Here's Why You Should Stop Drinking Coffee After Meals

Americans like their coffee. We need that caffeine hit before we get our morning started, and a second cup after we finish up breakfast. We need our Starbucks flat white to keep ourselves going for that afternoon meeting. And who doesn't order up an after-dinner demitasse, cappuccino, or Americano after a big meal with friends to help wake ourselves up for the drive home? 

The fact of the matter is, we drink a lot of coffee, 400 million cups of coffee a day to be exact, making the United States the world's biggest consumer of this caffeinated beverage. In fact, 64 percent of Americans, 18 years old and older, drink a cup of coffee every day (via My Friends Coffee) and it is estimated that the average coffee drinker spends over $1,000 a year on their caffeine addiction (via MSN). 

With coffee shops aplenty, it's easier than ever to get your coffee fix any time of the day, but you might want to think twice about when you are drinking your coffee before you order up. Turns out when you are drinking your coffee can impact your health. Why? Because several studies have shown that caffeine can affect iron absorption which is essential for our bodies to make healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen (via WebMD).

Coffee can interfere with iron absorption

Apparently, drinking coffee with (or directly after) a meal can interfere with the absorption of iron. One study had participants drink a cup of joe while noshing on a hamburger — not the best combo, but for the sake of science, we get it. It concluded that drinking coffee with the burger reduced iron absorption by 39 percent. But caffeine doesn't discriminate when it comes to iron absorption interference. For all of you who love to eat toast and drink coffee in the morning, another study found that drinking coffee with bread decreased iron absorption by between 60 and 90 percent. And it gets worse. The strength of your java matters, too. The stronger the coffee you drink with your meal, the less iron absorption (via Healthline). 

So how do we manage this predicament? Because, let's face it, our family and friends would much rather we have low iron than turn into a grouchy mess without it. The good news for coffee lovers and the people who love us, drinking coffee one hour before a meal doesn't seem to mess with your body absorbing iron, and the same holds true after a meal. Give yourself anywhere between one and three hours after eating avocado toast before you have your caffeine and you will be in good shape physically — and in a good mood.