Are you a morning coffee drinker?
If so, have you noticed that some mornings your first coffee feels like a roundhouse kick to the face from a flaming ninja?
But then other mornings you can barely feel a thing?
What's with that?
Well, the good news is that it's not entirely random and there are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting a big kick every single time.
Here's what you can do:
Strategy #1. Timing: No caffeine within an hour of waking up
Like most good things in life, timing can make all the difference.
There's a term in barista speak called "blonding out", this is when the coffee changes from a rich brown colour to a pale blonde watery substance.
A well trained barista can anticipate this down to a fraction of a second and pull the cup away just in time.
Watch carefully next time you order your favourite coffee as your barista pulls the cup away at the perfect time.
My brother and I recently completed a one day training course with Toby's Estate to gain a greater appreciation of what goes into a good cup of coffee and it was so much fun.
We learned a lot of fun facts such as how coffee was first discovered (by an ethiopian goat herder, seriously, google it).
But the biggest and most important lesson we learned that day was: timing.
Not only does timing affect the quality of the coffee you end up drinking but timing can also affect your response to it.
So what does that mean?
When you wake up in the morning and get out of bed, from the moment you stand up your body begins producing the stress hormone cortisol.
The objective isn't to make you stressed, but simply to wake you up so you can function properly and start your day.
So in effect, your body is already "caffeinating" itself before you even get a chance to drink your first cup of coffee.
This self energising process tends to last around an hour or so and is your body's natural way of giving you a boost of energy to get you through the morning.
Now, what happens if we drink coffee during this self energising process?
Because our cortisol levels are already elevated, if caffeine enters our body we tend to be less responsive to it.
Your body will de-sensitise you to the caffeine to reduce the chance of becoming over stimulated and this is particularly noticeable if you attempt to drink coffee straight after waking up several days in a row.
And now because your body is building up a defence to the effects of caffeine it is likely that you will also get less of a kick out of any other coffee you have later that day.
There are 2 ways you can go about dealing with this:
a) Drink even more coffee and hammer yourself with enough caffeine until there's no way you can not feel it.
This will work for a few days, but after that, not only will you be back to square 1 but you'll be even worse off than when you started.
b) Wait until your morning self energising period is finished before consuming your first cup of coffee.
Time after time, when people wait 1 full hour after waking up before having their first coffee they experience better energy levels, less ups and downs, less cravings and are able to get a strong kick out of every cup of coffee they consume.
Now if you're the kind of person who chugs down a mug of coffee within 5 minutes of waking up, changing your ways will be difficult for the first week.
If this is you, I recommend you wait until the weekend or until you have a day off work and then do the following:
Sleep a full 8 hours, wake up and drink a big glass of water (at least 250ml, preferably more) and then get some fresh air even if it means stepping outside in your pyjamas and then go about your morning routine while you resist the urge to drink coffee for a full one hour.
If this feels too difficult, try for 30 minutes and then work your way up to 1 hour within a week.
Trust me on this one, I know how well this works because I too was a total caffeine junkie and now I am proud to say that I am a slightly more disciplined caffeine junkie and definitely get more out of each cup.
To illustrate the point, please allow me to share my previous and current morning routines:
Wake up feeling as heavy and sluggish as an overweight sloth on tranquillisers, then drag myself to the kitchen and drink a glass of water while I watch the Nespresso machine pour my first shot of coffee of the day.
Proceed to drink down the first shot, immediately pour another shot and stand there hoping my morning fogginess will lift some time soon.
Shower, get dressed and stare longingly at the nespresso machine as I consider having a third shot of coffee before dragging myself out the door and off to work.
Does this sound familiar?
If it does, do not feel guilty as I've met many people with a routine almost identical to mine.
But don't worry, with a bit of practice you too can become a reformed junkie and master the art of timing your morning coffee.
Which brings us to...
My current routine:
Wake up feeling great, jump out of bed and notice my energy levels beginning to rise as I walk up the stairs towards the kitchen (such a lovely metaphor).
Have a big glass of water followed by another 500ml of water with a green superfood powder mixed in (Think powdered fruits and vegetables along with some wheat grass and other things).
Shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and leave the house.
Arrive at a cafe and drink a double espresso, by the time I do this it is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes since I've woken up.
Proceed to have an excellent day filled with great energy levels.
Now of course not every day is exactly like this and I'm far from perfect but the difference in my daily energy levels has been dramatic since changing to the new, more effective routine.
Strategy #2. Stabilise your blood sugar levels: Fat and Protein for breakfast & no carbs until lunch
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Are you a patriotic wheat bix or vegemite on toast kind of person?
Or perhaps you eat muesli, granola or yoghurt?
If you answered yes to any of the above I want you to do the following for a week:
Throw them all out.
Now this may sound extreme but please hear me out.
When it comes to achieving stronger, more stable energy levels in the morning one factor that plays a huge role is your blood sugar levels.
Unfortunately the standard high carb aussie breakfast tends to cause a sharp rise in blood sugar levels followed by an even sharper crash an hour or two later.
And when you combine your morning coffee with a big carby breakfast you encourage the crash to come even faster due to an increased rate of gastric emptying e.g. how fast the food moves through your digestive system.
Even if you eat low GI (glycemic index) carbs at breakfast such as oats or multi grain bread you can still crash thanks to the GL of your food (glycemic load e.g. the quantity of carbs you consume and also the fact that you're consuming carbs in isolation without much fat or protein).
Try this instead for just one week:
Consume a breakfast rich in protein and fat with a low carb content.
This leads to much more stable blood sugar levels throughout the morning for most people and can help keep the high of your morning coffee going for much longer than if it was consumed with a high carb breakfast or no breakfast at all.
Some good suggestions for a high protein and fat breakfast are:
Follow this consistently for just one week and I promise you'll notice the difference.
If you're not convinced after a week of trying this, feel free to go back to your previous breakfast, all I'm asking of you is to simply give it a go for one week and see how you feel.
Strategy #3. Re-sensitise yourself: Sleep, Nutrition and Nutritional supplements
Have you ever had an alcoholic drink after a long period of being sober and marveled at how much of a light weight you have become?
The same goes for caffeine.
But who in their right mind wants to go for a full week without caffeine let alone a day?
I know I certainly don't.
So what else can you do to re-sensitise yourself so that you can feel the caffeine kick in like it used to?
Several things actually.
One thing which is very obvious but totally overlooked and abused by most people is sleep, by simply getting 8 hours of sleep per night instead of the standard busy persons 5 to 6 hours you can't help but become more sensitive to caffeine let alone all the other benefits a good nights rest will bring.
You can increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, as the extra vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help fill in any nutritional gaps you have which could be letting you down.
If you have a hard time getting enough fruits and veggies each day you can also take a green super food supplement like I mentioned earlier, this is not meant to be a total substitute, but simply an extra boost to help fill in any nutritional gaps you may have, you can find these supplements at most health food stores.
And finally, you can take a product specifically designed to help gradually restore your energy levels and help you re-sensitise yourself to caffeine.
The product we recommend of course is our own anti fatigue product: ReVive.
Becoming fatigued takes time and so does fixing it, but the good news is that if you put these strategies into action and be consistent you can fight fatigue and restore high daily energy levels much faster than it took you to become fatigued in the first place.
So give these strategies a try and be sure to let me know how you go in the comments.
Until next time
Live with energy
CEO and Co Founder: Upside Nutrition
P.S. Want to learn more fatigue fighting strategies including even more in depth information on how to manage your caffeine intake for optimal results?
Sign up for the 5 Ways to Fight Fatigue email series, it's free:
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Photo Credits for title image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rayseinefotos/16195464629
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