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One Major Side Effect of Drinking Your Coffee Before Breakfast, Expert Says

Waiting just a lil' while before your caffeine fix can help sustain the energizing magic of your coffee.

Coffee lovers know there are so many reasons to hold the wildly beloved beverage close: The taste, the comforting ritual, even coffee's benefits for your hair. If chief among your reasons for loving coffee is the turbo charge it gives your wake-up each morning, you may want to take a slight pause. That's according to a registered dietitian, who says if you actually want to get the most out of your daily caffeine dose, there's a prime-time window that delivers the biggest benefit.

Huffington Post says that while so many of us are in the habit of pouring a cup of coffee immediately upon wakeup, waiting just a little while both prevents the anxiety and mood swing that some coffee drinkers experience, and sustains the energizing effect for longer into your morning.

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Here's how it works: For some coffee drinkers, that dreaded sense of anxiety may be the result of your trusty caffeine clashing with cortisol—a hormone that's triggered when the body experiences stress. According to this report, cortisol actually combines with adrenaline to provide an advantageous jolt of energy about 30 to 45 minutes after we wake up. Some experts consider this part of the body's natural means of shaking awake.

According to insight from Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a registered dietitian and author of The Better Period Food Solution, there's a more ideal window to drink coffee: It's after you've allowed this effect to wear off. "There is some science behind isolating caffeine and peak cortisol so they don't go head to head and have negative compounded effects in the body [like the jitters]," Beckerman said. "You basically want the caffeine in the coffee to shine as a solo artist and not be influenced by the strong effects of cortisol."

She explains that thanks to cortisol, your alertness and focus tend to peak 30-45 minutes after you wake up. So, waiting about an hour after you wake up to drink your coffee may "allow cortisol to mellow out" and give you the "true caffeine buzz," Beckerman said.

It's just a bit of critical coffee thinking… but if you really aren't trying to wait for that caffeine sensation, another good tip is to be sure to hydrate before having your coffee. That's because the body loses around a liter of water while you sleep, and coffee is a diuretic that draws water out of the body even more.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy
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