When The Best Time To Drink Coffee And When Not To Drink?

Cup of coffee with saucer and cupcakes in background

What you need to know about drinking coffee…

Like many of people out there, I’m also not much of a morning person and I’m looking for a bit of a caffeine boost to get the day rolling, usually just as I arrive at the office for work. But has it ever occurred to you when is the best time to drink coffee? Also how much should be drinking per day? Recently I did my bit of research to figure if I’ve been doing it all wrong when it comes drinking coffee, you’ll be surprised what I found…

Fact:  a cup of early ‘morning Joe’ increases caffeine tolerance

Most people will find this info very disappointing but it turns out that drinking coffee first thing in the morning is not such great idea. It actually dulls the energy-boosting feature of caffeine along with its effect and may even lead to increased tolerance of the stimulant.

Coffee consumption in the morning increases a person’s tolerance to caffeine because it replaces the natural cortisol-induced boost instead of adding to it and thus had a very little effect on a person’s alertness or productivity levels.

Here is a video that explains perfectly the role of cortisol and how it reacts with too much caffiene at the wrong time :

So what’s happening here is that usually, when you first get up out of bed, your first thought might be to get a caffeine ‘buzz’ into your system. However, there’s already an internal process occurring that’s working toward the same goal. When you get up, your body is producing high amounts of cortisol.

It is a stress hormone that makes you feel anywhere between alert to uneasy. So what you have is a counter-productive affect by the combination of caffeine with cortisol – so by this process it increases the levels of cortisol in people who are both mentally stressed and are simply relaxing; you could have a stream of cortisol at one time.

Some medical professionals or diet experts say that the combination could make you feel more worn out later on when both the cortisol and the caffeine wear off.

So what do you need to do?

There is no need to panic too much – you can still enjoy your coffee in the morning but you’ll need to make some adjustments.  So here are simple work-arounds which will work great for continuing to enjoy your coffee drinking.

1. Get a good nights sleep

This might seem a little obvious but the simplest way to feel more awake in the morning is to get more sleep the night before. The usual amount 7 to 8 hours sleep. Also, however, you might want to try drinking your first cup of coffee slightly later than you normally would.

2. No Coffee when you wake up

I personally have a hearty breakfast with NO coffee and usually wait at least 1 to 2 hours from arising before consuming – usually after travelling and getting into work. So it appears I’ve been doing that part correctly. It’s certainly is a relief for me personally – as I feel mentally sharper and switched on to start the day after making my first cup brewed from my French press.

So the reason you need have a full breakfast before drinking coffee is that there’s hydrochloric acid in our stomachs, which helps us in digesting our food. But when you drink coffee at that time, the hydrochloric acid production goes into overdrive, particularly when there’s no food in the stomach. If that happens frequently, the body may slowly lose interest in producing hydrochloric acid on its own. As a result, digestion slows down – no good. Best to eat something first and don’t upset your hydrochloric acid balance.

3. Avoid caffeine after 3 p.m.

You should not drink coffee in the evening. Caffeine can disrupt your sleep up to six hours after consuming it, leading to an hour or more lost in rest, one study found.

This can vary from person to person but people usually get worn out at night and go to bed around 9 p.m., drinking coffee after 3 p.m. and is seen as a bad idea. Some health experts recommend people stop drinking coffee as early as 2 p.m. I personally don’t have a problem with having coffee after 3pm in fact its normal for me to make a fresh cup around 3.30pm with some food – keeps me going for the rest of the working day.

Scientists have concluded that it’s best to drink a cup of coffee when cortisol naturally dips in the day, so you feel more alert during an energy slump. SO officially speaking the best time to drink coffee is between 10 a.m and 3pm.

So how many cups should you have and when?

Again it’s up to you and how you feel about drinking coffee later in the day or at night – such as making a record for example if you’re getting a better nights sleep by avoiding coffee 2 hours before bed. Make a note of these times and experiment to find your optimal level of coffee / caffeine intake. It’s that on average, the health benefits of coffee tend to be no more than 3 cups per day.