Isn’t it every coffee lover’s dream to wake up to the smell of coffee and feel your body come alive as you sip the divine elixir of life? What if I told you that coffee and mornings do not mix? Oh, I can feel your rage already. But as a die-hard coffee lover, I feel it is my obligation to raise the issue.
If you feel I just insulted your decade-long habit of drinking coffee in the morning and possibly ruined your day, it is alright. Stop reading now, I will take no offense. But if you, just like me, want to enjoy your coffee while ripping the most health benefits, then give this post a read. It is essential, really, that you know.
Let’s Talk Coffee
When You Shouldn’t Be Drinking Coffee
Although the ultimate reason for drinking coffee is pleasure, there are many things that go into consideration why and how to drink coffee.
For one, coffee is a stimulant and can affect your nervous system, vascular system and your brain, among the others. It means that you shouldn’t be drinking coffee in the evenings because it may contribute to insomnia, or shouldn’t be drinking it at all if you are (ideally) under 18 because your nervous system is not yet fully developed.
It also means that people suffering from anxiety and panic attacks or high blood pressure should exercise caution and pay attention to how much coffee they consume and how it affects them.
Coffee must also be limited during pregnancy in order to not consume more than 200 mg of caffeine per day, as it could affect the nervous system and development of the baby. Same goes for breastfeeding mothers, too.
Because caffeine and other phenolic compound are known to interfere with the absorption of particular vitamins and minerals, such as B-complex vitamins and Iron, coffee should not be taken with food either.
But this is not actually all!
What if I told you that you shouldn’t drink coffee in the morning? Well, at least not first thing in the morning. And before you start throwing empty mugs at me, shouting something incomprehensible, let’s look at the scientific reason behind that claim.
Why Coffee and Mornings Don’t Mix
The short answer is: Cortisol.
But let’s elaborate a little.
Cortisol is known to the majority of us as the “stress hormone”, but there’s a fact that many of us miss:
Cortisol does not necessarily represent stress, unless it is overproduced and/or poorly reabsorbed, i.e. circulating in your body for longer than it should.
Cortisol plays a vital function in your body, regulating your blood glucose levels, macronutrient metabolism for blood glucose maintenance, vascular and muscular tone, immune response, anti-inflammatory processes, blood pressure and nervous system activation. Therefore, cortisol levels should be kept in healthy balance to perform its regulatory function. Too much cortisol is bad and leading to inflammation, blood glucose imbalance, blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems, but too little cortisol is just as bad – for it leads to adrenal fatigue, making you tired and causing the same imbalances.
Coffee and Cortisol
Cortisol levels rise and fall naturally throughout the day. In the morning, just after you wake up, cortisol levels rise at around 8 to 9 am. It is at its highest in the morning, giving you a boost of energy. At noon it rises again and falls at around 1 pm, and then rises for the 3rd and final time at about 5.30 pm.
“What does it have to do with my coffee?” you may ask.
As it turns out, coffee and cortisol don’t go well together. First, the effect of caffeine is greatly reduced when cortisol is also present in the body. Moreover, the presence of cortisol along with caffeine may build tolerance to caffeine, meaning that you will now need more coffee to feel the desired effect. They say coffee is a drug, right? If you drink more than 3 cups of coffee a day, it starts to have a detrimental effect on your body, such as overstimulation, mental exhaustion, faster heart rate, increased blood pressure, insomnia and anxiety, as well as malnutrition from poor micronutrient absorption and/or increased micronutrient excretion. While research has shown that we get maximum benefit from coffee when we consume no less than 3 cups, more than 3 cups have no additional benefit and may potentially cause the aforementioned problems.
A problem much worse than tolerance to caffeine lies in the fact that caffeine and cortisol seem to have a similar effect on the body, and having the two together tells your body that there is no need to produce that much cortisol – which would have probably been fine if there was too much of it, but now your body relies on caffeine to perform cortisol’s functions. So taking coffee when your cortisol levels peak may actually lead to serious hormone imbalances – something that we really do not want.
Best Time To Drink Coffee
So now is a good time for you to ask: “When can I have my coffee then?”
Well, I’m glad you asked! Stemming from the peak times of 8 to 9 am, 12 to 13 pm and 4.30 to 5.30 pm, your best time to drink coffee is the one that doesn’t fall into these timeframes. So to answer the question for you:
The best time to drink coffee is:
– 9.30 to 11.30 am
– 13.30 to 5 pm
And if you absolutely need coffee in the evening, then any time after 6 pm will do. But it is really not advised to drink coffee past 3 or 4 pm to keep your night sleep healthy.
And of course, it is worth to remember that you should wait at least 30 or 40 minutes after consuming a meal to have your cuppa, because otherwise you risk developing nutritional deficiencies.
Now that you have the information, let’s make the most of our Coffee Time!