(and because you love it, it’s your favorite part of the day, and you can’t function without it)
Sound about right?
I’ve worked with many clients that start my program feeling like their digestion is ok because they are pooping once a day, after their morning cup of Joe.
I’ve also worked with people that eventually admit much later in my program (after we’ve built a trusting relationship) that the reason they drink coffee is to help them poop and suppress their appetite.
There are many, many of you out there using coffee to help clean you out, and I get it, it’s so nice to start the day with an empty system. You feel light, free, and ready to take on the day.
Unfortunately, whether your intention for your morning coffee is to help you poop or not, having coffee on an empty stomach actually sets your health back a bit.
Balanced hormones are incredibly important for everyone, not just us ladies. Men, it’s something that should be top of mind for you, too!
Our goal with balancing our hormones is to have a steady day of balanced blood sugar levels. There should be gradual spikes when we eat balanced meals, and then a gradual decrease in blood sugar as our body has processed our food. Picture a rollercoaster made for 4 year olds and under, with small, slow hills and small slow dips. If we can consistently manage healthy blood sugar levels by eating balanced meals and moving our body throughout the day, our hormones, generally, will be set up to be pretty balanced.
Picture the Ring of Fire, or the Tower or Terror, but you go up as fast as you plummet. Your blood sugar spikes so fast it can make you jittery, and then you crash, resulting in low energy levels and trouble concentrating.
Not only is riding the highs and lows of your energy kinda a bummer, it does not make your insulin happy. It can lead to insulin resistance and throw your hormones out of whack.
When our hormones are out of balance, it can lead to all kinds of health issues- trouble sleeping, weight gain, skin issues, energy issues, extreme PMS, infertility, and other chronic diseases.
Ok, you think that having coffee on an empty stomach supports your digestion because it makes you poop. Logical, but incorrect.
Long term, it does more harm than good. You are getting things going in the short term, but you are negatively impacting your digestive tract over time.
Your digestive tract has a series of muscles. When you eat food, these muscles are put to work, pushing things down and out, trying to digest it quickly, absorb its nutrients, and prepare for its next shift.
If you use a stimulant like caffeine to help push food through your bowels, those muscles aren’t being put to work. We know what happens to muscles that aren’t put to work- they atrophy. Your digestive muscles become weak, and don’t work as well throughout the rest of the day when you eat, leading to bloating, constipation, and digestive discomfort.
So, how do you balance your hormones, support your digestive muscles, and enjoy your coffee?
Let’s get food in your belly for your hormones and work on supporting digestive health throughout the day so that your digestion is efficient all day.
The goal here is to just get something small in your stomach so that the blood sugar spike is slower and less steep (again, the kiddie ride). If you have something in your stomach, the coffee won’t be such a big hit on your insulin, which in turn won’t give you the dizzying effect of the spike and drop, positively impacting your hormones.
It’s best to have a nice healthy fat or protein in the morning for blood sugar health. Here are some good options~
The key is a healthy fat or protein, keep that in mind!
Fiber is the best thing to help you poop. Period.
If you are taking in a healthy amount of soluble fiber (feeds your gut bacteria- so important) and insoluble fiber (bulks up your stool to push things out) your digestive muscles will be put to work all day long. Fiber is their version of 75 Hard! If you are only pooping once a day because of coffee, it’s a clear indicator that you need to increase your fiber intake.
I suggest using an app like Foodvisor to document how much fiber you are consuming for two of your typical days. Once you have that number, work on increasing it by 5 grams a day per week until you reach 30+ grams of fiber a day, consistently.
When I say fiber, I mean real food fiber, not processed food that claims it has fiber. Think fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and whole grains.
The more fiber the better, but not all at once. If we get too much too soon, it can be really uncomfortable for our body. Go slow so your body gets used to it until you are consistently getting in 30+ grams a day. This should certainly improve your daily bowel movements and keep you from being reliant on coffee.
I don’t want you to be scared of your morning cup of coffee. I do want you to be thoughtful about it. Make sure you have a little fat or protein before you have coffee to support your hormones, and increase the amount of fiber you eat daily so you are exercising your digestive muscles.
If you do that, your cup of coffee will be guilt free and potentially beneficial for your health!