A few months ago, I started noticing a wellness trend on Instagram that quite frankly rocked me. Friends and influencers woke up, went into their kitchens and—gasp—Not pour a cup of coffee. Interestingly, they didn’t give up their morning coffee altogether, but simply put it off for an hour later. Which raises the question: What time of day do you drink coffee?
A quick Google search proved puzzling, so to relieve stress (incidentally, what can happen when you drink your coffee too early), I hit a barn of nutritionists. nutritionist — nutritionist Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN in Brooklyn. Maya Feller Nutrition; celebrity chef and nutritionist Serena Poon; and Edie Horstman of Camille Styles — to learn more about coffee, cortisol, and circadian rhythms. I even posed the question that all caffeine addicts love: is drinking coffee every day healthy?
Featured image of Teal Thomsen.
What is Cortisol?
Before talking about coffee, let’s talk about cortisol. Often referred to as the “stress hormone,” cortisol is produced by our adrenal glands and impacts many systems throughout the body.
As well as being responsible for managing your stress response (hence its common name), it also regulates circadian rhythms that help your body know when to sleep and wake up, explains Poon. . “Cortisol spikes in the morning when you wake up and ideally decreases during the day as you near bedtime. Balanced cortisol levels are important for getting quality sleep and restorative at night. ”
Cortisol peaks early in the morning (usually between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.) then rises and falls throughout the day. When external stressors cause them to spike, our natural energy balance is lost. “Cortisol is affected throughout the day by many stressors and environmental or lifestyle factors,” adds Horstman.
According to Horstman, things that can cause cortisol to spike during the day include:
- sit inside all day
- eat inflammatory foods
- drink more than two or three cups of coffee
- lack of carbohydrates (especially in women)
- blood sugar imbalance
How Does Coffee Affect Cortisol?
Everyone reacts differently to coffee, but our three nutritionists agree on one thing: caffeine can cause a slight spike in cortisol, although not nearly as much as something like mental stress. Regular coffee drinkers are also likely to develop a tolerance, which reduces the cortisol response over time.
When Is The Best Time Of The Day To Drink Coffee?
There seems to be a general rule these days that 9:30 a.m. is prime time for coffee, but one particular timestamp doesn’t fit all.
“If drinking coffee at that time makes you feel most comfortable, then keep going!” Poon said. “In my work with clients, we try to really listen to the messages their bodies are telling them and figure out how to consume coffee that best suits their individual needs.”
Dietitians recommend starting a journal to track how you feel when you drink coffee at different times throughout the morning. Log your incidents, how your sleep is affected, and any restless reactions to find an appropriate pattern for focus and productivity.
What Are Good Alternatives to Early Morning Coffee?
If you still want to create something special to ease your day into, you’re in luck. There are loads of healthy coffee alternatives as well as coffee. And for those who may be sensitive to caffeine, Feller suggests a cup of herbal tea, “Provides hydration along with bioactive compounds. ”
To add to that list of coffee alternatives, Horstman offers a turmeric latte, a bottle of decaf, greens powder with coconut water, or an adrenalin cocktail. If you’re interested in an Ayurvedic solution, Poon shares a satisfying early morning ritual.
“According to Ayurvedic tradition, it is customary to drink a glass of warm water with lemon in the morning to stimulate your digestion (or agni), gives you energy for the day,” explains Poon. “If you’re looking for another way to boost cognitive energy, a short workout session can also help you feel alert and alert without the external stimulation of caffeine.”
Should You Drink Coffee With Food?
While not everyone is affected by drinking coffee on an empty stomach, it can be devastating for some people.
““Drinking coffee on an empty stomach is essentially a powerful supporter of stress hormones,” Horstman says. “Either have breakfast first, start with tea or add some “buffer” to your coffee: L-theanine, collagen, creamer, etc.”
Feller cautions against replacing coffee for breakfast, while Poon recommends adding health-promoting spices to your coffee, including cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa.
Is It OK To Drink Coffee In The Afternoon?
Finally, it’s best to avoid drinking coffee in the afternoon.
“I often ask my clients to try to avoid afternoon coffee to support a restorative sleep cycle,” says Poon. “Caffeine has a half-life of about 5 hours and its effects can last up to 9.5 hours, so you’ll want to have your coffee at least 5 hours before bed. I usually advise my clients to have their coffee before 10am”
Horstman agrees that it’s best to avoid drinking coffee after lunch, but notes that people metabolize it differently.
If you’re looking for a gentler boost into the afternoon, consider some of our favorite coffee alternatives, including matcha, which is packed with caffeine-free benefits.
Is Drinking Coffee Every Day OK?
I was so moved when I heard an echo Yes! When it comes to the health benefits of daily coffee.
“Coffee provides one of the most significant amounts of antioxidants in the standard American dietary pattern,” Feller shares. “Research has shown that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of stroke, dementia, and depression as well as reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Coffee, up to levels of about 300 to 400 milligrams per day, has been shown to be safe and healthy.”
Since the effects of coffee are very individual, it can be helpful to take a holistic approach to coffee consumption. “If my clients are under chronic stress or are drinking coffee in a way that disrupts their sleep, we generally try to limit caffeine consumption,” adds Poon.