The Best Time To Drink Coffee (It’s Not What You Think)

1.4 billion cups of coffee sold daily around the world, 45% of in US alone! If your first thought in the morning is about the aromatic cup of coffee, you have to read this article till the end.

Your day starts with a quick walk to the kitchen to get the coffee going before you even brush your teeth. You know that you are able to count on that reliable shot of caffeine in order to rev you up and get read for the busy day ahead. If that sounds like you, this might surprise you, and even make you upset. Recent research shows that the early morning hours are not the optimum time of day for a caffeine boost and many people have been doing this “sacred” to many ritual WRONG. Learn when it’s the right time to drink coffee.

It all comes down to chronopharmacology, or how drugs (including caffeine) connect to our organic biologic rhythms. Internist and endocrinologist Joseph J. Pinzone, MD, CEO and medical director of Amai Medical & Wellness in Santa Monica and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Here’s what Dr. Pinzone thinks about this specific topic. And don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your cup of coffee. 

The Link Between Caffeine and Cortisol 

A main effect of caffeine is to trigger cortisol release which plays an important part in many bodily functions, including alertness and our response to stress. The more cortisol you have circulating inside your system, the more alert and awake you are feeling. Cortisol levels usually peak early in the morning (typically between 6 and 8am (depends on your sleep/wake cycle). “Your body doesn’t actually need the caffeine at that time because cortisol levels happen to be rising as you’re getting out of bed, said Dr. Pinzone.

So why do so many people crave coffee as their feet hit the ground? It’s more of a habit than anything else. People believe that it gives them energy but biochemically, the caffeine is redundant at that time and actually by consuming caffeine when it is not really needed, the body builds up tolerance to it. Not only that, you are also burning out your adrenals which regulates energy production and storage, immune function, heart rate, muscle tone, and other processes that enable you to cope with the stress. 

Cortisol levels do not remain consistent throughout the day though, it begins to drop between 9 and 11am. That’s why by 3-4pm many have very low energy and having a hard time focusing (the afternoon dip). Based upon these findings, the best time to consider coffee would be whenever cortisol levels are very low, about 3 to 4 hours after waking up. This would normally be around 10-11am for many. Perhaps it is no coincidence this is actually the usual time for a coffee break inside a normal work day.

Dr. Pinzone recommends for maximum energy-boosting effect, delay your first cup of java before midmorning cortisol slump begins to sap your endurance, typically at around 10am.

After that, instead of having an additional cup with lunch, wait around until your mid afternoon power dip, which for lots of people occurs at around 2-3pm. A cup of coffee then could help power through the rest of the workday.

Personally I enjoy my coffee :-). Not really for the energy effects but for its aroma and taste.

As for that evening energy drop, you are probably better off just letting it happen as it’s your body’s natural way of preparing for rest and sleep.  Caffeine at that time could interfere with your body clock and cause insomnia and many other health issues (if you do it regularly).

Power tip: Add L-Theanine and up to 2 tablespoons of grass fed butter into coffee and turn it into “smart coffee”. (L-theanine has no taste so it mixes into coffee without issue)

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