It’s easier to grab a cup of coffee than preparing a full breakfast for the day, eating it, and leaving the house. But it’s not as helpful as you may think it is. Today, I’ll explain why drinking coffee on an empty stomach isn’t an excellent idea.
Why Having Coffee In The Morning Is A Bad Idea
Drinking coffee in the morning can actually bring you down faster than it can pick you up.
Shocking, right? But it’s a fact that is backed up by science. There’s a rhythm in your body that’s called the circadian rhythm. It tells your brain when to sleep and when to rise and shine.
Coffee messes up the rhythm, so you can feel even more sleepy in the morning after drinking coffee.
Another reason is that it disrupts your natural hormone flow. So when you wake up and start to feel like you can finally make sense of things, it’s because of a hormone called “cortisol.”
Depending on the person, cortisol kicks in at different times to wake them up. For example, when you drink coffee, caffeine lowers the level of cortisol in your blood, so it makes you even sleepier than before, or you feel like you’re still not fully up yet.
Suppose you keep drinking coffee right after waking up regularly, at one point. In that case, your brain starts to consider caffeine as an alternative to cortisol, stops cortisol production, and starts depending on your caffeine intake.
This is the part where you start to struggle to make sense of anything without coffee, and your coffee habit turns into an energy leech instead of jumpstarting your day with a boost of energy.
Required Time For Caffeine To Kick In
After you drink coffee, it takes around 45 minutes for your body to absorb it all. After that, caffeine reaches the peak levels in your bloodstream at anywhere between 15 minutes and 2 hours.
But these numbers aren’t constant since it depends on a few different things, like how sensitive you are to caffeine according to your genes (Yes, this is the complicated science part of the article).
95% of the caffeine we absorb and metabolize gets affected by something scientists call the CYP1A2-gene. And this gene has two variations.
According to a report from Coffee & Health, 95% of the caffeine we metabolize is affected by something called the CYP1A2-gene, which is divided into two different variations.
- Fast Metabolizers
- Slow Metabolizers
If you fall in the first category, you’ll feel the effects of caffeine for a shorter time. But if you’re a member of the second club, you can feel the impact even after a few hours.
Another small yet important factor is the type of food present in your gut when drinking coffee. When you drink coffee on a full stomach, the effects of the caffeine take a higher time to hit.
Though some people don’t feel anything even when they drink coffee on an empty stomach, for others, the effects are so rapid they can be anxiety-inducing.
Adverse Effects Of Drinking Coffee On An Empty Stomach
The effects of caffeine intake on an empty stomach don’t stop at physical issues. If you are too sensitive to the effects of caffeine, you’ll face adverse mental effects, as well as physical.
Effect #1: Spike In Blood Sugar
Coffee reduces the ability to regulate blood sugar levels properly. When your body isn’t regulating blood sugar regularly, you are more vulnerable to diabetes and various heart diseases.
But if you eat a healthy breakfast before chugging your coffee down, you can avoid this disaster.
Effect #2: Higher Acid Reflux
Coffee stimulates acidity in the stomach, which can be a severe issue.
No matter what you eat or drink, it causes the gastric juices in your stomach to flood your system to digest it. But caffeine acts as an irritant that can cause a higher amount of acid reflux in your digestive system.
Doing so can stimulate acidity in the stomach, and it causes heartburn. Heartburn is when you feel chest pain due to the high production of stomach acid.
If you have acid reflux issues, don’t ignore them. Long-term acid reflux issues can lead to even worse health issues.
If the problem persists, try switching to organic coffee or tea.
Effect #3: Stomach Ulcer
As we mentioned, when you drink coffee on an empty stomach, your acid starts producing acids to digest it. But when the acid doesn’t find any solid material to break down, the acids start breaking down and damaging the protective stomach lining.
If the issue gets too severe, you can end up with a stomach ulcer.
Effect #4: Jittery Feeling
This one occurs mainly to the slow metabolizers. When the effect of coffee lingers too long, you are highly prone to jittery effects from coffee. Even if you’ve eaten recently, you’ll still get them.
For slow metabolizers, coffee jitters can occur even with a full stomach. Having coffee on an empty stomach only amplifies that effect.
The easiest solution is to switch to a caffeinated beverage with lower amounts of caffeine.
Effect #5: Dehydration
Coffee can cause the amount of fluid that passes through your body to increase, and it can dehydrate you really fast. Dehydration leads to headache, and headache leads to a really bad mood.
The worst part of this issue is that coffee lovers don’t stop at a single cup in the morning. Drinking multiple cups only speeds up the process, and you can feel even more dehydrated or worse.
