oz of very strong decaf dark roast coffee every morning. My fasting triglycerides are under 40, sometimes as low as 20. For me, low carb + daily intermittent fasting + high intensity strength training are likely other relevant factors.

Bill
Guest
Bill

Also…I haven’t done the genetic test, but based on the all-day caffeine boost I get from early AM consumption I’m pretty sure I’m a slow metabolizer. Even at lunch caffeine can keep me up at night.

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

Me too. I can only drink it in the morning. This is the case with dark chocolate too.

Jason
Guest
Jason

I’d be curious to see if this also occurs with various teas…

BobM
Guest
BobM

Did he control for diet, exercise, length of fasting, and other factors that affect trigs?

I drink the same amount of coffee/green tea every day, and my trigs have varied from very low to high, and the main factor I can discern was the amount of fasting I did in the days/weeks prior to the test.

I’d prefer to see that he (1) at exactly the same things (2) at the same times and (3) had the exact same amount and type of exercise and at the same time, while having or not having coffee. Otherwise, as Dave’s own data shows, these numbers are so highly variable, that coffee may or may not be the cause.

Deborah L Kolesar
Guest
Deborah L Kolesar

Hi Bob, interested in what effect fasting had on your cholesterol panel, ie Total Cholesterol, HDL, LDL and Trig. I’m at 4 days fasted and wondering if I should test. Thanks, Debbie

Tpate
Guest
Tpate

This is so helpful! I am not a coffee fan but negan drinking bullet proof coffee on Keto and saw my tri increase significantly recently. While I like the coffee, I prefer lower tri! Tp

Brenda Zorn
Guest

Currently in a very strict Phase 1 of a 6 week Carnivore/caffeine experiment. I am using a protocol set up for me by Siobhan Huggins . 2 weeks steak/water, 2 weeks steak/coffee, 2 weeks steak/decaf. 6 consecutive weeks, full panels before, after, inbetween.
In 2017, whilst I participated in a 30 day steak challenge with my friend Donna Lordi, Dave and I observed an alarming jump in my triglycerides from 90 to 560. We discuss it in a 2KetoDudes podcast. We are replicating my conditions now. So steak-only again this time.
http://2ketodudes.com/show.aspx?episode=70

Dave
Admin

I’m very excited to see your upcoming data, Brenda. 🙂

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

I wonder if he ever tested his insulin levels. Coffee is very high in salicylates, and those sensitive to salicylates can produce excessive insulin (and excessive insulin can impact triglycerides). My husband, who was mostly carnivore, removed coffee, tea, and no longer has the occasional berries and avocados, and now has now broke through his weight loss plateau. Other symptoms have improved as well (though there was a bad withdrawal period similar to SSRI withdrawal). So I’d be curious as to any other tests done as well, and what the author’s daily diet looked like.

Sean Brennan
Guest
Sean Brennan

My fasted insulin levels were 2.6 on 10/05/2018 and 1.0 on 12/07/2018… my most recent tests

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

I believe I have seen where people have posted their lab results and Dave has made comments/recommendations. Is that something you are interested in and if so where would I post mine? Thank you

Sean Brennan
Guest
Sean Brennan

You could check out the facebook groups… Dave does not comment on every post but their are a lot of smart people in there. Also, if you participate in the group for a little while you begin to see patterns and will get up to speed quickly.

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

. I love my cup of coffee in the morning.

Ray
Guest
Ray

I never did drink coffee or tea and I historically got my caffeine from Diet Coke. I have recently cut back on the Diet Coke and now I take a caffeine pill if I need a boost. Let,s face it, the reason coffee is so popular is because of the caffeine boost it gives. I have not done caffeine and trig testing. However, it is very likely that I did each of my blood tests food fasted for at least 14 hours and I would have had about 1 liter of Diet Coke each day before the blood draw in the afternoon and my trigs have always been under 50 mg/dL. I make this comment just to add support to the theory that it is not the caffeine that is raising you trigs.

Alan P
Guest
Alan P

Great info will try the no caffine days before my next bloodwork and see what happens to my Trigs.

