What Happens To Your Body When You Drink Coffee Before Eating

Your morning alarm rings and you stumble out of bed straight to the coffee maker. Morning coffee: It's comforting, it's warm, and it's routine. Not so fast, say the experts. When you begin your day with a hot cuppa joe, you're actually interfering with your body's natural rhythms (per CNN).

Research published in Psychosomatic Medicine demonstrated that caffeine had an effect on participants' cortisol levels, but this depended on whether they were regular coffee drinkers in the morning or not. Cortisol, the hormone most associated with stress, is usually highest in the mornings. In their study, the researchers found that regular intake of caffeine blunted the impact of cortisol in day-to-day functioning.

Another study, carried out by researchers at the University of Bath, compared participant reactions to drinking a sugary drink first thing in the morning versus drinking a cup of black coffee. The researchers were interested in what effect — if any — the drinks had on a person's blood glucose levels. While the sugary drink led to no apparent change, researchers observed a spike in blood sugar levels and a drop in glucose tolerances after the participants drank the coffee.

As WebMD explains, in the long term, higher glucose levels could mean greater risks for diabetes and the development of heart disease. So while that morning brew sounds harmless, it, in fact, can impact one's cortisol regulation, sleep habits, and metabolic functions. With this said, what can morning coffee enthusiasts do?

Drinking coffee in the morning on an empty stomach

By starting your morning with a shot of espresso, frothy cappuccino, or cup of black coffee, you impact your body's natural ability to regulate and function. As nutritionist Carlyn Rosenblum, MS, RD, explained to PureWow, drinking coffee in the morning before eating anything can disrupt regular cortisol function; in some cases causing cortisol to spike at unpredictable times, and in others, creating a situation where cortisol levels (i.e., stress levels) remain constantly high.

The potential result? Less energy, brain fog, and the urge to reach for sugary, carb-infused energy bites later in the day. To help avoid this, save your caffeine fix for after breakfast and plan to start your day with a nutritious snack or meal instead (via CNN). This simple act can help you make better meal choices throughout the day and keep your energy high as you go about your daily activities.

Can't help but crave the comfort of a hot morning mug? We hear you. But rather than have coffee for breakfast, try a London Fog, a soothing latte alternative made from Earl Grey, or experiment with different flavorful teas. Green tea can be a lighter caffeinated alternative to coffee and comes with major health benefits (think lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and slashed cholesterol levels), too. While we know it's never easy to start a new routine, your body will thank you.