Coffee poops are real. And not just because you’re sucking down oily java from the gas station. When coffee stimulates your body’s energy, it’s also stimulating other urges. Like sweet, sweet intestinal contractions. But why does coffee make you poop? Join us on a magical adventure of weird science that zero researchers can agree on.
Reasons Coffee Makes You Poop
The coffee-poop connection comes down to three factors:
- Caffeine, a stimulant
- Dairy, an irritant
- Your own gut hormones, the wild card
Though coffee doesn’t make everyone drop a load, research shows that it does give one-third of the population that tingly bowel feeling, with women being generally more impacted than men.
Caffeine Activates the Colon
No doctor can agree on this statement, but many studies have shown that the caffeine in coffee can relax the anal sphincter (aka your poop hatch) while stimulating receptors in your gut. These receptors cause your stomach and colon to contract.
When you add caffeine to the mix, the contractions begin to speed up to push your poop towards the rectum in record time. Research has shown that caffeine makes the colon 60% more active than water and 23% more active than decaf coffee.
Here’s where things get murky: There is no conclusive evidence that caffeine from soft drinks or tea has the same effect. AND decaf coffee can also bring on morning poops. WTFeces? We can only suggest that coffee’s cumulative triple threat (caffeine + dairy additives + gut hormones) is what summons the sh*tstorm.
Dairy Can Promote Bowel Movement
Like your coffee lighter than Scandinavian wood? Adding milk, cream or dairy powders introduces lactose, which can encourage a bowel explosion if you have any sort of intolerance. When the enzymes that break lactose down are on the weaker side, your gut bacteria end up digesting them. This leads to gassiness and bloating, which then draws water into your colon and BOOM! One way ticket to Diarrhea Town.
Try switching to a lactose-free milk or dairy-free creamer. Also consider the breakfast items you’re eating with your morning cup – like yogurt, buttered toast and cheesy eggs – which will have a compound effect on your coffee poops.
Coffee May Stimulate Gut Hormones
Coffee may activate the release of two peptide hormones called gastrin and cholecystokinin (CCK), which occur in your intestines. Gastrin and CCK can stimulate bowel movements according to research. It is still unclear what component of coffee stimulates the release of these hormones. Why are you such a delicious dark horse, coffee? Who hurt you?
How Fast Does Coffee Make You Poop?
Now that we know why coffee could be making you lose your sh*t, let’s talk ETA. How fast does it happen? Muscle contractions can take place in your colon in as little as 4 minutes. And one study found that 29% of participants felt the urge to take a dump within twenty minutes of drinking a cup of coffee! Other lifestyle factors like diet, physical activity and sleep patterns can affect how quickly you drop your plop.
Can Decaf Coffee Make You Poop?
Studies have found that decaf coffee can have a laxative effect, too. Scientists have observed – by way of some very invasive studies – that the chemical makeup of any coffee can stimulate the distal colon, which helps push waste out of the body more quickly.
While decaf coffee can still summon the poop gods, caffeinated coffee does the job faster.
Does Coffee Make Everyone Poop?
Around one-third of the population’s buttholes seem to be affected by coffee. Researchers have yet to confirm the theory that coffee makes people poop. Some people may be more sensitive to coffee, while others may not feel any effects on their stomachs from coffee.
Excessive consumption of any caffeinated drink may cause loose stools or diarrhea. And caffeine within coffee can act as a stimulant, which might induce bile production that promote bowel movements.
Is Coffee Good for Constipation?
Yes! ...and no. While coffee may have a laxative effect in some people, whether it's the coffee or the caffeine is unclear. Coffee's effect is not solely due to caffeine since decaf coffee has shown the same or an even greater effect. Using coffee as a laxative also has its dangers. The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking less than 400mg of caffeine a day. That’s about as much as four cups of coffee… that’s SO much coffee. If you go above this amount you will likely experience diarrhea and loose stool as well as heart palpitations and muscle tremors.
What other foods or beverages make you poop?
If you’re looking to cut down on your coffee intake but still need aid in pooping, add more fiber to your diet. You can add fiber as a supplement or consume foods like nuts, beans or whole grains. Fermented foods are also known to help bowels move stool out of the colon regularly. Try adding yogurts, ciders, kimchi or sauerkraut to your diet. Finally, hydrate. It’s the #1 way to keep things moving.
How To Stop Coffee From Making You Poop
It is possible to regulate your poop reflex after drinking coffee. The trick is learning which part of your morning brew is making you blow brown. It may be some or all, depending on how sensitive your body is.
Some things to try:
- Drink Darker Roast – Darker roast coffees contain somewhat less caffeine than lighter roast coffees.
- Try Arabica Grounds – These beans are less acidic than Robusta beans, which can be gentler on your gut.
- Drink Coffee After You’ve Gone – You can’t make more brown if there’s no more chocolate in the pipes.
- Switch to Plant-Based Milks – Soy, oat, coconut and nut milks may be kinder to your insides.
- Drink Plant-Based Beans – There are many beanless alternatives made from fruits and chicory that also give you sustainability points.
- Reduce Your Intake or Try Decaf – This is last straw sort of stuff. You can also experiment with other vitamin enhancement drinks that give you the buzz without affecting your backside.
Be sure to drink plenty of water if you’re the 1 in 3 coffee-drinkers who makes a mud pie after your morning cup.
Final Thoughts: It’s A Crapchute
If science can’t figure this sh*t out, our humble article won’t. Every cup of coffee is different, just like every body and gut microbiome are different. Experiment with a few of our pointers and keep a poop log (heh) of the results. However coffee stimulates you, TUSHY will always be there to clean up after.