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Can Coffee Spike Your Cortisol Levels?

Updated: Feb 10

cup of coffee

The short answer is, yes. How and when you drink your coffee matters when it comes to managing cortisol.

Cortisol, the stress hormone in our bodies that regulates our energy levels, is at its peak in the morning. While it is necessary for our health, increased production of cortisol can cause an imbalance in blood sugar causing insulin resistance, unwanted weight gain, trouble with sleep, and a weakened immune system.

Drinking coffee as soon as you wake up, is not a good idea because it can cause a shift in the production of cortisol. This hormone is generally higher in the morning and lowers in the evening.

Additionally, coffee on an empty stomach has been shown to increase acidity in the stomach, so if you have digestive issues such as IBS, acid reflux, or other digestive disorders, it is a good idea to pay attention to how your body responds to caffeine as it could be triggering symptoms.

So what are the recommendations?

First, instead of immediately reaching for the cup of joe right when you wake up, hydrate with a glass of water. Consuming a healthy balanced breakfast composed of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein to neutralize the acidity of your beverage. At that point, cortisol should have lowered (around 1 hour after waking up), and drinking a cup of coffee will actually give you the energy boost you are looking for.

Keep in mind that here at NGN, we recommend staying under 400mg of caffeine per day (4 cups of coffee).

If you are looking to work on your gut health and optimize your nutrition, check out our individualized coaching and self-guided programs! We would love to work with you.

Luciana Perasso, M.S, R.D.N  NextGeneration Nutrition Registered Dietitian

Written by: Luciana Perasso, M.S, R.D.N

NextGeneration Nutrition Registered Dietitian


Jessica Mantell M.S., C.N.S., L.D.N.

CEO & Founder of NextGeneration Nutrition

Jessica Mantell, CEO, M.S, LDN, Founder

NextGeneration Nutrition believes that better health should be accessible to everyone and that we all are able to improve our health through good nutrition, physical activity, and lifestyle change. We do not support setting shame-based goals but encourages embracing our bodies, genetics, and personality. Our philosophy is abandoning the “One Size Fits All” mentality to create a personalized wellness plan based on your biological makeup and your lifestyle.

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