Coffee is the backbone of the American workforce, powering more than 100million people every week.
Seven in ten Americans are hooked on the drug and many couldn’t live without it. Yet, most of us rarely give thought to when we drink it, instead grasping for the drink as a pick-me-up when we feel tired.
But studies show there is a science to how and when we should take the stimulant.
Most have their first cup of Joe within minutes of waking up, or as soon as they get to their desk. But the best time to drink coffee for most is actually between 9.30am and 11am.
Studies show cortisol levels — the main stress hormone — are high when we wake up, and that having a coffee that early boosts these even more, leaving us at risk of unnecessary jitters.
Former US President George W. Bush used to drink about 10 cups to get through the day, while Virgin mogul Richard Branson once claimed he would drink twenty cups.
Many people know this is already far too much, but according to recent research involving 500,000 people three cups appear to be the sweet spot for reaping the best benefits.
Another study from 2015 showed consuming five cups was optimal for living a longer life, while one from March this year suggested two cups were best. Somewhere in between is likely best for reaping the rewards.
A wealth of studies show coffee boosts exercise, with effects being so strong that high doses of caffeine were previously banned at all sporting events including the Olympics. The drink is now under monitoring.
But drinking coffee daily leads to tolerance, with people now missing out on the benefits of coffee. To counteract this, some suggest going ‘cold turkey’ for a week a month.
Shown above is a graph from a 2009 paper on how cortisol levels change throughout the day. Cortisol is the body’s stress and alert chemical, helping us wake up when it comes to high levels. Because the hormone’s release is also triggered by caffeine, many experts suggest only drinking coffee when its levels are lower – such as between 9.30 and 11am
First cup from 9.30am
Many people reach for a coffee as soon as they climb out of bed or the moment they walk into the office.
But experts recommend holding off on that morning Joe until from 9.30am to 11am in order to reap the top energizing benefits and avoid the jitters.
Early in the morning levels of cortisol — the main stress hormone — are highest to trigger waking up, and then gradually drop throughout the day.
The caffeine in coffee triggers more of this hormone to be released, behind the drink making people feel more alert and not tired.
But drinking it when levels are already high can trigger stress and anxiety, and also does not halt a drop-off later on curbing coffee’s energizing effects.
Just HALF a cup of coffee per day during pregnancy can knock nearly an inch off a child’s height
Drinking just half a cup of coffee per day during pregnancy can knock nearly an inch off a child’s height, an official study suggested last month.
Minors born to women who consumed 50mg of caffeine each day were 2cm (0.8in) smaller than their peers by the age of eight.
The finding remained even after adjusting for other factors that affect a child’s height — including their mother’s age, smoking status and income.
Researchers say the results — based on an analysis of 2,500 boys and girls across the US — show expectant mothers should abstain from coffee entirely.
Current US guidelines recommend pregnant women limit their daily intake to about 200mg. The average 8oz coffee contains about 100mg of caffeine.
Caffeine is thought to constrict blood vessels in the womb and placenta, which could reduce the blood supply to the fetus and stunt growth.
The study is the first of its kind to use blood tests to measure pregnant women’s caffeine intake rather than surveys, which are less reliable.
The results were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Studies dating back to 2009 show cortisol levels are highest in the morning and dropped throughout the day, with two major dips between 9.30am to 11am and 1pm to 5pm.
Amanda Maucere, a sports nutritionist in Florida, previously told health website Well and Good: ‘Although there hasn’t been much research done in humans on the interplay between coffee, cortisol, and the circadian rhythm, we know enough about each one separately to suggest that waiting a little bit before having that first cup of coffee in the morning is a good idea.’
She added: ‘Although helpful for “waking up”, elevated levels of cortisol are also found in times of stress to be harmful.
‘So, if you combine an already elevated cortisol with an additional spike from coffee, you create an unnecessary stress response in the body.
‘This response would be mitigated by waiting an hour or so before enjoying your morning cup of joe.’
Another paper from 2011 suggested that drinking coffee early in the morning can also change the body’s hormone system.
Instead of releasing cortisol early, the body relies on a caffeine kick to trigger the release — leading to dependence.
Getting hooked on coffee can cause migraines and fatigue.
About 30 minutes before exercise
Mountains of studies show caffeine is a powerful work out supplement that can help you lift heavier weights and run further and faster.
But, what is the best time to consume coffee before hitting the gym?
A review of dozens of studies by the US-based International Society of Spots Nutrition found that athletes would reap the most benefits if they drunk coffee 30 minutes to an hour before starting exercise.
A multitude of smaller papers have also picked up a link between taking caffeine before exercise and improved performance.
