Why does coffee make me feel hungry?

Digesting Coffee

Like most people, my mornings (and my afternoons) are not complete without a coffee. Personally, I love hot coffees in the morning and an iced cold one for the afternoon. But is your favorite morning beverage or afternoon pick-me-up causing you to feel hungrier?

If you answered yes, you may not be alone. Coffee and its caffeine content have long been understood to suppress feelings of hunger, but for many, the opposite effect is felt.

Why do you feel hungrier after coffee?

That jolt of energy provided by coffee is only one of the many reasons people love it so much, but its stimulating buzz is integral to what makes coffee, coffee. So why do I feel hungrier after drinking coffee?

To understand, we must understand caffeine and what it is. Many foods and plants have naturally occurring caffeine. Some of these plants include:

  • Coffee beans
  • Cacao (What chocolate is made from!)
  • Tea leaves
  • Kola nuts (The original source of caffeine in Coca-Cola.)
  • Guarana (A native plant of the Amazonian Rainforest.)

Caffeine can also be manufactured in labs where it is then added to foods, medications, and drinks such as energy drinks. The average American drinks about 135 mg of caffeine a day and it’s suggested to consume more than 400 mg per day. Children and adolescents should generally not consume caffeine but many foods, such as those flavored with chocolate, have small amounts of caffeine present.

The caffeine in coffee is a natural stimulant. That means it gives the body more energy and keeps the mind alert. This in turn increases calorie burning by the metabolism and raises energy levels which in turn makes the body feel hungrier. If the body is burning energy, then we can assume that it will need a new source of energy. This is why your body might feel hungry 30 – 90 minutes after drinking a coffee or other caffeinated beverage.

Even decaf coffee contains small traces of caffeine and may contribute to the hungry feeling. The number of calories in your coffee may also affect how hungry or full you feel. Many popular coffees found at chain coffee shops contain all kinds of additives, creamers, and sugars.

A grande pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks has a whopping 390 calories. This is as many calories as a big snack or small meal. A high-calorie coffee is going to make one feel fuller than a black coffee with less than 10 calories.

Does the time of day matter?

The time of day when you drink your coffee may affect how hungry you feel. Those who drink coffee right when they wake up and before having breakfast are going to feel hungrier right away. Coffee should not be used as a meal replacement or a method of losing weight.

Those who drink coffee later in the day after having full meals may not feel as hungry, but the jolt of energy will cause the body to start burning energy and require food to fuel their hunger. I’d recommend eating before drinking a coffee or having a snack with your coffee.

In many cultures across the world having a pastry or other tasty snack with your coffee is the traditional method of consumption. An almond croissant and latte is one of my favorite food and beverage combinations of all time.

Is coffee dehydrating you?

Your feelings of hunger may be accompanied by feelings of thirst. Coffee is a mild diuretic that may affect the kidneys, especially when drunk in high volumes. Diuretics are substances that cause the body to produce urine in higher amounts. The caffeine in coffee increases blood flow to the kidneys, which respond by releasing water through urine.

The loss of water in the body will cause you to feel dehydrated and thirsty alongside the feelings of hunger. That thirst may be quenched by consuming fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content. Remember to stay hydrated if you’re consuming multiple coffees a day and drink water before or after you finish your caffeinated beverage.

Does the type of coffee matter?

Yes, the type of coffee you’re drinking does matter. There are so many ways to take your coffee. Some of these include:

  • Black coffee
  • Coffee with cream or sugar
  • Lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos
  • Americanos
  • Cold brew
  • Iced Coffee
  • Frozen coffee beverages

As addressed before, many chain cafes sell flavored coffees upgraded with different creams, syrups, and toppings. It’s perfectly acceptable to take your coffee with cream and sugar, but the added ingredients will change how the coffee affects your body compared to a simpler black coffee.

For some, the added calories will keep you fuller longer. However, in some cases, the added sugar may further stimulate the body and leave you feeling hungrier quicker. Different types of coffee may have different levels of caffeine as well. A 16 oz cold brew may have around 210 mg of caffeine compared to a single shot of espresso which has around 150 mg. Those differences in caffeine will be sure to have different effects on your body.

Coffee and Hunger

At the end of the day, no 2 persons have the same body. Coffee and caffeine will have different effects on different people, and those effects can change by the day or depending on when you drink them. For some coffee may suppress their appetite, but for many, consuming coffee will lead to feelings of hunger. A typical serving of coffee contains anywhere from 80 – 200 mg of caffeine.

Coffee not only tastes amazing, but its stimulating effects also improve our cognitive ability and give the body energy. That invigorating effect may make our bodies feel hungrier than we did before consuming. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach will only tire the body out more and make you feel hungrier. It is important to remember to nourish our bodies and make sure you’ve consumed enough food either before having your coffee or along with it.