The WORST Times To Drink Coffee

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By Janet Early

Coffee.

If just the sound of the word makes you feel all warm inside, yep – you’re definitely a coffee drinker. Many of us love the rich aroma, feel soothed by the smooth taste and enjoy a cup or two daily.

But… is it good for you? Or will it cause energy crashes, high blood pressure, insomnia and all of the other problems you hear about?

Well, the health community’s consensus on coffee is mixed. While professionals agree that caution with any caffeine source is important, scientific studies on coffee’s health impacts show that they are far less alarming than the effects of refined sugar or processed foods.

Still, you need to be on your guard, because there are certain times of the day when drinking coffee can be more harmful to your well-being than others. Becoming more savvy about the wrong and right times to indulge in your daily cup of joe will help you optimize your energy levels and keep your focus for the day at its best.

The Worst Times To Drink Coffee

1. First Thing In The Morning

A lot of people drink their first cup before 9am. It’s basically a cultural phenomenon in America to get out of bed and drink caffeine to jump-start your day. But you know what actually energizes you each morning? YOU do – naturally!

Your cortisol levels naturally peak between the hours of 8-9am – they will be higher at this time than at any other time during the day (for people with a normal sleep schedule). So, if you consume caffeine at the same time, your body will capitalize on its own energy stores and two things will happen:

  • Stress levels and feelings of jitteriness will increase – Caffeine cortisol + natural cortisol = too much cortisol – aka “The stress hormone” – meaning that, rather than energizing yourself, you will just end up stressing your body out.

  • You will develop a higher tolerance to caffeine – A higher tolerance means your body will require higher doses of caffeine in order reach the optimal energizing effects it needs. Pretty soon, one cup won’t do it for you, then two won’t and down the spiral you go.

A Better Alternative:

A more effective time to consume your first coffee is between 9:30 and 11:30am. Once the morning cortisol burst wears off, levels drops steadily until noon. If you want a cup of coffee in the morning, it’s best to drink it during this natural energy hiatus.

2. Lunch Time

For the same reasons above, it is counterproductive to drink coffee between 12 and 1pm. This is when your morning energy dip subsides and you benefit from a slight natural boost from your very own hormone levels.

A Better Alternative:

You cortisol levels will taper off again after 1pm – you may be familiar with that common sense of post-lunchtime drowsiness. This weariness can be amplified if you ate a big meal at lunch. It’s this time – between 1:30 and quitting time –  that a cup of coffee would benefit your energy levels.

The handy chart below from the blogI Love Coffee” cleverly maps out the times of day when it’s best to enjoy a mug-full of java.

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3. Directly After A Meal

Coffee with dessert has become an American staple, but coffee (like tea) inhibits the body’s absorption of iron.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking coffee with a meal or during the hour after the meal reduces iron absorption by 44%. This effect is even more prominent when the coffee contains sugar or milk.

People with iron-deficiency anemia should especially heed this warning.

A Better Alternative:

Try a hot maca drink after dinner instead. When blended with cacao and cinnamon, a hot maca tastes like a delicious earthy hot chocolate, with many benefits to boot, including increased energy levels, enhanced mood and improved libido.

Or try taking a walk for dessert! Chances are that after a little post-meal exercise, you won’t be reaching for any late-night sugary treats – another bonus!

  4. Within 3-4 Hours Of Bedtime

This one seems self-explanatory, but consuming caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime can contribute to nighttime restlessness, unsatisfactory sleep, or insomnia.

A Better Alternative:

A cup of decaffeinated herbal tea aids the transition of the body and mind from a busy day to a peaceful night. Passion root, lavender, chamomile and valerian root teas have calming powers, ideal for easing you toward a fulfilling night’s rest.

I hope you leave this article feeling positive! See, there are times when a cup of coffee can do a body good. It’s just important to be smart about it! Have any bomb coffee recipes? Please share below!

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Janet Early

Janet Early

Janet Early is a health enthusiast living in Los Angeles and working as a researcher for a major television company. An aspiring writer, Janet discovered her passion for wholesome nutrition and natural healing while navigating the struggles of balancing food sensitivities in a modern world. In addition to nutrition, she enjoys traveling, storytelling and embarking on daily adventures.
Janet Early
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