A 2020 paper which tested consuming caffeine two hours, one hour and 30 minutes before beginning exercise. It found that the one-hour mark and 30 minutes led to the best performance.
Another from 2016 involving seven cyclists found those who drunk coffee before working out were able to keep going 12 per cent longer than those who did not.
In a third small-scale study, twelve participants doing five sets of bench presses in a row those who consumed caffeine were found to have significantly improved force and power output, a 2020 study found.
Caffeine boosts exercise by raising levels of adrenaline — the body’s fight or flight hormone.
Studies show the drug also stimulates more nerves and can raise the temperature of muscles, improving exercise performance.
Weight-loss drug makes people repulsed by favorite drink… including coffee
The groundbreaking weight-loss drug Wegovy is causing users to hate the taste of their favorite treats.
Americans prescribed the once-a-week injection say they have become suddenly repulsed by coffee and certain candies and fast food.
Wegovy and its sister drug Ozempic, which both use the active drug semaglutide, work by replicating hormones that tell the brain it is full.
These hormones are meant to make a person feel full and reduce cravings. But for people like Staci Rice, 40, of Georgia, they have ruined some of their simple pleasures in life.
Ms Rice had been a daily coffee drinker since seventh grade before using Wegovy to lose 50 pounds in six months. Now she cannot keep a cup down.
She told Insider two of her past favorite treats, a fried-chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A and Kit-Kat bars have also become repulsive to her.
Kait Morris, a TikToker with over 6,000 followers, said that she could no longer eat a full plate of food and only wanted smoothies after using the drug.
Reddit users on a forum dedicated to discussing the drug also complain of not being able to eat their favorite snacks anymore, with one even saying that all food tastes ‘yuck’ now.
Experts these taste distortions occur because the drug alters the brain’s ability to tell what is going into a person’s mouth – causing a taste disorder called dysgeusia.
The condition causes certain food and drink to seem sweet, sour, bitter, or metallic.
Wegovy has become a highly-sought after drug since it first became available in the US last year. It showed the ability to drop a person’s body weight by around 15 per cent over 68 weeks in clinical trials.
Famous users include Elon Musk, who credited Wegovy for his body transformation on Twitter. Kim Kardashian is also rumored to have used the injections.
Three cups a day is best
People should drink about three cups of coffee a day to live longer and avoid strokes and heart attacks, major studies have suggested.
A 2022 paper involving 500,000 Britons about 56 years old found this many cups was linked to a 12 per cent lower risk of death, 17 per cent reduction in heart disease and 21 per cent lower stroke risk.
For comparison, people who drunk no coffee or more than three cups a day did not reap the same benefits the scientists said.
Several other studies have also suggested this link, including a 2021 paper presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress.
But a UK-Government backed paper from 2015 found drinking five cups of coffee a day helped people live longer. Another from March this year suggested only two cups of coffee a day were needed to cut the risk of heart disease and an early death.
There is no cast iron consensus on how much coffee to drink a day, but going above five cups can lead to insomnia, headaches, dizziness and anxiety.
At the other end of the scale drinking too little can deprive people of the touted health benefits.
Scientists say that coffee helps people live longer and avoid heart problems because of the antioxidants contained in the drink.
These reduce inflammation, boost the metabolism, block receptors that can trigger uneven heart rhythms and inhibit the absorption of fats.
Take a week off a month for best effects
Research has suggested that overtime the body builds up a tolerance of caffeine, leading some experts to suggest taking a break from the drink.
Some small-scale studies have found exercise improvements for cyclists wore off within two weeks after they drunk coffee continuously, according to a study from 2020, while a 2009 paper suggested improvements in alertness dropped off in just three days.
Former researcher at Los Angeles-based coffee information service Coffee Chemistry Joseph Rivera suggested previously it was worth cutting down consumption for about a week a month.
He said taking down intake by half for a few days, and then halving that again for a few more days.
‘After about a week you should be pretty much back to where you were without drinking caffeine,’ he told The Cut.
The jury is still out, however, on whether it is necessary to cut back on caffeine consumption to combat tolerance.
A meta-analysis of more than 60 studies found caffeine remained effective in athletes for endurance, power and strength even when it was taken regularly.
Another analysis involving dozens of studies found no link between drinking coffee every day and declining performance in athletes.
Overtime the body becomes more resistant to caffeine and its fatigue-easing effects. This may be because over time it leads to more receptors for adenosine — behind tiredness — in the brain, reducing the drug’s ability to limit these and ease tiredness.
