Coffee as a morning “pick me up” is a nostalgic concept. The smell of a freshly brewed cup perks up your senses, and the taste of the hot beverage melts away the remnants of the night’s slumber. It’s a routine that millions of Americans participate in the morning after morning.

As popular as it is to drink a cup of joe first thing in the morning, it may not be the best thing to do on an empty stomach. Recent research has shown that it may be better to drink it after breakfast, not before. According to the research, drinking it before breakfast can harm blood glucose control.

A Study Done at the University of Bath

The University of Bath is in the United Kingdom. Researchers from the university’s Centre for Nutrition, Exercise & Metabolism conducted a study in which they analyzed the effects of drinking a cup of joe in the morning against several metabolic markers, particularly after a poor night of sleep. The results were published in the British Journal of Nutrition in October of 2020.

It’s a unique study because there hasn’t been any research into the effects of coffee consumption on glucose levels after a poor night of sleep. This study is the first of its kind and yielded remarkable results.

How They Conducted the Study

Twenty-nine adults of a similar age and BMI participated in the study. They underwent three oral glucose tests after separate nights of sleep. Each test was given one hour after they woke up.

The first one was from 11 pm to 7 am and was a night of uninterrupted sleep with no coffee the next morning. The second and third were the same hours but included a five-minute interruption during each hour of sleep. For the second test, participants did not drink coffee the next morning. For the third test, they drank some the next morning before the test.

The results were noticeably clear. Surprisingly, poor sleep quality didn’t affect the participants’ glucose levels. However, drinking a cup of joe yielded higher glucose levels in participants.

Thoughts on the Study

The study is the first done on this subject, so there obviously needs to be more studies done to verify this one. However, based on this study’s results, coffee may not be the best thing to drink first thing in the morning. Since it is a beverage that many people around the world drink during morning hours, this study could shed some insight into a potential global health problem.

While the average person may not be affected too much by the rise in glucose level, people with diabetes may need to be wary of this study. This is especially true for diabetics whose glucose levels are not under control.

Despite the implications, the hot beverage still has numerous benefits. After all, the study doesn’t suggest that people stop drinking it altogether, just that they shouldn’t drink it in the morning after a poor night’s sleep. The next section will highlight the benefits that you can gain from drinking the hot beverage.

Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Most people drink a cup of joe in the mornings because it helps them to wake up. Even if the study convinces you to drink it later in the day, you’ll still reap several benefits from it. Seven of these benefits are listed below.

1. You will enjoy increased energy levels.

Everyone knows that the biggest benefit of drinking the hot beverage is that it gives you a huge energy boost. It has caffeine, and caffeine is the most popular natural energy booster in the world. There are plenty of other foods and beverages with caffeine – green tea, yerba maté, chocolate – but none of them come close to the caffeine contents of coffee.

Keep in mind that caffeine isn’t a substitute for sleep. It simply stimulates your adenosine receptors.

Adenosine is a chemical compound that your brain produces while you’re awake. This chemical compound is essentially what tells your body when you’re tired. As it builds up through the day, you’ll feel yourself getting tired and sleepy.

Caffeine essentially mimics clogs up adenosine receptors, so the adenosine can’t get to them. It essentially tricks your body into thinking that you’re not tired. That’s why you must drink the hot beverage responsibly – because you still need to get some sleep eventually.

2. Coffee helps to burn fat.

If you ever take the time to go down the fat-burning supplements aisle, look at a few of the ingredients labels. You’ll see that most of them have caffeine. That’s because caffeine is excellent at helping you burn fat.

In fact, it’s been scientifically proven over and over again that caffeine helps you burn fat. One example is a study done by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They conducted a study to determine the effects of four cups of coffee daily on insulin levels. What they discovered was that participants experienced a modest loss of fat.

Researcher Derrick Alperet attributes the fat loss to the fact that caffeine boosts your metabolism.

3. It helps you focus and perform better.

Caffeine is a great cognitive booster. It sharpens your mind, improves your focus, and allows you to perform better mentally and physically. While the effects may only be temporary, this can come in handy in certain situations. Examples would be when you have a test, you’re trying to make it through the last hours of a work shift, or you’re doing an intense workout in the gym.

Just as you’ll find caffeine in fat-burning supplements, you’ll also find it in nootropics. These supplements are specifically designed to boost brainpower. It’s safe to say that caffeine is a total body enhancer.

4. It has beneficial nutrients.

The hot beverage has more than caffeine in it. It contains several beneficial nutrients. Some of them are electrolytes. While the amounts it contains are minuscule, drinking several cups of the hot beverage per day causes the amounts to add up to a number you can use.

The nutrients it contains, plus the amount of each per 100 ml of black coffee, are:

  • Sodium – trace amount
  • Niacin – 0.7mg
  • Manganese – 0.05mg
  • Potassium – 92mg
  • Magnesium – 8mg
  • Riboflavin – 0.01mg

The way you fix a cup of joe determines the total nutritional output. However, if you like your cup of joe black, at least you know you’re getting some nutritional benefit.

5. It helps lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

This may seem to contradict the study done at the University of Bath, but it’s not. The study was specific to people who had gotten a poor night of sleep. However, overall and in the long run, the hot beverage can help reduce type 2 diabetes risk.

This is because it increases metabolism, burns fat, and boosts energy. It essentially gives a person the tools they need to make lifestyle changes that will rid them of the disease.

6. Coffee can put you in a good mood.

There have been plenty of scientific studies that show that caffeine is a great mood booster. Although scientists and nutritionists haven’t pinpointed the exact method of how caffeine does this, they know it has something to do with the clogging of the adenosine receptors. When this happens, it somehow triggers dopamine production in your brain, which fights depression and enhances your mood.

There have also been studies into the combined effect of the consumption of caffeine with carbohydrates. There have been several studies that show that this combination has a positive effect on your mood. In fact, one study was done by researchers in the Health Psychology Research Unit, Department of Experimental Psychology, at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. They specifically studied the effects of caffeine paired with breakfast cereal. The results concluded that the combination put people in a better mood.

7. It has a lot of antioxidants.

A cup of joe may have a minuscule amount of nutrients, but it makes up for this with the incredible number of antioxidants it contains. In fact, there are around 1,000 different identified antioxidants in unroasted beans. There could be more, especially since scientists haven’t even identified all the antioxidants in nature.

One of the primary antioxidants found in a hot cup of joe is chlorogenic acid. This antioxidant helps to regulate glucose levels in the blood and liver. One cup of the hot beverage has around 200mg of chlorogenic acid.

Final Thoughts on Why You Should Drink Coffee After Breakfast, Not Before

No doubt, regularly drinking a hot cup of joe provides you with numerous health benefits. You could even go as far as saying that it can improve your quality of life. However, this study has found a small limit on caffeine benefits.

Keep in mind that the study negates any of the existing scientific evidence of how the hot beverage helps you. It’s simply showing that it may not be the best solution to wake you up if you’ve had a rough night of sleep. Plus, it’s one study, and there is plenty of room for more research into the topic. The biggest takeaway from this new research is this: keep enjoying your cups of joe in the morning, and if you have a night where you don’t sleep well, eat something beforehand.