Jeffery M Morgan
Guest
Jeffery M Morgan

It is really great to do some experiments on our self rather than just relying to established medical information. Well, there is not sense to reinvent the well but when in it comes to health, I guess it still is best that we really know our own health factors.

–Jeff Morgan–
https://caffeinetreat.com

Alex11
Guest
Alex11

I have a bulks and bulks of puer cakes tea both green and black. When i finish it or rather give it away in the proper hands – i have no further intention to by new cakes coz i dunno how it affect my metabolism regardless even considering the fact chinese tea was a great deal and passion and big chunk of my culture for me for years, i even study chinese because of this. But i have even greater passion for my health. So no more tea, alas.

Alex11
Guest
Alex11

Alas, we didnt realy know if it something to do with caffeine itself or some solids in coffe-bean and random components of final product as well. So we need to know what happened if you drink just plain tablet caffeine to the purity of the expirement – too pity author didnt include this in his study.

Peter
Guest
Peter

Might have something to do with cafestol. Here’s one of the research done on cafestol and serum tryglycerides…………https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/73/1/45/4729662

Eric
Guest
Eric

Do we have any data on the effect of Tea on triglycerides? I’m giving up coffee for now anyway and I drink a lot of green and black tea during the day. Thanks

fourscore
Guest

Mostly curious if Remnants followed Trigs as well? Coffee vs none or even tea…

sharron
Guest
sharron

This is so interesting, as my cholesterol shot up quite a bit since last year, although everything else is WNL. A few months ago, I started drinking dark coffee from keurig maker (no paper filter). Will abstain a couple of days before my next blood test just to see if it makes a difference. Not very scientific, but still curious.

AlisonJane
Guest
AlisonJane

Have you experimented with niacin before a fasted blood test? I was wondering that it might be of use in the protocol.
Also I was wondering about flax seed oil – I have read that it it very ketogenic so I wondered if it might also be of use somewhere in the protocol?

Mickey
Guest
Mickey

(1) i’ve been in ketosis for 3 years; (2) I’ve consistently had high triglycerides (150-200 range) and fairly low HDL (less than 50); (3) I drink a ton of coffee (4) I have the same gene as Sean CYP1A2 ; therefore

(5) i’m giving up coffee and retesting. in fact, I just had a test while still on coffee, so I’ll have comparative results.

Only question is, my genetics company Vitagene says that the CYP1A2 gene indicates FAST caffeine metabolism, not slow.

“Caffeine metabolism is the rate at which your body processes caffeine.Based on your genetics, you eliminate caffeine from your body quickly. This means that you may feel the effects of caffeine for a shorter period of time and you may tend to drink more caffeinated beverages, such as coffee. Because caffeine doesn’t stay in your body for very long, you are at lower risk than slow metabolizers for some of the adverse effects such as hypertension.”

I find that to be true, I can (and do) drink coffee well into the afternoon with no sleeplessness. I also have low blood pressure and no indications of hypertension.

Here is their citation regarding the gene: https://www.geneticsmr.com/articles/6221

A real Sherlock Holmes mystery perhaps close to a solution … Love this website!

Cindy
Guest
Cindy

Thank you for your research!!
I am in shock! I have had very high triglycerides for ten years, ever since having my son. My last reading before yesterday was from 2017-11 and was 11.58 mmol/L which I think equals 1025 mg/DL. This was down from my highest reading in 2010 after having my daughter, of 16.79 mmol/L or 1487 mg/DL! (I do not drink alcohol and this was on regular SAD diet. I have always preferred eating carbs over eating protein).
For the past 2 wks I cut out all coffee, and I had my blood work done yesterday. I was so excited to see that my triglycerides are down to 4.74 mmol/L or 419 mg/DL! I have not seen them below 789 mg/DL anytime in the past ten years!
Also, my ALT and AST numbers are much better.
I hate to give up coffee but that difference is remarkable!!
Thank you for suggesting that coffee could be an issue.
I am going to get serious about doing low carb. I am scared to do high fat with already having what are still high trigs. I was also thinking I should try to do some fasting.
Would love any feedback or suggestions you may have. I really want to start feeling better, even if I have to give up my beloved coffee!
Thanks!!!