Get a Natural Energy Boost by Delaying Coffee Intake
Like 99.9% of the population, I’ve always relied on caffeine to get me going in the mornings. Until recently it was the only way to get me from confused and barely functioning, to focused and energized (and able to deal with people!). So many people are turning to coffee alternatives, but it can be tough to change our habits.
What if we told you that you’ll probably get more bang for your buck, from an energy perspective, if you wait 1-4 hours to drink coffee? If this sounds sacrilegious to you, I get it. But hear me out. Here’s what you need to know.
How Does Caffeine Work?
Caffeine works by blocking the body's ability to absorb the molecule adenosine, which is the cause of drowsiness. Researchers also found that caffeine causes neural excitation in the brain, which the pituitary gland perceives as an emergency and stimulates the adrenal glands to release adrenaline.
Cortisol and Epinephrine
Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone. We tend to see cortisol as a negative hormone as it is associated with the negative effects of stress and studies have shown that it contributes to abdominal fat. But it also serves important functions.
In the morning, cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) naturally spike after 30-45 mins of waking. This leads to us feeling energized and focused. Adding caffeine, which also increases adrenaline, is a waste as you are already getting that natural energy spike, and this can lead to bigger energy crashes. Which then makes you reach for another coffee. Waiting for your cortisol levels to die down before consuming caffeine (1-4 hours after waking) gives you a prolonged period of calmer energy, rather than a huge spike and crash. Over time, our body reduces natural cortisol production and builds a tolerance to caffeine which creates smaller and smaller rises in cortisol. This is why morning coffee drinkers usually end up consuming more coffee throughout the day just to keep boosting their cortisol and alertness levels.
Adding caffeine when your body is already high on cortisol can also cause jitters and anxiety according to the Huffington Post. “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],” explains Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, registered dietitian and author of “The Better Period Food Solution.” “You basically want the caffeine in the coffee to shine as a solo artist and not be influenced by the strong effects of cortisol.”
Acclaimed Stanford University neuroscientist and podcaster, Dr. Andrew Huberman recommends delaying coffee consumption for 1.5 to 2 hours after waking in order to maximize energy, reset your Circadian Rhythms, and improve sleep.
How Can we Change our Habits?
Changing habits can be difficult, especially when we don’t have a replacement habit. But you can hack your energy levels and naturally boost your levels of alertness, reset your circadian rhythms, and improve your sleep by following these simple steps:
1. Within 30 minutes of waking get some sunlight into your eyes. Getting early sunlight into the optic nerve signals to your body that it’s time to start the day. This helps to get your body accustomed to waking at the same time each day as well as boosting cortisol and alertness. The best way to do this is by going outside and exposing your eyes to direct sunlight for at least 5–10 minutes without wearing sunglasses (don’t look directly at the sun, obviously!).
2. Get at least 10–20 minutes of light exercise within the first hour of waking. This will boost dopamine levels and increase blood flow which also helps to boost your cortisol and natural energy levels. Yoga is a perfect way to add to this effect - according to Johns Hopkins, You may feel increased mental and physical energy and alertness, and fewer negative feelings after getting into a routine of practicing yoga.
3. Hydrate and add caffeine-free, natural supplements to establish a new routine. Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue, and replacing coffee with another habit will help you to stay on track. Powderful is the perfect complement to this routine with energizing mushrooms and calming adaptogens, mixed into water.
4. Consume your caffeine of choice 1-4 hours after waking. It may take some time to get used to your new routine, but monitor your energy levels throughout the day, and your sleep patterns at night.
After following these steps for one month, I definitely felt more stable energy levels, less fatigue, and more focus throughout the day. Using coffee alternatives to start your day is definitely the most important part for me, having that replacement habit while I got my day going helped me to push through without coffee…and I found the coffee tasted so much better when I had to wait for it. If you're interested in finding out more, check out the Andrew Huberman caffeine episode!
Let us know how it makes you feel! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or DM us @bepowderful