Why Coffee After Dinner? Understanding an Old Tradition
Coffee plays a major role in many people’s lives all over the world. We drink it to wake up and feel good about the day ahead. It’s the best way to get that delicious caffeine fix our brains love so much. While we agree on all the amazing perks we get from coffee, we don’t always agree on the best time to drink it. Some people like to have a cup late in the evening, usually after dinner. However, some oppose this late-night habit for health reasons. But is late-night coffee really bad for you? And why coffee after dinner?
The short answer is that people enjoy drinking coffee after dinner because it helps with digestion and it’s a social activity. Enjoying a cup of coffee after dinner prolongs the interaction of the event and allows people to spend more time together.
But there are many more details as to why people like having coffee after dinner. In this article, we’ll cover much more on why coffee after dinner. We’ll also talk about the benefits and drawbacks of late-night coffee on your mental and physical health.
So let’s dive in!
The Pros and Cons of Coffee After Dinner
Enjoying a cup of coffee after dinner is a daily habit for many people. It has various health benefits. Plus, it’s considered a traditional way to end a meal in several countries worldwide.
However, after-dinner coffee has always been a point of controversy. Those who stick by their after-dinner coffee believe it helps with their digestion. They also like the fact that it works as a suppressant that reduces after-meal snacking.
On the other hand, some believe we shouldn’t drink any coffee after 2 or 3 pm because it could increase anxiety and chronic health issues. They worry it may also disrupt sleep patterns, leaving us feeling groggy and unable to concentrate.
We brought you both sides of the argument so you can decide for yourself.
Here are several health benefits from drinking coffee after your last meal of the day.
Caffeine is one of the best-known appetite suppressants. By drinking a single serving of espresso or black coffee, you reduce the temptation of after-dinner snacking for several hours. This is the main reason why people trying to lose weight drink a cup of black coffee after dinner.
Another reason is that coffee is low in calories, providing you haven’t added sugar or milk. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a single black coffee contains exactly 2 calories. How great is that!
Not only that, but the chlorogenic acid found in coffee reduces the absorption of fat cells. It also increases metabolism. So, you burn more fat and calories compared to those who don’t drink coffee regularly.
Has a Diuretic Effect
Do you feel like you go to the bathroom more often after drinking coffee? That’s because the caffeine in your coffee has a diuretic effect, which makes you urinate more.
But that’s a good thing. By regularly going to the bathroom, your body can flush out excess water and sodium. It prevents weight gain from the extra water. Plus, your body is able to maintain a healthy balance of fluids and sodium.
Helps with Digestion
Studies show that coffee can give the digestive system a boost, especially after a heavy meal. The secret? Caffeine works with chemicals found in coffee, such as chlorogenic acid, to activate gastrin.
This hormone increases muscle contractions in the digestive tract. These frequent muscle movements help food move along quickly through the body, making coffee somewhat of a laxative.
Another advantage is that caffeine also boosts the release of stomach gastric acids. Again, these acids help move things along the digestive tract.
Reduces After-Dinner Sluggishness
Dinner is the heaviest meal of the day for most people. It contains the largest amount of carbs and calories.
When the digestive process starts, we enter a metabolic state called homeostasis. This is when our blood sugar levels spike due to the large quantities of carbs we’ve just consumed. To make up for these high levels, our body releases insulin into the bloodstream.
As a result, our brains increase the production of serotonin. While it’s also known to be a ‘feel-good’ hormone, serotonin is also responsible for managing our sleep cycles.
Couple this with any wine drank with dinner (FYI you should check out our friend’s website for everything wine), and you may be feeling quite tired.
Pairs Well With Desserts
Coffee tends to be a bit acidic, which cuts off the sweetness of desserts. That’s why many people enjoy them both together.
There are no set rules for which desserts go well with coffee. The theory is that coffee flavors should work to complement the flavor of the dessert.
For example, one dessert that goes well with an espresso is anything that has chocolate. The intense beverage flavor enhances the smooth, rich taste of the chocolate.
If you’re eating a cupcake, doughnut, or a slice of cheesecake, try pairing them with regular black coffee. The bitterness of the coffee is the perfect balance to the creamy richness of these desserts.
Brings People Together
The most common reason why people enjoy drinking coffee after dinner is to socialize. It brings friends and family together to socialize and catch up. Few beverages can do that.
Many cultures around the world are known for this nightly tradition. Family members get together once a week after a home-cooked meal and bond over a warm, rich cup of coffee.
Coffee has the ability to evoke feelings of familiarity and friendships. Combine that with age-long traditions, and you can see why coffee has become such a sought-after beverage worldwide.
Because coffee has such a rich aroma, a lot of us associate it with things like energy and vitality. It also has a way of lifting our moods and boosting our stamina.
Yet there are certain times when coffee isn’t always the best option. Read on to find out why drinking coffee directly after a heavy meal can bring more harm than good.
Interferes with Iron Absorption
We’ve mentioned that coffee contains certain chemicals, such as chlorogenic acid. These are believed to latch on to the minerals in your food, such as iron, magnesium, zinc, and calcium. As a result, their absorption rate slows down drastically. Various studies show that drinking coffee with a meal may reduce iron absorption rate by up to 80%.
It’s also worth mentioning that coffee runs through your system faster than food. So, if you’re eating dinner with a cup of coffee, the coffee will reach your digestive tract before the food. This may also prevent the absorption of some nutrients during the digestive process.
So, if you’re used to drinking coffee directly after or during dinner, it would be wise to change this habit. After-dinner coffee enthusiasts advise that you wait for at least an hour after your meal before enjoying your next cup of coffee.
Disrupts Sleep Patterns
Some believe that having caffeine after 3 in the afternoon will delay sleep. They go even further by claiming that it can disrupt your circadian rhythm.
This ultra-sensitive rhythm, or internal body clock, works discreetly in the background over a 24-hour period. It helps carry out vital bodily processes and functions. One of its most important functions is to regulate your sleep-wake cycles.
So how does coffee interfere with this? Some believe that the caffeine will keep you awake for longer into the night. This throws off your melatonin levels.
Sleep delay caused by a late-night caffeine fix can last for almost forty minutes. While that doesn’t sound like much, but to your circadian rhythm, it’s enough to throw most people off for days on end.
But you still have to wake up early for work. Since you didn’t sleep well, you need more coffee to wake up and stay awake. This creates a vicious cycle that can be hard to get out of.
Those who support after-dinner coffee stand firm by their belief. They’re convinced that a cup of espresso or black coffee has little effect on the circadian rhythm. They argue that a single serving of espresso has less caffeine than most larger coffee drinks.
They also believe that each one of us is different when it comes to sleep-cycles. First, get to know your body’s circadian rhythm. Only then can you enjoy better sleep, regardless of when you drink your coffee.
For years now, after-dinner coffee has been a staple tradition for many individuals around the world. The reasons differ from person to the other, but the perks are always the same.
It’s important to mention that a late-in-the-day coffee is different from those we drink in the morning. There should be no oversized mugs or flavor-rich lattes. After-dinner coffee usually consists of something dark and short. It could be espresso, regular black, or filtered coffee. It’s an easy and simple way to give your meal that perfect finishing touch.
If you’re one of the few still asking, “Why coffee after dinner?” We encourage you to give it a try. It can be a great way to end a delicious meal while enjoying some downtime with friends and family.
Stay caffeinated friends!