This article is focused to simply answer a very valid and often misunderstood question, “When should I drink Coffee”. For most people, coffee is a morning thing, while for others, coffee is more of a “drink it when you want” kind of thing. Nutrition, however, points out why some times are better than others, and everything is linked to body functions and how the body works throughout the day.
The Caffeine Thing
Funny enough, your body doesn’t need caffeine in the morning. Of course, you need to have a proper sleep schedule and enough rest for this to apply.
Our body system works naturally according to biological clock and science calls it the Circadian Rhythm. It runs complete 24 hour cycle and is controlled by the environment – say the sunrise, sunset, cloudy climate. Like say, you naturally feel sleepy at night! Exceptions exists, like Party Freaks.
Similarly, when your body wakes up, it knows that it needs to ramp up the energy usage and bring you back up to the best shape possible to start the day. The circadian rhythm orders the production of cortisol, which is responsible for bringing alertness to our body and manipulating many other biological processes. If your body is already boosting your energy levels, then caffeine won’t have such a great effect.
Caffeine tolerance will lower the effects of that cup of Joe, that’s why you see people drinking one cup of coffee and feeling like their hearts are going to pop out, and then you see people drinking ten cups a day and being just fine. Tolerance will increase with each cup you drink, no matter how effective caffeine is or if your body actually uses it or not.
The Best Time Then?
So yes, we have stated that the morning, or at least around 8 AM, is not the best time for caffeine intake. But then, when is it the best time?
Well to answer that question, let’s just say that your body cannot keep up the energy boost for too long, or else it would be unhealthy, therefore, caffeine can be “applied” during those downtime to keep up the rhythm. Usually, your body will give that energy boost when you wake up, at around 8 AM to 9 PM, or even 10 PM, but by 11 PM, it lowers down.
Take into account that this is not the only boost of energy your body provides, you will have another one near or around noon (depends on the first one, early one at 8 AM can cause the second boost to come at 11 AM and such). The next one is the sunset one, which is based on where you live, as your body recognizes the sun going down, it brings up the energy to “find a shelter” to spend the night in.
Therefore we have 3 boost times; the easiest way to remember them is sunrise, noon, and sunset. The best time to drink coffee is actually between these times, but it also depends on your activities and what you need the energy for. Just as a note, coffee is bad after sunset, unless you work during the nighttime, an excess in caffeine during sleep hours will reduce the effectiveness of these hours.
Now that we stated that caffeine should be used as a “bridge” for those natural energy boosts, let’s talk activities. Coffee is one of the best pre-workout drinks out there. I have used it because I don’t like those fancy and unhealthy drinks, and it works like a charm. Therefore, if you workout at 4 PM, for example, having a cup of coffee 15 minutes before that time is great. It serves as a bridge and also as a pre-workout.
This can also be applied to the morning if you are one of those people that wake up and workout right away. As the caffeine, in those cases, will be needed to support that initial energy boost, and in the end, you will use everything you are getting.
Now for work or school, in these cases then the caffeine use is simpler, as you can use it simply as a bridge for the previously mentioned energy peaks, just drink whenever that peak goes down to keep the body and mind going.
Now I will make a little schedule, simplifying what we just went through and making something easy to follow up
- After 9 AM but before 11 AM
- After 1 PM but before 5 PM
- Before Workouts
- During High Activity Events (School or work for example)
Pretty simple, but now, let’s talk about coffee after sunset, which can lead to some nasty results.
Caffeine will keep you awake, that’s not new! But then, drinking coffee after sunset can mean that you stay awake even when you don’t want to. This concept even applies to food, you don’t eat carbohydrates after sunset to avoid having energy that won’t be used. If your body has active energy, but you decide to go to bed. Even if you fall asleep, you will not recover, because your body will be active instead of resting.
When it comes to caffeine tolerance, sure, some people may not feel the hit of a cup of coffee, but it is still in there, it will still affect your body. Therefore it doesn’t really matter how much tolerance you have, try not to drink coffee after sunset.
Of course, there are exceptions! If you work a graveyard shift, or at least overnight, you will need that coffee more than ever. This is because your body regulates the energy based on the circadian-rhythm of your body regulated by the amount of sunlight you perceive. Since you won’t be seeing the sun, your body will be far less effective at delivering energy. So, in these cases, coffee during the night is quite handy, and may be healthy for you!
Coffee can be a great ally, it doesn’t matter if you want to keep up working at the same pace, workout with more energy or stay awake during those overnight hours, caffeine will be effective and handy. Of course, caffeine has its drawbacks. After all, it’s a drug, and the abuse of it can lead to some serious consequences. Drink coffee during the times we previously stated and you will be golden. Just don’t overdo it, a couple of cups can be good enough for a short period of time.