Acute caffeine ingestion reduces insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Nutr J. 2016 Dec 28;15(1):103. doi: 10.1186/s12937-016-0220-7.


Background: According to previous meta-analyses, coffee consumption reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, the underlying mechanism remains unknown. Whether caffeine, the key ingredient in coffee, has a beneficial effect on the glycemic homeostasis and the anti-diabetic effect is particularly controversial. The aim of this study was to summarize the effect of acute caffeine ingestion on insulin sensitivity in healthy men.

Methods: A comprehensive literature search for papers published before April 2016 was conducted in EMBASE, PubMed, and Cochrane Library databases. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that investigated the effect of caffeine on insulin sensitivity in healthy humans without diabetes were included. A random effects meta-analysis was conducted using Review Manager 5.3.

Results: The search yielded 7 RCTs in which caffeine intake was the single variant. Compared with placebo, caffeine intake significantly decreased the insulin sensitivity index, with a standardized mean difference of -2.06 (95% confidence interval -2.67 to -1.44, I2 = 49%, P for heterogeneity = 0.06).

Conclusion: Acute caffeine ingestion reduces insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects. Thus, in the short term, caffeine might shift glycemic homeostasis toward hyperglycemia. Long-term trials investigating the role of caffeine in the anti-diabetic effect of coffee are needed.

Keywords: Caffeine; Diabetes; Insulin sensitivity; Risk factor.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Coffee / chemistry
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Coffee
  • Insulin
  • Caffeine