Is having coffee after dinner a good idea? It’s eight in the evening, and you’ve just finished dinner after a tiring day. You’d like to jump into bed bad sadly; your workload and deadlines stare at you, guilt-tripping you. It would be awesome to grab a cup of coffee to get a little energy boost, but should you?
Coffee contains a stimulant called caffeine which temporarily boosts your energy. Conversely, caffeine is also known as an inhibitor, which means it negatively affects the absorption of certain nutrients. So taking it after meals is undoubtedly not a good idea.
Now, what kind of nutrients does coffee exactly inhibit? And even more importantly, how can I prevent inhibition from coffee? Let’s dive deep into this bitter bean and figure this out.
What Is Exactly Is The Bitter Bean? Is Coffee After Dinner Okay?
Coffee is a drink brewed from roasted coffee beans, taken as a leisure beverage or the go-to productivity juice. Its purposes for intake are usually for an energy boost, especially on groggy mornings and endless evenings. However, I too wonder if having coffee after dinner a good idea or a bad one?
Before coffee was a worldwide phenomenon, it first originated from the African continent, specifically in the country of Ethiopia. Over the years, coffee has migrated to the Central and South Americas and Southeast Asia. Today, Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia are the leading producers of coffee beans.
Today, experts estimate that people consume around 2.25 billion coffee cups per day. That means more than a fifth of the world’s population drinks coffee daily, at least once a day! Mind-blowing right?
How Does Coffee Affect Our Nutrition, And Why Shouldn’t I Drink Caffeine After Dinner?
Caffeine, a stimulant found on coffee, tea, colas, chocolates, and other related beverages, is an inhibitor. It means it may restrict or control the number of nutrients absorbed by the digestive tract.
Because of this, having a moderate caffeine intake (300mg or less per day) on the correct period is essential to deter dependency, nutrient depletion, and possible interference to one’s sleep cycle.
With the increasing public and scientific interest regarding the possible health consequences of caffeine, many have questioned the action of chronic consumption of the said beverage. With this in mind, I’ve created a list below to present the nutrients which may be affected by an inhibitor such as caffeine:
Caffeine inhibits (restricts the absorption of) iron, a nutrient necessary for producing red blood cells. According to a Nutrition Desk Reference, caffeine consumption in concurrence to the consumption of an iron source will possibly hamper absorption by up to the unyielding heights of 80%.
It signifies that it is highly recommended not to consume coffee if any iron-containing food, beverage, or food supplement is, or will be, consumed within the next hour.
Dual isotope studies conducted to evaluate the effect of coffee on iron absorption also occurred. They concluded that coffee reduces 39% of the iron absorbed from a hamburger meal, with tea having the most adverse effects of 64%.
The good news is that there has been no reported decrease in iron absorption by waiting for a whole hour, but note that the effects will reverse if coffee is absorbed an hour after consuming any iron sources.
Caffeine has adverse effects on calcium. With caffeine, the body excretes calcium as feces and urine instead of being absorbed into our bodies. Studies show that for every 150 mg of caffeine (the amount found in a cup of coffee), 5 mg of calcium is excreted instead of being absorbed. This phenomenon can still occur even if the last coffee intake was a few hours ago.
The effects of caffeine on postmenopausal women are even worse. Studies found that women who consumed more than 300 mg of caffeine or two cups of caffeine per day lost more bone mass in the spine than the women who consumed less.
These alarming results occur by the inhibition synthesized by caffeine to the amount of calcium absorbed within the intestinal tract. There has also been evidence that caffeine depletes the amount of calcium retained by the bones.
Studies have shown that women with more than 300 mg of caffeine intake a day suffer more hip fractures than those who avoid or moderately drink caffeinated beverages.
3. Vitamin D
Caffeine inhibits calcium, but it also infamously inhibits vitamin D receptors, which means caffeine limits the amount of Vitamin D absorbed into the body. Vitamin D has a critical use, especially within the usage of calcium within building bones.
Vitamin D deficiency can result in decreased bone mineral density. It means coffee may result in more fragile bones and increase the risks of bone-related conditions and diseases such as osteoporosis.
4. B Vitamins
The B complex vitamins, or most commonly shortened as the B vitamins, are of the following: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (b9) and cobalamin (B12).
Caffeine is a chemical that increases urination or has a diuretic effect, which means water-soluble vitamins, such as the B complex vitamins, can be depleted due to fluid loss.
Caffeine can also interfere with the metabolism of some B complex vitamins, except for cobalamin or vitamin B12, which benefit from the presence of caffeine as caffeine stimulates the production of stomach acid. It is because stomach acid helps the body absorb vitamin B12.
How Should I Drink Coffee So It Does Not Significantly Impact My Nutrition?
Even though coffee has some adverse effects, there are methods to mitigate the side effects. You can still drink your favorite beverage with the following tips:
1. Drink Caffeine In The Mornings Instead Of Evenings
Most people opt not to have a heavy breakfast. With this in mind, the inhibition of the adverse effects is hampered by the decreased amount of food intake. It means that drinking coffee on empty-stomach mornings is a good idea while also doubling down as a slight energy boost in the mornings.
2. Stop Drinking Coffee When Bedtime Is Just A Few Hours Away
As we all already know, caffeine gives a slight boost of energy whenever consumed. Unfortunately, our brain doesn’t appreciate that boost of energy, especially when it needs to relax and minimize its actions in the meantime.
It means that drinking caffeine in the evening will obviously, lead to sleepless nights.
3. Don’t Consume Coffee At Mealtimes
Consuming coffee at mealtimes is a bad idea as it heavily hampers nutrient absorption. If staying healthy is a priority right now (as it always is), stop drinking coffee before and after mealtimes. Instead, let your stomach rest for at least an hour.
4. Choose To Drink Non-Caffeinated Alternatives
Decaffeinated coffee, juice, and the best of them all—water are all better alternatives if you want to drink a beverage right after a heavy meal.
Energizing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Caffeine And Mealtimes
Does Coffee Or Tea Have More Caffeine?
Although it may vary by preparation, type of ingredient, and origin, coffee beans usually have a lesser amount of caffeine than tea leaves.
Unfortunately, though, coffee’s brewing process extracts more caffeine due to hot water. As a result, coffee usually has two times the caffeine concentration when compared to tea.
Can Coffee Help With A Bowel Movement?
Actually, yes! Coffee very much promotes peristalsis causing frequent bowel movements. Coffee can not only encourage urination, but it can also cause frequent bowel movements.
Can I Consume Coffee On An Empty Stomach (As For Breakfast)?
Although there have been many myths regarding the consumption of coffee on an empty stomach, no solid scientific evidence has proven an empty stomach changes digestion of coffee.
It means that the effects of coffee with an empty or a non-empty stomach are the same. As long as you know the effects of coffee, it should be fine.