Drinking coffee in the morning is a momentous ritual for the modern man and can, in fact, dictate how your day will go by. Drinking coffee can enhance and regulate productivity, mood, appetite, well being and normal body functions or upset the balance of how your body works. How it’s going to affect you and your productivity and health is dictated primarily by when you choose to drink your morning coffee. Because, believe it or not, there is a right and a wrong time to drink coffee and scientific reasoning for why it’s good to drink coffee at certain times of the day.
Best and worst time to drink coffee. Say you wake up sometime between 6 or 7 a.m. You might not feel energized yet, but no worry, your body will start producing a hormone called cortisol to perk you up. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and it keeps you alert, making drinking coffee unnecessary until around 9:30 or 10 in the morning. What you should actually do in the meantime is eat a good breakfast to supply you with nutrients that will give you energy. After about 10 a.m. your cortisol levels start to decline and you may have your cup of coffee to further keep you alert.
At noon, from around 12 to 13 p.m., your cortisol production peaks again. There is a good reason for cortisol levels increasing at this time of day: our ancestors would have had to hide from wild animals when it was daylight and find food by foraging or hunting to sustain themselves, so they needed the alertness to do so. From about 1:30 to 5 p.m. you can enjoy a coffee if you haven’t had the chance to yet, after which the body produces the last bout of cortisol from about 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. This should last your until nightfall.
As the brain registers the approach of dark, it will start preparing for the second part of the sleep-wake cycle, the sleeping part, by producing melatonin, the sleep hormone. Thus, the pineal gland in your brain produces melatonin to induce sleep. And because sleep is pivotal for good immunity, DNA repair and provides protection against disease and important antioxidant effects, you should get your rest and avoid coffee in the evening.
Here are the best times to drink coffee during the day:
(8 a.m.-9 a.m.) You produce cortisol.
(9:30-11:30 a.m.) You may have coffee.
(12:30-13:30 p.m.) You produce cortisol.
(13:30-17:00 p.m.) You may have coffee.
(17:30-18:30 p.m.) You produce cortisol.
No more coffee for you.
What are the disadvantages of drinking coffee at the wrong time?
1) Increased risk of cardiovascular distress, heart attack. High cortisol levels occur naturally in the morning at around 8-9 a.m. Most people wake up earlier and already have coffee, often black or more than one cup, adding a strong stimulant to the alertness that comes naturally in the morning.
For those with existing cardiovascular conditions of the likes of hypertension, palpitations, extrasystoles, other forms of arrhythmia, history of heart attack or stroke, drinking coffee first thing in the morning can spark significant cardiovascular distress and worsen such conditions or encourage serious cardiovascular events. Over time, drinking coffee, especially early in the morning, can cause such conditions to develop, particularly in individuals with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.
The strong stimulating effect of coffee, the fact that most people prefer strong coffee, often drinking multiple cups a day, existing nutritional deficiencies (potassium and magnesium in particular), a high intake of sodium, excess weight, the diuretic effect of coffee that sparks a chain of adverse effects for the cardiovascular system, all encourage the onset of cardiovascular problems. Also read my 6 reasons why coffee is bad for you.
2) Nutritional deficiencies and dehydration. The first thing you should do in the morning is eat and drink water. Drinking coffee before breakfast causes dehydration and will impair the absorption of nutrients you take in from the breakfast you’ve postponed. Substituting a nutritious breakfast for coffee is even worse because it fully deprives you of essential nutrients you need to stay healthy and energized. And it’s likely you might not get those nutrients after all because a meal missed is often compensated by poor eating later on in the day.
3) Fatigue. Despite the initial bout of alertness, drinking a cup of coffee in the morning will not keep you energized and refreshed all day. As its effect wears off, you will start experiencing tiredness and lose your edge. Over time, this effect is magnified because coffee is known to limit the absorption of vitamins and minerals that give you actual energy. Drinking more coffee in response might create a tolerance to caffeine, amplify nutritional deficiencies and fatigue.
4) Bad for gastritis, stomach ulcers, acid reflux, IBS. Drinking coffee first thing in the morning is bad for you if you have existing digestive disorders. Coffee on an empty stomach worsens acid reflux, gastritis, ulcers and even irritable bowel syndrome. Discontinuing consumption for 3 months to allow the stomach lining to heal itself, avoiding strong coffee, not drinking coffee everyday or on an empty stomach are ways to enjoy coffee with minimum side effects.
5) Can promote irritability, insomnia, bad disposition. Drinking coffee later in the afternoon or in the evening disrupts normal circadian rhythms by inducing alertness and competing with the effects of melatonin, the sleep hormone. This can result in insomnia, headaches, irritability, decreased productivity, brain fog and an overall bad disposition with the potential to augment the symptoms of existing mental disorders.
So what is the best time to drink coffee? Coffee is best drank at leisure, on a full stomach, after breakfast and before lunch or sometime in the afternoon, before 5 p.m. Drinking coffee first thing in the morning is bad for you because that’s when your body is secreting high amounts of a hormone called cortisol that is naturally stimulant. Also, drinking coffee first thing in the morning before eating is bad for your heart and stomach, especially you are already dealing with hypertension, acid reflux or gastritis.