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The caffeine in coffee is a known stimulant and can rev up the digestive tract and lead to bloating, gas, and other types of gastrointestinal problems. Many people with sensitive digestive tracts experience worsened digestive upsets because of the ingredients that they add to their coffee, like cream and sugar.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the reasons why coffee might cause bloating and some steps that you can take to prevent coffee bloat.
Why Does Coffee Make Me Bloated and Gassy?
As with many of the positive and negative effects of coffee, it all comes down to caffeine. Caffeine is a stomach irritant and can cause bloating and gas in sensitive individuals.
For those with caffeine sensitivities, even small amounts of caffeine could cause symptoms. Moreover, caffeine isn’t the only irritant in your coffee. Coffee itself is acidic, even if you’re drinking low-acid coffees. Those acids could be the cause of your digestive issues, as could the milk and sweeteners you are adding to your cup of joe.
How to Prevent Bloat from Coffee
If coffee often leaves you bloated, you might want to try one of the many coffee alternatives out there. But before taking that extreme of a measure, there are smaller steps you can try.
1. Switch to decaf coffee
If you’ve identified that caffeine is the culprit of your gastrointestinal woes, then there should be a noticeable decrease in any discomfort by switching to decaffeinated or even half-caf coffee.
Sensitive individuals might notice that bloating and gas still result when drinking decaffeinated coffee. Furthermore, decaffeinated coffee still contains some caffeine. Coffees decaffeinate using the swiss-water process are as close to caffeine-free as you’ll find, but even they still have a few milligrams of caffeine per cup.
2. Sweeten your coffee without sugar
Some people experience bloating and other digestive complaints after drinking their coffee with excessive amounts of sugar in it. For these individuals, sometimes refraining from adding any sugar to their java is the only option. Even natural sugars like maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar can still lead to stomach distress.
In such cases, there are two options: either drink their coffee without any sweetener or use a sugar-free coffee sweetener like Stevia.
Stevia is an all-natural alternative sweetener that contains zero calories and zero carbs. It’s important to start out using the smallest amount of Stevia possible because too much can make a person’s coffee taste bitter and lead to an undesirable aftertaste.
You could also try cutting back your sugar intake. If you’re used to drinking multiple cups of coffee per day with four teaspoonfuls of sugar in each cup, that adds up fast. Slowly decreasing the amount of sugar you’re using can cause the uncomfortable bloating to subside.
3. Eat something first
Some people can better tolerate coffee, even with the sugar and cream they like, as long as they’re not drinking it on an empty stomach. Most people wake up in the morning, and the only thing that they have an appetite for is their morning coffee.
However, if you want to end the stomach bloating and other distress that drinking coffee causes, then it might be a good idea to eat something prior to enjoying your first cup of coffee. The snack doesn’t need to be anything substantial, as even a piece of toast or fruit will suffice.
Waiting until after you eat is best, but even drinking coffee with breakfast can decrease the chances of becoming bloated afterward.
4. Try drinking a darker roast
Certain types of coffee contain higher amounts of gut-irritating chemicals that prompt the body to release acid, which is often what causes people’s stomach issues. Usually, darker roasts will cause less acid production in your stomach, and this can minimize the chances of experiencing bloating.
Due to this fact, you might want to try drinking a dark roast coffee (like espresso blends), which could be easier on your stomach and cause a lot less bloating, if any. Many coffee lovers even find that they enjoy the rich and delicious taste of dark roast or espresso better than other roasts.
5. Try using creamer alternatives
Many people are lactose intolerant and don’t even realize it. What is lactose intolerance? It’s an inability to digest the milk sugar lactose. Milk contains several natural sugars, and lactose is one of these sugars. Roughly 30 million American adults suffer from lactose intolerance, making it very likely that this is the source of some people’s bloating and other stomach discomforts.
If you think you might be lactose intolerant, you should consider trying some of the many non-dairy creamers on the market. There are some very delicious tasting almond, soy, and oat milk creamers available, among numerous others.
6. Go easy with sugar alcohols
Sugar alcohols are sweeteners like erythritol, sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, and more. Many people rely on these sweeteners because they have very few calories as well as very little effect on blood sugar. Sugar alcohols are also 100% natural, but they tend to cause digestive upset, especially if they’re consumed in large amounts.
A person could be sensitive to the coffee as well as the sugar alcohols, and if they’re using these types of sweeteners in their coffee, then bloating can definitely ensue. For those who are sensitive to sugar alcohols, switching to Stevia or another alternate sweetener could lessen the gas, bloating, and other digestive distress that is experienced when drinking coffee.
Coffee can cause bloating, but coffee and bloating don’t have to go hand-in-hand. Coffee has potassium and antioxidants that lead to numerous positive health impacts. With the right tweaks to how and when you drink your favorite brew, you can keep those positives without the bloat and gas.
Remember that it’s all about moderation. That’s a lot easier nowadays with the wide range of pod coffee makers (like the Nespresso VertuoLine and Keurig coffee makers) and pod-free single-serve coffee makers. Full-size drip coffee makers are great for families, but sometimes you just don’t need 12 cups of coffee!