Avoid from six hours before bed
If you’re flagging at work in the afternoon you might be tempted to opt for a tea, which contains about a quarter of the caffeine in coffee.
While this might power you through to the end of your shift, it can also make sleeping that night harder. The reason is too much caffeine disrupts sleep by blocking receptors for the hormone adenosine and melatonin.
Six hours before bed is the optimal time to cut off caffeine, or 4pm for those who try to sleep at 10pm.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says these effects should ease within four to six hours.
But some papers — including one from 2013 — suggest you may need to cut off the drug even earlier to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Dr Dierdre Conroy, a sleep expert at Michigan University, recommends stopping drinking coffee eight hours before bed.
For those with a 10pm bedtime, that means no coffee after 2pm.
She said: ‘People have very different sensitivities to caffeine and people who consume caffeine more often might respond differently to those who don’t drink it at all.
‘But in general, our guideline is eight hours before going to bed, you should eliminate all caffeinated products.’
A meta-analysis from 2017 found drinking coffee too late in the evening disrupts slow-wave sleep — the most restful period — and reduces total sleep time.
Not getting enough sleep has been linked to a whole host of health issues including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone gets eight hours of sleep a night, but polls suggest one in three adults don’t make this threshold.
During a business meeting
Some experts also suggest drinking coffee during a business meeting can boost alertness and engagement in the subject.
Few studies have looked into this, but a 2018 study involving 134 students found those who drunk coffee together just before a meeting on a protest movement rated themselves as being more alert and were more willing to do the meeting again.
They were compared against a similar-sized group who only drunk decaffinated coffee before a meeting.
Scientists suggested this showed that coffee was having the greatest benefit during a meeting, while others point to this time due to evidence that the best time to have a cup is from 9.30am — when many meetings take place.
There are also signs that drinking coffee over a meeting leads to an improved relationship between participants, making it more productive.
Polls have shown that more than two thirds of professionals prefer to meet in-person over a coffee, rather than through other methods such as virtually.
Some suggest — however — that people should avoid having a coffee before giving an important presentation.
Levels of adrenaline — the ‘fight or flight’ hormone — are already high just beforehand, with coffee only raising those levels further.
LinkedIn experts say, therefore, that coffee may be the ‘least useful thing’ to have before a meeting.
Nashville-based technology enterpreneur Jason Baxter said: ‘I feel very passionate about relationships and feel strongly that a great starting point can be had over a good cup of coffee.’
The Christmas coffees that’ll give you a gut like Santa’s: Festive drinks at Dunkin’ and Starbucks contain up to 1,200 calories and 14 TIMES more sugar than a donut
They are meant to be a treat around Christmas time, but some festive coffees definitely deserve to be on the naughty list.
DailyMail.com considered festive holiday drinks from the largest coffee sellers in the US, including Dunkin’, Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Peet’s, Pret a Manger, and McDonald’s
The worst offender is the Peppermint Mocha Swirl Frozen Coffee with cream from Dunkin’. A large serving packs a whopping 1,170 calories, about half of the entire recommended daily allowance for adults.
It also contains 40 grams of fat and 182 total grams of sugar, about four and 14 times the amount in a glazed donut, respectively. Krispy Kreme’s autumnal Frozen Pumpkin Spice Latte on the menu packs the second-worst punch.
The nutritional information resembles a sundae more than a coffee. A 20-ounce serving contains 680 calories, 22 grams of fat, and a staggering 101 grams of sugar. Compare that to a regular size McDonald’s McFlurry ice cream with Oreos, which packs 510 calories, 16 grams of fat, and a more modest 60 grams of sugar.
The sky-high sugar content in these drinks is a far cry from the maximum amount that experts say is healthy to consume on a daily basis.
The American Heart Association advises men to consume no more than nine teaspoons or 36 grams of added sugar per day. Women should stick to no more than six teaspoons or 25 grams per day.
Sugary drinks are also key drivers of hypertension and diabetes. Regular consumers of sugary drinks are at markedly higher risk – 26 per cent, in fact – of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people who rarely have them.
Joan Salge Blake, a nutrition professor at Boston University told DailyMail.com: ‘Many of these designer coffees are loaded with added sugars and saturated fat so [they] resemble a dessert, not a coffee.’
Major coffeee chains feature highly caloric holiday drinks on their menus, with Dunkin’ taking the top spot. While coffee itself is not unhealthy – in fact it packs a lot of nutritional benefits – the sky-high sugar content in these drinks essentially cancels out the good side.
The worst offenders are packed with empty calories and high amounts of sugars and fats. Despite the calorie count, sugary drinks are not satisfying and often lead to more eating.
