If you’re like most people in the world, chances are that you kick-start your day with coffee. Coffee is the top preferred drink for most Americans as per a study conducted by National Coffee Association.
While people consume coffee to get energized, few are aware of how to drink it for the optimal energy boost.
In this article, I will discuss the benefits and downsides of coffee, the connection between coffee and energy, and the best time to drink coffee for energy and productivity.
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Coffee Drinking: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
Coffee has several health benefits, such as boosting your mood, focus, physical performance, and weight loss. It contains nutrients like potassium, magnesium, niacin, and antioxidants like polyphenols, which help improves your brain health, heart health, digestive health, and support muscle function.
But the benefits of drinking coffee are dose-dependent. Drinking around 400mg or three to five cups of coffee is considered safe as per the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. If you’re a pregnant or a nursing mom, then the recommended daily dose is up to 200mg.
An overdose of coffee can be detrimental to your health with adverse side effects, such as the following:
- Rapid heart rate
- Spike in blood pressure
- Increased breathing rate
- Digestive issues
- Worsening symptoms of chronic conditions
Coffee enhances the dopamine effects in our bodies, making us happier, akin to a drug. When we depend on coffee to make us feel happier or function properly daily, then it’s a red flag indicating addiction.
If you’re addicted and miss out on coffee even for a day, it can trigger withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, tiredness, headaches, and body pain, which can last for up to a week.
If you have mental health issues, then drink coffee with caution as it can speed up mind-altering effects and increase stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia.
The Coffee-Energy Connection
It’s a common scenario for most people to have coffee in the morning and afternoon for an instant energy boost. What is it about coffee that really gives you the energy? Is it for real or mere perception?
Coffee’s energy-boosting superpowers can be attributed to one key element: Caffeine. It stimulates your nervous system, speeding the transmission of messages between your brain and body.
Caffeine is absorbed into your bloodstream and then your brain where it blocks adenosine, the inhibitory neurotransmitter that has a sedative or soothing effect, and increases the other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine, firing a blast of neurons that gives you the jolt and makes you alert.
You can feel the energetic effects of coffee within 30 minutes after its consumption. But remember that the energy spike is temporary and won’t last too long.
While coffee in moderation can be part of your healthy diet with its high level of antioxidants and mild stimulatory effect, it doesn’t supply energy in terms of calories unless it comes loaded with sugar and fat depending on the type of coffee beverage. The calories in black coffee are nearly nil.
Coffee vs. Other Energy Drinks
Coffee is undoubtedly the best energy-boosting drink as it’s delicious, cheap, convenient, and healthy when consumed right and in moderation. Most energy drinks have high sugar content or have artificial sweeteners that are best skipped in your diet and thus the risks far outweigh the benefits.
You can make coffee healthy with your choices. You can have your coffee black, lean, and with all-natural sugar options like stevia, and enjoy it in a variety of exciting flavors. Coffee can be a diuretic and add to your daily recommended fluids when consumed in moderation.
Coffee also sustains you longer than most energy drinks without adding to your daily caloric count. The interesting fact is that coffee contains the same caffeine amount as most energy drinks but packs in more punch than them. Most canned energy drinks contain 70-200mg of caffeine and an 8oz of drip coffee contains 110-150mg of caffeine.
Coffee doesn’t have any suspect ingredients that other energy drinks might contain. Compare coffee to most canned energy drinks with ingredients that you are not familiar with, can’t pronounce, or can do easily without, such as yerba mate, taurine, and ginseng. There’s no scientific evidence on how these ingredients in canned energy drinks contribute to your overall health. But there are proven scientific studies that show how coffee can be beneficial for those who have Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, or Dementia.
There’s no denying that nothing that tastes better than the all-natural coffee beverage, even when you have energy drinks that come with the fanciest names and packaging in comparison.
If you want to learn more about this, check out Coffee Vs Energy Drinks: Why Coffee Gives You A Better Boost.
When and How to Drink Coffee for Energy
Caffeine is a mild stimulant and when coffee is consumed in small to moderate doses, it can surely be a part of a healthy diet.
Here are our top suggestions to help you stay energized, sharper, and at your productive best all day long.
The Optimal Time to Have Coffee
The best time to drink coffee is in the morning until lunchtime. However, never drink coffee the first thing in the morning or on an empty stomach.
There are several reasons the morning to lunchtime window period is the best time to have coffee. One, you need a lot of focus and energy to kickstart your morning and get going with the most arduous tasks in the earlier part of the day. Coffee gives you the much-needed kick to get you right into action mode.
The second reason is that you need to have sufficient food like a hearty breakfast when you have coffee. It’s why you should never start your day with coffee on an empty stomach as it stimulates hydrochloric acid production, which is ideal for digesting meals. It makes it difficult to digest meals later, leading to weight gain and further depleting your energy levels.
Instead of starting your day with coffee, have a fruit, and then you can have your coffee along with or after a wholesome breakfast.
Coffee stays in your body for a long time. It’s why you should try to have your last cup ideally by lunchtime. At the most, you can stretch it to 3 PM or 4 PM if you have no sleep issues. As coffee blocks adenosine, the hormone that soothes you to sleep, you should avoid it several hours before your bedtime.
Since a good night’s sleep is connected with your energy levels, it’s crucial not to let your coffee consumption affect it.
Don’t Rush, Go Slow on Coffee
When it comes to coffee, slow is the way to go. Don’t rush drinking your coffee. Have it over a longer period to release the caffeine slowly into your bloodstream instead of bombarding your body all at once. This will also allow your body to clear the coffee out of your system slowly, giving you sustained energy throughout the day.
If you drink two cups of coffee per day, then wait for some time before having the second round.
Make sure not to over-caffeinate your body. Limit not just your coffee intake but also all caffeine foods as the extra energy comes at the expensive cost of your energy levels, motivation, focus, and productivity. Go slow on your overall caffeine consumption, including coffee.
Nourish and Hydrate Well
If you’re consuming three to four cups of coffee per day, you need to nourish and hydrate your body well. This helps your body digest the main meals better and gives you sustained energy without making your body crash hard.
Drink lots of water when you drink coffee regularly. While various studies have proven that coffee does not cause dehydration, coffee drinkers tend to compensate water with coffee and get dehydrated easily. Dehydration can lead to a continuous vicious cycle of depleted energy, lost focus, poor productivity, and sleep.
If you’re a healthy individual who follows a balanced diet and regular exercise routine, then you can have up to 400mg of caffeine daily or 16oz of coffee. But note that the caffeine content in a 16oz of coffee portion depends on the type of coffee you drink.
While you can enjoy a frappuccino occasionally, regular consumption of sugary and creamy coffee versions can spike your insulin levels, making you crash sooner and can also lead to weight gain and other chronic conditions.
Black or lean coffee made with skimmed milk and no sugar is your best bet. But always remember to nourish and hydrate well when you consume coffee regularly.
As long as you’re aware of the health benefits and potential negative effects of coffee and how to consume coffee correctly, you’re in a great place of renewed health, sustained energy, peak inspiration, and action.
Enjoy your daily cup of coffee as part of your healthy diet and thrive.
Featured photo credit: Caleb George via unsplash.com