Coffee lovers typically have their own rituals related to how they enjoy their favourite beverage. For some, it’s the best way to get a strong boost early in the day. Others enjoy sipping on cup after cup of coffee as the day goes on, keeping themselves energetic and focused. And for some, there’s no better delight than a small cup of espresso after dinner. There are other considerations to make too, such as the effects of caffeine on an empty stomach. If you’re wondering when the best time to drink coffee is, and what the implications of drinking it through different times of the day are, read on.
A Great Way to Start the Day?
A cup of coffee can get you started early in the morning very nicely, but it can also introduce some unexpected problems if you’re not careful. You have to keep your cortisol levels in mind – drinking coffee too early in the day can be a little counterproductive due to the higher levels of cortisol most people typically have at that time. While cortisol itself also has a focusing effect, drinking coffee when you’re at your cortisol peak can make you jittery and unproductive.
Because of this, some experts recommend waiting an hour or two after waking up, which should give your body some time to “cool down” and lower your cortisol levels. At that time, your first cup of coffee should have the strongest possible effect, and will help you stay alert without any unpleasant side effects.
This varies greatly from one person to another though. Some find that drinking coffee as soon as they get up is in fact the best way to start the day. The important thing is that you do some careful observation to determine how your own body responds.
Should You Eat First?
Another important factor early in the morning is whether coffee on an empty stomach is bad for you. Again, your results may differ greatly from those of others, and you shouldn’t follow anyone’s opinion but your own. The main issue here is that coffee could irritate your stomach if it’s still empty, and this can give you an unpleasant, acidic feeling. Not everyone suffers from this, and it doesn’t seem to be related to your general susceptibility to stomach problems.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that coffee is an appetite suppressant, which can cause you to shift your breakfast schedule if you’re not careful. For some people, eating a good breakfast early in the day is important to keep them energetic until lunch. If you’re in that category, it may be better to wait until you’ve had breakfast before jumping on your first cup of coffee.
So, is coffee on an empty stomach bad? It’s highly individual, and something you need to figure out for yourself. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach works for some people, but it’s not worth the stomach issues if you’re not one of the lucky ones.
Considerations if You Work Out
Some use coffee to boost their workout performance, and it can be a great tool for that – if used in moderation. You shouldn’t overload yourself on caffeine before starting your workout routine, because this can make you feel nauseous and even physically sick. Too much coffee combined with an active workout session can also lead to a lack of concentration, repeated mistakes, and other issues that can degrade your performance.
If you want to reap the full advantages of coffee for your workouts, try giving yourself half an hour or so before starting the actual training session. Also, don’t drink too much coffee. As a general rule of thumb, try to stay at around half of what you would normally drink in the morning. This applies even if you haven’t had any coffee for the day yet. In fact, you should be even more careful in that case, as you may put yourself in an uncomfortable state with even less coffee than you might expect.
Try to Spread It Through a Busy Day
Drinking a lot of coffee during a busy day is a habit we’re all guilty of sometimes. But drinking too much can be counterproductive, as can drinking it at the wrong times. If you want to keep yourself focused without suffering any downsides, you should time your coffee cups through the day, and keep decreasing the quantity with each one. It doesn’t matter if you normally start the day with a low dose – you should still decrease it as the day goes by, and keep it low through the afternoon. Otherwise, you will likely find yourself unable to concentrate and too energetic late in the day. The effects of being in this state can add up over time if you aren’t careful, so pay attention to how much you’re drinking through those busy days.
Giving Yourself a Lift After a Long Day at Work
Sometimes you just need a little boost after finishing a long day of work. This is another great time to have a cup of coffee, and some people actually have their biggest cup for the day at that point. Just make sure that it won’t interfere with your dinner later on, and of course, that you can fall asleep in the evening. This depends on when you finish work and what your evening schedule looks like. If you can fit some sports into that period, it can be a great way to both relax your mind and shake off the effects of caffeine so that you can get a good night’s sleep. Not everyone is productive at the gym later in the day though, so don’t push yourself too hard.
Try Tracking Your Results for a While
A good way to know exactly what to expect from each cup of coffee is to approach the matter in a more scientific way. Don’t just rely on your gut feeling – no pun intended – but take some steps to measure your results and see how they evolve over time. Write down the exact time when you drink each cup of coffee every day, as well as the amount. Take notes of any changes in your behaviour that you think are related to drinking coffee at specific times. Later on, revise those results and see if you can identify any trends.
It can take a while before you start seeing any meaningful results in the data you’re capturing, but if you’re serious about your coffee habit, it will be well worth it in the end. This can really open your eyes to some potential issues in the way you’re handling your coffee drinking, and it can reveal the best time of the day to drink it for you specifically. Is it bad to drink coffee on an empty stomach? Should I wait until lunch before having my first cup? There are many questions that can come up here, and this can help you get the answers faster.
Drinking Coffee Before Sleep? It’s a Thing!
While most people associate coffee with waking up and getting ready for the day, some actually drink it before sleeping. This usually works best with a short nap and not before bedtime, although you’ll likely find some who do the latter and end up just fine. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys the occasional nap through the day, coffee can be a good way to get even more out of that nap.
Once again, timing and dosage are very important considerations here, and this is something you should measure over time for the best results. Try a small cup before a half-hour nap and go from there. The idea is that you probably won’t fall into deep sleep, and the coffee will start to kick in exactly as you get up. This will help you resume your day with a much more energetic attitude. It doesn’t work well for everyone though, so don’t be disappointed if you can’t fit it into your own daily schedule.
What to Do When You Get Those Cravings at the Wrong Time
Sometimes you just want a cup of coffee, even when you know it’s a bad idea. There are various ways to get around this issue that won’t leave you rolling around in bed all night long. Decaffeinated coffee is most people’s choice here, though some don’t enjoy it due to the noticeable change in taste. A cup of chocolate milk can also be a good substitute, and it can even help put you to sleep later in the day if you’re still excited from drinking too much coffee. Whatever you do though, don’t make it a habit to drink a cup of coffee at those wrong times. It will start messing with your sleep schedule eventually, and those effects will grow stronger over time.
Knowing when to drink coffee through the day is important for anyone who enjoys the beverage. It’s a highly individual thing, and there are many factors that can come in play here. If you’re a serious coffee lover, you should take some time to analyse how your own body responds to it at different times of the day, and maybe even try to make a schedule that you stick to as best as possible.