5 things to do before drinking your morning coffee
If you’re one of those people who wakes up with dreams of a morning coffee, we’ve got some advice for you before you reach for that cuppa. While we’d never tell you to avoid a morning caffeine hit completely, there are a couple of things we recommend doing before reaching for that boosting beverage to improve its effect on your body.
Our in-house nutritionist, Gabi, says that “supporting your morning coffee routine with some smart practices can be a game changer for your overall well-being”, including making a huge difference in your digestion, stress and energy levels, and hormone balance.
Drinking coffee on an empty stomach triggers the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, so rather than reaching for your coffee first thing, try to hold on until breakfast. Though cortisol is essential to get us going in the morning, too much of it from that first coffee can lead to an over-stimulated release, resulting in an unwanted stress response. This can wreak a little havoc with our gut, hormones, adrenals, and leave us feeling less than chirpy.
Gabi, therefore, suggests a few strategic practices to add to your morning routine before gulping down your coffee to support your body and avoid that anxious stress response.
Your body dehydrates overnight, so before enjoying your morning brew, Gabi says that it’s important to drink a large glass of water (ideally at room temperature) to replenish hydration before coffee. Add a squeeze of lemon for extra healthy digestive points!
2. Load up on fibre and protein
As mentioned, coffee on an empty stomach can stimulate cortisol, which can spike blood sugar. “Elevated blood sugar can trigger inflammation and set us up to be on a blood sugar roller coaster for the rest of the day, thereby tanking our energy supply,” says Gabi. “But when we start the day with fibre from a whole food source, we can help to balance blood sugar.” She suggests having a chia bircher before your morning coffee, or a green breakfast bowl if you’re after something savoury. Both of these recipes contain about a third of your recommended daily intake of fibre.
In addition to fibre, protein is the other major nutrient that counterbalances a spike in blood sugar, so consuming some either before you drink coffee or with your coffee is ideal, according to Gabi, she recommends whipping up some eggs or adding a scoop of good quality protein powder into your morning smoothie if you’re on the run. “This can have a major benefit on better blood sugar balance by slowing the release of energy and can have a positive impact on your body’s stress and inflammation levels.”
While caffeine can be helpful for making tough workouts feel less difficult, “having your coffee before heading to the gym could make you anxious or shaky during your workout, which is not ideal if you’re lifting anything heavy!” says Gabi. Try to make it your post-workout treat, or just take a couple of sips if you feel you must have it prior. Or try going for a walk first thing, as your warm up for the gym, but also to help you fire up.
4. Wait 90 minutes after waking up
This is the ideal scenario according to Gabi because delaying caffeine for the first 90 minutes of waking (at least) allows for the best hormone balance. “Within the first hour of waking, our cortisol levels ideally acutely rise and fall in a response known as our cortisol awakening response. This rise and fall of cortisol represents a healthy nervous system and actually has a big influence on our immune health and even the risk of autoimmune development. Pausing on caffeine for the first 90 minutes (at least!) helps to promote the most balanced cortisol awakening response and can even better support our energy levels throughout the day.”
5. Get outside
If you’re reaching for caffeine first thing to help you feel more awake and alert, there is a better way to achieve both: “Getting natural light exposure within the first hour or so of waking is a great way to support optimal hormone balance,” says Gabi. The combo of walking and light, she says, is a win-win for hormones, energy, and overall health. “Morning light exposure is a huge regulator of circadian rhythm and light exposure triggers the healthy release of cortisol in the morning to support the body’s natural rhythm.”
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