Coffee & Cortisol: Why You Shouldn't Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach
Updated: Sep 30
Coffee & Cortisol
Cortisol is a hormone produced and released by the adrenal glands, and helps the body regulate its response to different stressors. It affects almost every organ in the body, and regulates metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, blood sugar, and sleep-wake cycles. Typically, people have low levels of cortisol in the evening at bedtime, and peak levels right before waking up in the morning.
Upon waking, our bodies are on E ⛽️. We are dehydrated, have not eaten in 8+ hours, and our cortisol is at its peak. Making a mad dash for the coffee machine seems like a great idea, but I am here, as always, to rain on your parade 🙃. Drinking caffeine first thing in the morning, when cortisol is at its highest, blunts the hormones production and shifts the timing of our typical cortisol cycle throughout the day. This causes us to produce more cortisol at times when it should be dropping (like at bedtime). Studies have shown that consuming caffeine when cortisol is high can actually cause you to produce MORE cortisol… cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. We don’t want this.
Drink coffee after breakfast around 9:30am and before noon. Your cortisol is lower at this time, and you will actually get more of an energy boost while doing less destruction to your natural release of cortisol.
When you wake up, drink *at least* a few glasses of room temperature water to rehydrate from sleeping, and warm water with lemon to jump start the metabolism.
Eat a protein-rich breakfast with healthy fats to balance blood sugar. Adding in calcium-rich foods like yogurt, almonds, spinach, kale, and chia seeds will help to neutralize acidity in the stomach caused by your upcoming first cup of coffee. Add collagen to your coffee for extra protein.
Take a high-quality adaptogen. These are unique herbs that help your body adapt to stress and can either energize you or calm you down, depending on what your nervous system is up to.
Visit my online herbal and supplement dispensary for high quality collagen and adaptogenic herbs.
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Dr. Charlotte Morgan, D.Ac.
Lovallo, W. R., Whitsett, T. L., al'Absi, M., Sung, B. H., Vincent, A. S., & Wilson, M. F. (2005). Caffeine stimulation of cortisol secretion across the waking hours in relation to caffeine intake levels. Psychosomatic medicine, 67(5), 734–739. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.psy.0000181270.20036.06