Does Coffee Cause Bloating?

September 29, 2023

Drinking coffee (in moderate amounts) can be healthy, but it can also cause some undesired side effects for people. If you regularly feel bloated, coffee might be the culprit.

Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world each day—making it the second most popular beverage in the world (behind water) (1). However, for some coffee drinkers, the experience of enjoying a cup of coffee can be overshadowed by bloating and other digestive discomforts. In this article, we explore if coffee is the culprit behind bloating, and what you can do about it. 

What Is Bloating?

Bloating is a prevalent digestive concern that's often characterized by sensations of fullness, tightness, or abdominal swelling. This discomfort arises when an excess of gas accumulates within the gastrointestinal tract, leading to the expansion of the stomach and intestines. 

“Bloating happens when gas gets trapped in a small section of your intestines,” says Scott Huber, MD, a gastroenterologist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

While sporadic bloating is typically harmless, it can disrupt daily life and cause distress. If you're consistently experiencing digestive problems, it's advisable to consult your healthcare provider, as they may indicate underlying digestive issues.

What Causes Bloating?

Several factors can contribute to bloating: temporary constipation (often linked to travel or dietary changes), food intolerances, hormonal fluctuations, and notably, an imbalance of gut microbes.

Your gut is home to trillions of microbes, all of which play a crucial role in breaking down food and extracting nutrients. When this delicate harmony is disrupted (through processed foods, antibiotic usage, and high levels of stress), it can lead to increased gas production and temporary, uncomfortable bloating.

In addition to microbial imbalances, certain foods can potentially trigger bloating. For instance, high-fiber foods like legumes and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts can pose digestion challenges for some individuals, leading to bloating. Other common culprits include dairy products, artificial sweeteners, and carbonated beverages.

But what about coffee?

Can Coffee Cause Bloating?

Research actually shows that coffee can have a beneficial impact on gut health. Coffee naturally contains polyphenols, which have demonstrated positive effects on the human digestive tract's microbiome (2).

Moreover, coffee can promote digestion by stimulating alpha-amylase and gastrin, two salivary compounds crucial for carbohydrate breakdown and gastric acid secretion, respectively (3). Additionally, coffee has been observed to expedite gastric emptying, encouraging the stomach to discharge its contents into the small intestine (4).

It's also worth noting that while coffee tends to alleviate bloating in most people, everyone’s body is different and some people may experience an upset stomach, bloating, or discomfort. If that’s you, keep reading…

A womand pouring coffee from a French Press into a mug with a container of NativePath Hazelnut creamer next to her.

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I’m Still Experiencing Bloat After Drinking Coffee…Why?

If you consistently experience bloating after drinking your morning cup of coffee, there are a few things that could be the cause…

Increased Cortisol Secretion

The caffeine in coffee causes your body to produce the hormone cortisol—the same chemical that you produce when you’re stressed or scared (5). 

Unfortunately, your body can’t tell the difference between caffeine and danger on the horizon. Your stress response is the same. While a little bit of stress isn’t bad for you, too much stress can increase your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, leave you with an upset stomach, and increase belly bloat (3, 6).

Increased Stomach Acid Production

The acid in coffee can also irritate your stomach. That irritation can cause swelling in the belly, which presents as bloating in some coffee drinkers. Just like tomatoes, citrus, and chocolate, coffee can irritate your digestive tract and cause irritation—namely, bloating

Lighter roast coffee blends can even increase stomach acid production, worsening heartburn, IBS symptoms and acid reflux triggers (7). It makes it that much more critical that you know what’s in your morning cup.

Excited the Digestive Tract

Coffee gets things moving in your digestive tract. This can be a good thing if you’re suffering from constipation, or a bad thing if you’re dealing with a sensitive stomach. 


Dehydration is another factor that can contribute to bloating. When coffee, which is a diuretic, is consumed, it increases the body’s production of urine and can lead to a loss of fluids and electrolytes, resulting in dehydration. 

When the body is dehydrated, it attempts to compensate by holding on to excess water in an effort to prevent further water loss. This can cause bloating and other symptoms such as bowel issues and abdominal discomfort.

Using Creamer or Sweeteners

If you take your coffee with creamer or milk (cow's milk, to be precise),  this could be a potential factor causing bloating—especially if you’re lactose-intolerant. This wouldn’t come as much of a surprise either, considering that a staggering 68% of the global population has some degree of lactose intolerance or sensitivity (8).

