Photo: Shutterstock/Nick Starichenko
For most of us, getting our a.m. coffee fix is an absolute necessity. After all, there’s no better alarm clock than a warm mug of our favorite brew (try Taste of Home’s brand-new coffee line!). And you don’t even have to feel guilty about your daily habit; drinking coffee has tons of health benefits, such as protecting your brain from dementia. In fact, here’s exactly what happens to your body when you drink coffee daily. Although there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing your daily java fix, you should be wary of drinking it on an empty stomach.
Why? For starters, coffee can take a serious toll on your digestive system. All that java will jumpstart the stomach’s production of acid, and if you haven’t already eaten something, the acid could damage your stomach’s lining and cause indigestion and heartburn. That goes for decaffeinated coffee, too.
But that’s not the only risk. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach “can give you jitters, shakes, and other withdrawal effects, including mood changes,” Dr. Adam Simon, chief medical officer at PushDoctor.co.uk, told Express. It can also increase symptoms of anxiety, as well as boost your heart rate, irritability, and inability to focus.
What’s more, sipping a cup of Joe first thing in the morning actually sabotages your circadian rhythm. Here’s what we mean: Your internal clock releases a hormone called cortisol when you wake up, making you feel alert and energized. Yet contrary to what you might expect, research has shown that consuming coffee actually decreases your cortisol levels. Translation? More often than not, that early morning pick-me-up will backfire, causing you to feel sleepier. Try brewing a cup of joe at the best time of day to drink coffee, instead.
Of course, some people have consumed coffee on an empty stomach for years and felt completely fine. If that applies to you, then by all means, continue drinking! But for everyone else, certified dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, recommends pairing your caffeine fix with a hearty breakfast—or at least a snack if your tummy isn’t rumbling. We suggest these 27 healthy breakfast ideas to get you started.