Most holiday beverages from major coffee purveyors were considerably less caloric than Dunkin’s frozen concoction. But each contains hundreds of empty calories and eye-popping sugar content.
Pret a Manger’s Caramel Apple Crisp Hot Chocolate packs 510 calories, seven grams of fat, and 79 grams of sugar, more than double the amount in the blueberry muffin on the menu.
A large, or venti, Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks contains 550 calories and 19 grams of fat. It also packs 88 grams of sugar.
But coffee can be healthy!
Scientific studies into the health effects of coffee are being done all the time and have, in the past, claimed the drink brings fairly big health benefits.
Reduces early death risk
Research by the National Cancer Institute in the US last year found people who drink six or seven cups of coffee each day were 16 per cent less likely to die from disease within a 10-year period than those who didn’t.
Less likely to get depression
Another study, done by the Harvard School of Public Health, found that women who drank four or more cups of coffee per day were 20 per cent less likely to suffer from depression.
Women have higher pain threshold
British scientists at Goldsmiths, University of London, found women who drank coffee – 250mg of caffeine, to be precise – tended to have a higher pain threshold than those who didn’t.
Lower type 2 diabetes
The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee last year said it had trawled through nearly 30 studies of almost 1.2million people to find drinking three or four cups of coffee each day could slash the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 27 per cent.
For comparison, the Glazed Pumpkin Spice Cake Doughnut from Krispy Kreme comes in at 290 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 25 grams of sugar.
The San Francisco-based Peet’s Coffee serves a Peppermint Mocha Latte, a seasonal staple at major coffee chains, that contains 620 calories, 25 grams of fat, and 75 grams of sugar.
A McDonald’s drink packed the mildest punch of the six worst offenders across major chains. A large Peppermint Mocha Latte contains 430 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 58 grams of sugar.
DailyMail.com reached out for comment from the six major chains but they have not responded.
Many people are willing to turn a blind eye to their drinks’ staggering health stats. Holidays are not conducive to dieting and it can be tricky to maintain healthy eating habits when treats are ubiquitous.
Sugary drinks are major drivers of weight gain because they are extremely dense in empty calories that don’t fill you up sufficiently and lack nutritional benefits.
The more ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages a person has, the more calories they’re likely to take in later in the day.
Sweet beverages like Starbuck’s peppermint mocha can also stimulate the appetite for other sugary, high-carbohydrate foods.
Excessive sugar intake is also linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, tooth decay and cavities, cognitive problems, hypertension, kidney disease, liver disease, and pancreatic cancer.
A 2009 study of nearly 89,000 women found those who drank more than two servings of a sugary beverage each day had a 40 per cent higher risk of heart attacks or death from heart disease.
But the drinks aren’t all bad. With some slight alterations to the added sweeteners and the type of dairy used, they can become slightly more nutritious.
Coffee itself contains almost no calories. And it also comes with myriad health benefits including increased longevity. Coffee contains natural antioxidants that help bolster the body’s ability to fight off infection.
It has also been proven to help ward off heart failure, with drinkers of two cups showing a 30 per cent decreased risk of experiencing a cardiac event.
Regular and decaf coffee also have a protective effect on the liver. People who drink coffee are also less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s, research suggests.
Professor Salge Blake said: ‘Plain coffee does provide antioxidants and is the beverage of choice for many early risers.
‘When you add skim or low fat daily milk to plain coffee, you will get calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, three nutrients that many Americans are falling short of in their diets. However, I would treat these designer coffees as dessert and keep them to small amounts.’
Eliminating festive holiday drinks altogether is not necessary. Like every unhealthy food such as sweets and chips, moderation is key.
There are also ways to shave some of the extra calories and sugars from your favorite drinks. Boston-based nutritionist Lainey Younkin recommends choosing a dairy product with lots of protein, ‘like cow’s milk, with 8 grams of protein per cup, or soy milk, with 6 grams of protein per cup.’
‘Protein helps slow the spike of blood sugar and keep you full longer. It’s difficult for most people to get enough protein at breakfast so choosing a latte over black coffee could help you reach your morning protein goals,’ she added.
While it sounds counterintuitive, Younkin recommends ordering two per cent milk rather than non-fat milk, noting that fat moves slowly through the digestive tract and, when combined with the protein in the milk, will keep you full longer and prevent carb cravings later on. Finally, opt for sugar-free syrup or a smaller amount of regular syrup.
‘Slashing some of the syrups and choosing a milk with protein and a little fat will health-ify your holiday bevies so you can have your mocha and your holiday cookies too!’ Ms Younkin said.