If your doctor has scheduled you for a lipid panel to test your cholesterol levels, they likely told you to fast beforehand for at least 8 hours. While water is fine to drink before a lipid panel test, many avid morning coffee drinkers wonder if black coffee will break their fast.
As always, the best option to find out whether drinking coffee will affect your lab results is to talk to your doctor or call the lab beforehand. However, you can probably drink black coffee before your lipid panel test in most cases. Continue reading to learn about why that is and what restrictions may apply and does black coffee affect a lipid panel test.
What is The Purpose of Fasting?
Doctors order fasting because your body’s metabolic processes – those that convert food and drink into energy – alter the levels of different contents in your blood in unpredictable ways. What you eat (and when) makes a huge difference in how these levels are read in a blood test, whose goal is to figure out your baseline results.
Fasting for 8-12 hours before a blood panel helps ensure that the levels in the results are accurate to your baseline. This is true in blood glucose tests, lipid panels, and many other tests.
What is a Lipid Panel?
A lipid panel tests your blood for its cholesterol content. Doctors used to only take an overall or “total” cholesterol reading to determine whether a person’s levels were high. Later, we learned that this is not enough information since the quality of the cholesterol is even more important than the amount.
Cholesterol – broadly separable into LDL (“bad”) and HDL (“good”) – is more complex than a single number can describe. Since cholesterol tests are designed to evaluate a person’s risk factors for developing disorders of the endocrine system as well as heart disease, a lipid panel needs to be accurate.
Triglyceride levels, another element tested in a lipid panel, are particularly susceptible to drastic changes in value when a person eats. Practically any consumed calories will skew the patient’s numbers and prompt the doctor to prescribe a retest.
Does Black Coffee Affect a Lipid Panel Test?
While fasting includes all foods and caloric drinks, water, black coffee, and tea are generally fine to consume before a lipid panel. This is because they contain negligible calories and do not impact your body’s metabolic processes enough to significantly alter your results.
This is not true of coffee that contains additives such as cream and sugar, which is why we clarified that we’re talking about “black” coffee. Once you start adding things, you’re adding calories, and that would most definitely impact the results of your lipid panel.
Understanding Your Results
A lipid panel presents your results in terms of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. These levels could be considered a snapshot of your metabolic health by your doctor, as well as factors in evaluating you for hereditary risks.
Your doctor can explain your results in terms of your family history, your past lipid panels, and your next steps. High levels of the wrong kinds of cholesterol can often be managed with lifestyle changes, such as reducing the amount of dairy and eggs that you consume.
Since high cholesterol levels can lead to diseases as well as heart attacks and strokes, it’s important to be evaluated and make necessary changes to maintain healthy levels. Medication is a possibility as well, depending on your situation.
When is Fasting Not Appropriate?
Fasting for 8-12 hours is considered to be generally safe for most people. However, fasting can be contraindicated for certain people, such as those with “brittle diabetes.” This means that their blood sugar levels change drastically at the slightest dietary change. Pregnant women also need to be careful when fasting.
The advice in this article should also not be considered applicable to situations involving fasting for tests other than lipid panels. For instance, if you are ordered to fast before surgery, black coffee is included in the fast. Speak with your doctor about the rules for fasting as they apply to you.
A lipid panel is an important part of any patient’s yearly checkup and is often prescribed to assess a patient’s risk factors for heart disease. The importance of this test means that the results should be as accurate as possible. Make sure to follow your doctor’s advice on fasting, even though a cup of black coffee in the morning probably won’t affect anything.
Speedy Sticks is a mobile concierge phlebotomy service that provides at-home blood draws and on-site diagnostic/health screenings for businesses and individuals. One of these tests is a Lipid Panel which can be performed by one of our specialists. Book an appointment today to find out your cholesterol levels.
*This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace consulting with a healthcare professional. Please consult with your primary care physician or healthcare provider before engaging in any services offered by Speedy Sticks.
**These are approximations, and experts disagree on some values. Consult your healthcare provider for recommendations suitable for you. It is also important to ensure the levels are given in the same measurements, such as mg/dL, etc.