“Lactose intolerance is the most common food intolerance—when your body doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, it can’t digest a dairy sugar called lactose, leading to bloating and diarrhea,” says Dr. Huber.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance may include: 

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Abdomen Pain

If you add a couple of those light pink, blue, or yellow packets to your coffee, you may experience even more bloating and gas. Many artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol and erythritol, may not be easily digested in your body which can cause irritation, such as bloating (9). Bacteria in your intestines feed on these artificial sweeteners and ferment them, which may also lead to excessive gas production.

A womand pouring coffee from a French Press into a mug with a container of NativePath Hazelnut creamer next to her.

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8 Ways to Reduce Your Coffee Bloat

If your stomach is bloating after coffee, there are a few things you can try to reduce the swelling and gassiness you feel.

1. Limit Your Caffeine Intake

Remember when I said that caffeine causes your body to release cortisol (the stress hormone)—which can lead to an upset stomach? Knowing this, it’d be wise to limit your intake to one or two cups of coffee per day.  Since one 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 95 mg of caffeine, this would keep your daily caffeine intake between 100-200 mg (10).

2. Reduce the Additives

Additives such as cream, milk, flavored creamers, and artificial sweeteners are common causes of bloating. Try your coffee without creamer (or switch to a dairy-free alternative) and see how your body reacts. 

You can also try replacing artificial sweetener packets with natural substitutes like stevia, monk fruit, or honey.

NativeTip: Make sure you read the nutrition labels before adding anything to your coffee, specifically diet or lower-sugar products as they may contain artificial sweeteners as well.

3. Drink Your Coffee With a Meal

Drinking coffee on an empty stomach will cause the most acid production. That’s why it’s more likely to lead to bloating and gas than drinking coffee with your breakfast.

4. Get Moving

Incorporating gentle exercise, such as walking or yoga into your daily routine can help to promote healthy digestion and alleviate bloating.

5. Try an Abdominal Massage

Massaging your stomach may help relieve symptoms of tightness, pressure, cramping, and bloating. Start on the right side of your stomach down by the bone of your pelvis. Rub in a circular motion lightly up to the right side till you reach your rib bones. Move straight across to the left side. Work your way down to the left to the hip bone and back up to the belly button for 2-3 minutes. 

You may press a little deeper with your fingers. Spend about 1 minute moving from the right hip bone to the right ribs then 1 minute across the middle (gently) and then 1 minute down to the left bone by your pelvis to the belly button. Repeat the rub, always in a clockwise motion, for 10 minutes (11).

6. Stress-Reducing Exercises

Meditation or relaxation helps to reset the body’s stress cycle. This will ultimately bring your cortisol level back to normal, helping to prevent fat storage and bloating. Breathwork, journaling, meditation, and therapy are all fantastic techniques that can help reduce your stress and lower your cortisol levels.

Wanting to ditch coffee altogether and opt for an energizing breathwork routine? Try this one → This Breathing Exercise Is Better Than Coffee (and It Only Takes 2 Minutes)

7. Drink More Water

Staying well hydrated is crucial if you’re trying to debloat, as drinking water regularly throughout the day can prevent fluid retention caused by dehydration (12). Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily.

8. Probiotics

Probiotics are a type of good bacteria that live in your gut. Incorporating probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut or kombucha into your diet—or taking a probiotic supplement—may also help rebalance the gut microbiome and reduce bloating.

Frequently Asked Questions

Despite the common belief that decaffeinated coffee might be gentler on digestion compared to regular coffee, there isn’t a significant difference. Much like its caffeinated counterpart, decaf coffee can stimulate gastric acid secretion, trigger the digestive process, and promote gastric emptying (13).

A womand pouring coffee from a French Press into a mug with a container of NativePath Hazelnut creamer next to her.

Give Your Morning Coffee A Boost

This 2-in-1 formula combines collagen and MCT powder to start your day off right. 

Add to Cart
Kat Kennedy
Article by

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy is the Fitness and Nutrition Editor at NativePath. With a NASM CPT, NCSF CPT, and NCSF Sports Nutrition Certification, she has a passion for giving people the tools they need to feel healthy, strong, and confident.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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