Does Coffee Cause Diarrhea? (Explained)

Coffee can cause diarrhea. Caffeine is a known stimulant that can promote peristalsis and cause the production of bile. It can also stimulate colonic motor activity.

Getting a jump start on the day by brewing your coffee in the morning gives you all the energy you need. Have you noticed that you need to go to the washroom more frequently after your morning coffee, whether you got it from the coffee shop or made it at home? You’re not the only one experiencing this. A lot of people feel the need to go to the bathroom after drinking coffee. You may experience diarrhea after drinking coffee.

Let’s dive deeper into this and find out more.

Let’s begin.

Will Coffee Give Me The Runs?

Coffee has caffeine in it which is responsible for giving you the runs. It activates your colon by releasing gastrin and irritating intestinal muscles.

Throughout the world, most people get their caffeine from coffee. No matter if you prefer a straight-up shot of espresso or a flat white, this beverage can be brewed in numerous ways to suit your taste. In this way, coffee is a staple of the modern world. Nevertheless, it can give you the runs. What causes it?

Coffee contains caffeine, which is responsible for making you alert and boosting your energy. This study suggests that it also stimulates intestinal contractions and colon contractions, which makes your stomach churn.

You may also experience an increase in gastrin levels in your body that activates the colon. Gastrin is a digestive hormone signaling that there’s food in your digestive tract.

Those who add dairy products, such as cow’s milk and cream to their coffee may experience diarrhea because of being lactose intolerant.

According to a report, it was determined that approximately 65 percent of the human population is lactose intolerant. Thus it’s quite common for people to have lactose intolerance, and diarrhea is one of its symptoms.

On top of all of this, coffee can activate the sympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for our body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ response, which causes diarrhea by irritating the digestive tract.

Is Coffee a Laxative?

Things that make you poop more frequently and easily are laxatives. Despite the fact that constant research is still underway, coffee is generally known to function as a laxative.

Coffee is one of the most complex drinks in the world. Several things happen at once when you drink this complex drink. But it’s mainly known for waking you up and giving you a short quick boost of energy. By releasing dopamine in your brain, it also lifts your mood. But could coffee be a laxative?

Laxatives are chemicals that are found in medicine or naturally in foods and drinks which promote frequent bowel movements and pooping without causing discomfort. And one such laxative is coffee. We can safely conclude that coffee is a laxative since it contributes to bowel movements. You see, gastrin is released in order to allow the colon to run at full speed.

a glass of cold brew coffee

Drinking coffee stimulates more gastrin release than normal, which causes bowel movements. And gastrin causes muscles to relax and contract in waves, a process known as peristalsis.

Peristalsis helps food waste i.e. poop reach its destination. ready to be pushed out through the rectum. Furthermore, cholecystokinin stimulates the production of digestive enzymes and bile, which are essential for pooping.

Should I Quit Coffee If It Gives Me Diarrhea?

There’s absolutely no need for that. With a few tweaks here and there, you can enjoy your coffee every day. Just remember to keep your consumption moderate.

The solution to diarrhea caused by coffee is not to completely stop drinking it. Making small but valuable changes headed in the right direction can help you still enjoy your morning cup of coffee.

You see, coffee contains caffeine, acids from coffee, dairy, and sugar, all of which can cause you to have diarrhea. If you want to avoid these issues, make sure you don’t drink more than 400 mg of caffeine throughout the day.

It doesn’t matter if you get your caffeine from tea or an energy drink, just keep in mind that it should be taken moderately. You will also notice an improvement in your bowel movements once you start choosing plant-based milk and cream for your coffee. I wrote an article about that here that you can check out if you’re interested.

Ensure that you eat breakfast with your coffee and not cause acid reflux in your gut as coffee on an empty stomach can trigger that too.

You may also stop consuming coffee altogether if you are still suffering from acute diarrhea or want immediate relief. However, if you’re a regular coffee drinker and you decide to immediately give up coffee, you may face caffeine withdrawal. Although the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal last only for a couple of days, they are not persistent. They are, however, very annoying and you can’t really do anything about it.

These are:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Low energy

What Do I Do If Coffee Gives Me Diarrhea?

a glass of cortado

The thing to do here is to choose any dark roast because it will not cause diarrhea. And if you avoid dairy, omit sugars, keep track of your caffeine intake throughout the day, and don’t exceed the suggested limit, you’re good.

