Spilling the Beans on Caffeine
Be Kind to Your Skin …From Within!
Tip #1: Never Have Caffeine On an Empty Stomach
For years I drank my morning latte in lieu of breakfast because I was either in a hurry or just didn’t feel hungry. I didn’t realize it but my beloved morning coffee was contributing to my anxiety and insomnia and hijacking my hormones, skin and metabolism in the process. But don’t worry, coffee doesn’t have to be the enemy! Read on to learn a simple strategy for avoiding the dark side of coffee without giving up your favorite cup of dark roast goodness.
One of the first tips I give new clients is to start their day in the following order:
- Drink 1-2 cups of purified water.
- Have a nutrient-dense meal, ideally something with protein, veggies and healthy fat (this doesn’t have to be a big meal; a couple of whole organic eggs scrambled with some greens or a smoothie with some greens, plant-based protein and nut/seed butter are good, quick options).
- AFTER you’ve eaten, drink your coffee or tea.
So why is having food before coffee so important?
Most of us know cortisol only as a “stress hormone” but it has many important functions in the body; one of which is to wake us up in the morning. Cortisol secretion typically begins when morning light hits our eyelids, and when we eat nutritious food containing protein and healthy fats it signals our adrenal glands that we’re awake and they can to stop pumping out that cortisol. But if we hit our system with caffeine or high-sugar/high-starch foods first thing in the morning, our cortisol production spikes and then crashes, setting us up for a roller coaster of cravings, and energy dips throughout the day, poor quality sleep, anxiety and weight gain.
By substituting coffee for breakfast you are essentially stressing your body out before your day has even begun, and if you’re not hungry in the morning, it’s likely that you have an increased stress response and will benefit even more from eating a nutritious breakfast. If you are struggling with adrenal issues, IBS, acid reflux, anxiety, depression or insomnia, you may be better off avoiding caffeine altogether.
The Coffee, Stress, Complexion Connection
Caffeine stimulates our adrenal glands and produces the same effect as stress, shock or fear. This time of year tends to be stressful in general, and if we are caffeinating all day long we are creating chronic internal stress in addition to the external stressors in our lives. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on your skin by inhibiting digestion, increasing inflammation, and promoting premature aging. If you throw in the dehydrating diuretic effects of caffeine, it can really sabotage your complexion, so if you’re investing in high quality skin care but are always stressed and dehydrated, you’re unlikely to see the results you want.
Here’s the good news coffee lovers!
You don’t have to give up coffee entirely – just be smarter about when and how often you drink it. This simple change is probably one of the smallest but most effective change my clients make and they often notice profound improvements in energy, sleep and cravings within a matter of days (sometimes longer, everyone is different), so give it a try and let us know what you think.
Jeannie Oliver is a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Personal Trainer and classically trained chef.