Wait — Is Drinking Coffee On An Empty Stomach Detrimental To Your Health?

Recently, I’ve been getting a number of pointed texts and TikToks from my fiancé telling me to stop drinking coffee on an empty stomach. 

For the past four years, I’ve woken up early in the morning and sat down with my morning cup of black coffee before I start my day. I practice intermittent fasting, so black coffee usually ‘replaces’ my breakfast (however, I do make up the calories later in the day). 

But after he sent me the twelfth video about how detrimental my little cup (okay, three cups, but who’s counting?) of coffee is, I decided to do the research to see if drinking coffee on an empty stomach was actually as terrible for your health as people were saying. Spoiler alert: it may be.

The Dangers of Coffee

There aren’t many people I know who can go a day without their coffee. Whether they rely on the classic black coffee or would rather have a holiday-inspired Starbucks drink, people need their coffee. And if everyone’s drinking it, can it be so bad? Apparently yes, it can. 

In general, coffee isn’t the best thing you can put in your stomach; it’s proven to stimulate the production of stomach acid. Because of this, coffee often worsens symptoms of IBS, heartburn, ulcers, nausea, acid reflux, and indigestion. 

Many people who struggle with regulating their hormones are often told to cut out coffee until they heal.

Coffee is linked to rising levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that is “produced by your adrenal glands and helps regulate metabolism, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.” If you don’t keep your cortisol levels down, you might suffer from health problems such as blood loss, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart issues. 

Drinking coffee regularly and on an empty stomach can cause your cortisol levels to rise faster than if you don’t drink coffee regularly, but this is an issue for all coffee drinkers

While you might depend on your morning cup of joe to give you a boost of energy, you also don’t necessarily want to be shaking in your boots once you’ve had your coffee. If coffee is the only thing that’s in your system, you will probably quite literally be shaking and jittery, causing your stress and anxiety to rise as well. 

Dr. Marvin Singh, MD suggests drinking a half-caf coffee if you love the taste and slowing down while you drink it. Take your time with your morning coffee and savor the moments of quiet. He suggests taking up to an hour to finish one cup. While that might seem impossible to some of us, give slower drinking a try and see if it helps your health.

When Should I Drink Coffee?

As stated above, drinking coffee first thing in the morning doesn’t necessarily add to any of the health issues that coffee in and of itself can produce, but it also doesn’t help. If you’re wondering when the optimal time to drink coffee is, experts suggest drinking it in the late morning and after you’ve enjoyed a protein-heavy breakfast. 

Your cortisol levels peak around seven in the morning, so they ought to give you enough of a natural energy boost to get you through the morning and you can enjoy your cup of caffeine when you feel that natural boost start to sputter out. 

Dr. Singh suggests that you stop your coffee consumption after 2 pm, just to avoid any sleepless nights.  

How Important is This?

If you’ve been drinking coffee every morning on an empty stomach for years now and haven’t noticed any of the issues outlined above, you might be fine. 

While I’m not a doctor, everyone’s body is different and reacts differently to substances. Replacing any meal with coffee isn’t a brilliant idea, but it also won’t kill you if you continue to consume coffee the way you have been. Just keep in mind the negative symptoms that coffee can create, and make sure to bring it up with your doctors if you feel like you might not be doing well. 

But in the end, I will stick to my morning cup of coffee and face the consequences later.


Do you drink coffee on an empty stomach? Are you still going to after this? Comment below (no judgment, I will too). 

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