You may get annoyed if you have to visit the restroom over and over again in the earliest hours of the day. Nevertheless, taking steps to prevent this is essential, isn’t it? How can this be resolved? Should we give up coffee altogether?

Actually, you don’t have to stop drinking coffee just to stop diarrhea from occurring. Change things up and take other options instead.

Opt For Dark Roast Coffee

As you might know, there are different roast levels available for coffee beans. The majority of people prefer medium roast coffee beans because of their rounded, well-balanced taste and high caffeine levels. For people who suffer from caffeine problems and have diarrhea, dark roast coffee is recommended. As they are roasted for longer, the caffeine content is lower.

Make sure to be careful when drinking coffee from local diners. Diner coffees are known to contain a lot more caffeine than you’d expect – 100 mg per cup as opposed to an espresso shot which has only 40 mg. lighter roasts contain the most caffeine, so avoiding them is best. The medium roast is also considerable but the dark roast is much better.

Here I’ve made a table consisting of medium to dark roast coffee with their respective taste and caffeine content.

Roast NameRoast TypeTaste ProfileCaffeine Per 8 oz Cup
AmericanMediumLittle Sweeter95 mg
CityMediumBalanced With Acidity90 mg
Full CityDarkRoasty88 mg
ViennaDarkBittersweet & Caramel85 mg
FrenchDarkHints Of Caramel & Bitter80 mg
ItalianDarkBurnt 80 mg

Decaffeinated Coffee

If you think this whole dark roast thing is not working out for you, you can go for decaf coffee. This type of coffee only contains about 2% or 3% caffeine, that’s it.

Though some say it tastes a bit flat and is watery due to the caffeine pulled out, this is also an option for you when you are trying to avoid caffeine to cause diarrhea.

Have a look at this video for more info on decaf coffee.

a superb video

No Sugar

Coffee should not be sweetened with any kind of sugar. This can be difficult but try it. It might not be as bad as you think.

For those who still desire sweetness in their coffee, you should choose natural sweeteners over artificial sweeteners. Synthetic sweeteners are indigestible, cause pain and diarrhea. The majority of natural sugars come from plants and don’t cause problems.

No Dairy

Many people are lactose intolerant to one degree or another, so it is best to steer clear of dairy products while drinking coffee. Consider switching to nut-based or skim milk instead of cow’s milk.

Nut-based and skim milk also add nutrients to your coffee. In addition to those, you can use non-dairy and unsweetened creamers in place of heavy cream. The result will be the same richness as dairy, but you won’t have to go to the loo again and again.

Some plant-based and nut-based milk that go well with coffee are:

  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Oat milk
  • Soy milk

Will Coffee Cause Explosive Poop?

Coffee can cause explosive pooping for you if you have consumed it on an empty stomach and your caffeine intake is more than the suggested limits.

Drinking coffee is very good for humans. It is jam-packed with antioxidants and prevents many diseases like Dementia, liver cancer, etc. But if you consume coffee on an empty stomach, it can cause explosive poop and severe diarrhea for you.

A person clutching their stomach

The reason is that coffee is very acidic in nature. Once it enters the stomach, it can severely irritate the stomach lining and cause the stomach to release more digesting acid, causing more and more damage. This will evidently cause diarrhea.

But if your system has had more caffeine than usual and you drank coffee on an empty stomach then that is a recipe of explosive poop. This will cause flatulence in your system and will cause diarrhea.

So, it’s better to avoid excessive caffeine and hot coffee on an empty stomach if you don’t want explosive poop.

Bottom Line

There are millions of people who consume coffee as a caffeine source. It has the ability to give you the runs although it is a significant part of our lives.

Surprisingly, this happens quite often. By making major changes, it can be minimized. However, cutting back on coffee can cause caffeine withdrawals if you completely stop drinking coffee.

Coffee can cause diarrhea, but this can be avoided by making a few changes here and there. First, don’t consume coffee on an empty stomach as caffeine can irritate the stomach and promote peristalsis. Second, avoid putting sugar or any dairy products in your drink as these additives have been known to stimulate the colon.

You can also opt for dark roast or decaf to avoid diarrhea.

Marty Spargo

Caffeine aficionado and coffee student (if there's such a thing!). I've come to love coffee in recent years and share what I learn along the way on this website.

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