Effect #6: Loss Of Appetite
No matter how much you pretend that your coffee is the best breakfast you can ever have, your stomach is still empty, and it’s a fact. The main concern here is it’ll stay that way for a while.
Coffee works as an appetite suppressor. When you drink coffee early in the morning, it takes away your appetite. That’s why many drink coffee to lose weight.
Never skip breakfast, depending on coffee, no matter how important your body image is.
Effect #7: Digestion Issues
As you can already tell, the most effects coffee can have on you start from your stomach. And most of it goes back to your digestive system.
As we saw earlier, coffee causes acid reflux in the stomach. Constant reflux of acid can damage and ruin the overall digestive system, so daily digestion problems can occur.
If you’re sensitive to caffeine and having digestion issues, switching away from it is the only solution.
Having fun Nomies? Check out our piece on is coffee acidic.
Effect #8: Anxiety
Here’s a mental effect that can ruin your entire day or the whole week.
Overconsumption of caffeine can cause severe mood swings, elevated stress levels, and high anxiety. And, of course, the caffeine-induced anxiety symptoms get amplified on an empty stomach.
Not only that, people who are high on anxiety due to caffeine can be more irritable due to an elevated heart rate and constant nervousness.
If you wondered why your colleague is in a bad mood today, it’s probably the morning cup they had earlier.
Effect #9: A Smelly Situation
I couldn’t find any other way to name this part, and you can already guess where this is going from the title.
When your body tries to digest food but doesn’t find any, the bacteria in your stomach start feeding on the undigested food after slowing down your digestion process. When they feed, the byproduct is hydrogen sulfide gas, which you can smell from rotten eggs.
Too much gas buildup in your stomach causes your body to try to release it, and we all know which way the release will be through. 💨
Effect #10: Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is the process where you restrict your time frame of eating. It can provide you with many health benefits, including weight loss, more stable blood pressure, and better digestion.
When you’re IF, drink plenty of water and don’t include caffeine in diets unless you really need it. Otherwise you’ll continue to feel all the effects stated above.
The Only Time It’s Harmless
Suppose you’re a member of the upper echelon of the gene pool who doesn’t get the effects we stated above. In that case, chances are your metabolism is very high. Therefore, you won’t have to face any negative repercussions of drinking coffee on an empty stomach.
But even with a higher tolerance to caffeine, make sure you never skip breakfast. Trust me when I say that you don’t want to deal with the issues afterward.
The Best Time to Drink coffee
To ensure your cortisol levels are constant, and you’re not ruining your stomach, the best time to drink your coffee is either in the late morning or early afternoon.
But even if you’re drinking coffee late in the morning on an empty stomach, you can face every effect we stated above. So make sure you grab some food before you drink coffee.
When you drink coffee in the late afternoon, it ruins your sleep schedule. That’s why it’s better to avoid drinking coffee after a certain time of day.
Never Skip Breakfast
All the problems we mentioned earlier can be avoided with one solution: never skipping breakfast. Still, you might think of doing it anyway.
Breakfast is the first meal of the day, and it’s more important than many people think it is. Breakfast jumpstarts your system and provides you with enough energy to go through most of the day.
Morning coffee might sound like a good idea, but morning coffee is only good for the morning, if I’m honest. For a decent energy source later, you have to go back to eating real food.
Had fun reading? You’ll love to read our piece on bird poop coffee beans.
Doesn’t matter how high or low your metabolism is; you should never skip out on breakfast and take coffee as a breakfast alternative. Though we share the same enthusiasm and love for coffee, we cannot advise anything that can cause my coffeenomies any harm.
Make sure to keep your belly full, your body hydrated, and your mind ever fresh.
Drinking coffee on an empty stomach regularly can cause long-term unwanted symptoms of physical and mental issues. So it’s best not to drink coffee before having a decent breakfast.
If You Are Intermittent Fasting, It’s Better to Switch Caffeine With Water. But Suppose You Have a High Caffeine Tolerance. In That Case, It’s Safe to Consume Coffee Within the Recommended Amount (400 Milligrams of Caffeine, or Four Cups of Coffee for Healthy Adults per Day).
Your body has a natural sleep and wake cycle. When you drink coffee in the morning, the caffeine disrupts the natural cycle. Your body slowly gets dependent on caffeine to wake up instead of the natural process. So it’s best not to have coffee right after you wake up.
Cortisol can help you wake up and start to function. But when your brain gets introduced to a high amount of cortisol at an instant, you stay awake even when you need to sleep while constantly feeling exhausted.
After coffee consumption, the caffeine can kick in within 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your metabolism rate.