March 18, 2019
Last Updated:
February 2, 2021

Why the Timing of Your Morning Coffee Matters

There’s nothing like the smell of fresh coffee brewing in the morning.

If you love coffee, you’re probably familiar with its long list of health benefits. Studies have shown that it can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s, to name a few.

For many of us, coffee’s the first thing we put in our bodies each day. But like so many things in life, timing is everything.

Coffee and your digestion:

Our stomachs naturally produce hydrochloric acid, which helps us digest our food. Coffee stimulates that production. (Spoiler alert: That’s why you usually have to run to the bathroom after drinking coffee.) But if there’s nothing in your stomach to digest when the coffee shows up, that excess hydrochloric acid can damage the lining of your stomach over time.

The good news is there’s an easy way to prevent this: Have something to eat before you gulp down your coffee. Even if it’s something simple like fruit or a handful of nuts, you’ll keep that hydrochloric acid busy digesting your food instead of irritating your stomach.

Coffee and your hormones:

Our circadian rhythms influence what hormones we produce and when. In the morning, we produce more cortisol, a stress hormone that tells our body it’s time to wake up, like the body’s built-in alarm clock.

Coffee also stimulates the production of cortisol. Drinking coffee when your body is already naturally producing cortisol, especially on an empty stomach, can leave you feeling jittery and anxious.

Your cortisol levels start to dip about 30 minutes to an hour after you wake up, so you might want to consider waiting until then, after you’ve eaten something, to have your coffee.

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Next time you’re tempted to reach for a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, instead try reaching for some food. Your stomach will thank you, your hormones will thank you, and you’ll get more bang for your coffee buck.

Head over to the IIN Recipe Blog for some breakfast inspiration to pair with your morning coffee! Or check out these quick and easy breakfast ideas you can make in less than ten minutes while your coffee is brewing:

Overnight Oats


  • 1⁄2 cup oats 

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup milk (choose your favorite – almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or cow’s milk – or to make it extra thick, use yogurt.)
  • Optional: Berries, nuts, coconut flakes, honey, cinnamon, or cacao nibs 

 Instructions: Mix oats, chia seeds, and milk. Refrigerate overnight. When you wake up, you’ll have a delicious breakfast ready to go! You can add the optional toppings the night before to allow the flavors to mix together or in the morning. 

Green Smoothie


  • 1 cup water 

  • 2 handfuls spinach 

  • 1/2 avocado 

  • 1/2 cup frozen mango 

Instructions: Throw everything in a blender, mix, and pour! 

Avocado Toast


  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Drizzle olive oil 

  • Gluten-free or sourdough bread
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste 

Instructions: Mix avocado, lemon juice, and olive oil in a bowl. Toast bread, then top it with your avocado mash. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy! 

Author Biography
Laura Borinsky
IIN Content Writer

Laura graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans with a degree in Art History. She completed the Health Coach Training Program in 2017 and has also taken IIN’s Gut Health Course. Outside of IIN she spends most of her time teaching and practicing yoga in New York City.

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