Coffee alternates between being reviled and exalted for its health benefits. It’s loaded with antioxidants, gives a powerful energy boost and is a terrific appetite suppressant. As for its downside it can be quite hard on the stomach as it stimulates the release of stomach acids, which is why, if you are prone to acid reflux or heart burn your doctor may have recommended that you avoid the stuff. In my role as a health coach, I have recommended that people either cut back on or quit their coffee habit. However, I rarely make that recommendation anymore as the horrific stares coming my way after such a suggestion have caused me to find an alternative to giving up the coffee habit.
One of my biggest concerns with coffee is not that people drink it; rather it is that people drink it on an empty stomach. There is so much evidence out there that health and weight loss should be focused on creating a healthy hormone balance in the body and coffee assaulting your system with nothing to soften its punch is creating a hormonal roller coaster that is setting most people up for an energy crash and burn.
As you wake in the morning, it is likely that your body has not had any fuel for probably close to 10-12 hours, and is in dire need of some calories to start the metabolic fire for the day. When you go for coffee on an empty stomach, your system releases adrenaline, followed by cortisol, followed by a dip in your blood sugar. The adrenaline makes you feel energetic because it is part of the fight or flight system and prepares your body to take on all challenges, which feels pretty good as you contemplate your day. Cortisol is the stress hormone that starts a cascade of reactions including how your body stores fat (think belly fat). With nothing in your system since last night’s dinner, your blood sugar stores are low and can’t respond in a healthy way to this metabolic assault. Have you ever woken up, swallowed your coffee, and headed off to your day only to find that about an hour later feel like you need a nap? That’s the crash and burn.
As I learned from dirty looks and vicious sneers, I do not necessarily suggest that you give up your coffee, just introduce it to your body a little more gently. Drink a glass of water to rehydrate your system and then eat something with some protein. This will soften the blow of the caffeine. Some eggs, or almonds or leftovers from the night before will give your body something to use for energy that is more sustaining than a shot of adrenaline. Your hormones will thank you for this little kindness first thing in the morning!