Why I Skip A Second Cup Of Coffee But Keep The Caffeine In My Daily Routine
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Texas Christian University and a master’s in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from Tufts University. She lives in Newport Beach, California, and enjoys connecting people to the food they eat and how it influences health and wellbeing.
Image by Oleksandr Briagin / istockphoto
October 26, 2023
Coffee is an integral part of my morning routine. After a quick morning walk, I brew my cup of joe and then sink into my favorite chair to read for a bit. The warmth (hot coffee always), the smell, and the habitualness of it all do wonders in waking me up mentally and physically.
That one 8-ounce cup is usually enough to power me through my day. On days it doesn’t, or on days I just want to treat myself, I may reach for a second cup right around lunchtime. But no matter what, it never elicits the energetic response I want and instead seems to have the opposite effect.
Drinking coffee in the afternoon always seems to make me sleepy
Something about coffee in the afternoon always seems to make me more drowsy than before.
And I’m not quite sure why that is, but I have a couple of hypotheses. One is that I tend to have coffee on an empty stomach in the morning. Why? Well, that’s my general preference, and it’s also just 8 ounces, so it’s a pretty limited amount of caffeine. I also think I’m a pretty slow caffeine metabolizer and tend to not experience any jolt or jitteriness after consuming it. So having caffeine on an empty stomach gives it a more potent stimulating effect, which gives me the alertness and clarity I need to start my day right.
If I have coffee later in the day, I likely have at least two good meals in me by then and caffeine’s excitatory effects may be blunted.
Caffeine also works by blocking a sleepiness-promoting molecule called adenosine. The amount of adenosine in the brain builds up the longer you’ve been awake. So a slow and less potent response to caffeine means that I’m still feeling the effects of adenosine.
Secondly, I associate coffee with a quiet and calming morning routine. Guzzling down a cup in front of a computer to wake me up is in direct contradiction with how I’ve consumed the beverage for the last decade. I think (at least part) of my groggy response to afternoon coffee is my perception.
If I really need more energy for a productive afternoon than one cup of coffee, I take focus+
So I finally decoupled the notion that caffeine had to come from drinking coffee, and started to experiment with finding my sweet spot—and source—of caffeine intake.
And that’s where mindbodygreen’s focus+ comes in. focus+ delivers both fast-acting and extended-release caffeine from the coffee plant (the coffee cherry and bean). It’s also paired with L-theanine and guarana to promote a relaxed yet fully alert state—which is what I need to write accurately and efficiently and not get overwhelmed by the clutter of open tabs on my screen.*
I love that I get the benefits of coffee’s caffeine content in a highly targeted way. Typically, I feel a response about 30 minutes after taking it and don’t experience a sharp come down.* My energy levels stay consistent when I need them to (aka during the day and early evening when I’m working) before gradually fading into an accomplished and deserved feeling of tiredness about two hours before I go to bed.*
focus+ doesn’t interfere with my sleep either—according to my Apple Watch. I tend to take it around 11 a.m. (a couple of hours after my coffee, but before lunch). This is enough after my breakfast, but before lunch and I’m not taking it on a full stomach, and is timed so the extended-release caffeine should hit me during my most sluggish hours of the late afternoon.*
Figuring out your optimal caffeine intake, including the timing, the amount, and the source can be challenging. And everyone’s preferred schedules can look a bit different. After l lots of trial and error, I finally found what works best for me.
I rise and set the tone of my morning with a cup of coffee, and hunker down for a productive afternoon with focus+.*
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.