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Why Are Habits Such As Having Something Sweet with That Cup of Coffee So Hard To Break?

Many coffee lovers find it quite hard to resist having something sweet with a cup of coffee. If you commute to work and pass near a coffee shop, or you live near one, you will always get tempted to pick a cup of coffee and a sweet treat.

Many research studies find that caffeine is a key stimulating compound in coffee. Caffeine dulls one’s ability to taste sweet drinks and foods. As a result, it increases your desire for something sweet. But why are habits such as having something sweet with that cup of coffee so hard to break? Read on to find out.

coffee with sweets cakes sugar

Does Caffeine Cause Cravings for Sugar?

A new study done by researchers based at Cornell University suggests that consuming caffeine plays a major role in how you crave sugar. Essentially, caffeine makes the body resist adenosine receptors that promote relaxation and sleepiness.

The depressing effects of coffee on adenosine receptors is what make you feel more awake after its consumption. Besides this effect of coffee on the body, recent research shows that caffeine decreases the consumer’s ability to taste sweetness. As a result, the drinks and foods you eat taste less sweet after drinking coffee. Consequently, you feel an increased urge to have something sweet such as sweets and cakes.

The study conducted by researchers from Cornell University attempted to assess the impact of consuming caffeine on the ability of the body to taste and recognize sugar. The researchers suspected that consuming caffeinated coffee changes how you perceive taste for the period that the effects of coffee last in the body. Thus, eating something sweet alongside coffee or any other caffeinated drink causes the body to perceive sweet foods differently than normal.

In the study, one test group took decaf coffee with 200mg of added caffeine to make it a strong coffee. Another test group took decaf coffee containing highly concentrated quinine, which is used to simulate the unique taste of caffeine. The two groups drank coffee with added sugar.

During the second test session done on a different day, the two test groups were alternated. The participants reported that the coffee tasted less sweet. However, they did not find any difference in their ability to perceive the taste of bitter, sour, umami, or salty flavors.

In the second phase of the research, participants were tested on their alertness after drinking both decaf and caffeinated coffee. The participants showed similar levels of alertness after consuming both decaf and caffeinated coffee. They were unable to determine the type of coffee they drank.

These findings led to the researchers conclude that a conditioning or placebo effect may exist with regard to drinking coffee. That means by drinking coffee, your mind is stimulated and feels more alert, and these feelings are subconsciously manifested even if you drink decaf coffee. That is why the participants who drank decaf reported feeling the effects that are usually associated with caffeinated coffee.


How Does Coffee Make You Addicted To Having Something Sweet?

Drinking coffee makes it hard to notice the amount of sugar you are consuming. It also makes you crave more sugar since you cannot notice that you are consuming much of it. That is why you will want to have something sweet with coffee.

The FDA recommends that you should not exceed 10 percent of your daily calorie intake from added sugar. If you drink a very sugary coffee such as Pumpkin Spice Latte, you are consuming 50 grams of added sugar in on 16 oz cup. That translates to about 2,000 calories per day.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming a maximum of 3 grams of sugar per day for men and 25 grams per day for women. Thus, by the time you are finishing your sugary latte, you are probably exceeding your daily sugar intake.

You might assume that consuming overly sugary coffee would taste like liquid candy. However, coffee masks how you taste sweetness. That is why people who drink very sugary caffeinated drinks get surprised to realize the much sugar they are consuming.

These research findings explain why coffee is troubling for oral health. Also, it can affect your overall health when you drink more sugar without being aware that you are exceeding the recommended daily intake.

The most troubling fact is that by drinking excess sugar, you trigger your brain to crave more sugar. Since you are not aware of how much sugar you have already consumed, you will order something sweet to eat with coffee. Thus, the next time you order coffee alongside something sweet, remember you might be consuming more sugar than the recommended daily intake.



Why are habits such as having something sweet with that cup of coffee so hard to break? Essentially, we form habits when we repeat a certain behavior such that we learn associations even without being aware. For instance, if you drink coffee with a sweet treat, you will always crave more sweet treats such that drinking coffee alone will not feel right anymore. Besides, drinking sugary coffee triggers more cravings for sugar as you are not aware that you are consuming more sugar than recommended.