“Ahhhhh” the sound we all make after taking our first sip of morning coffee. One sip becomes one cup, one cup becomes two, and for some people two cups becomes over one full pot of coffee… in ONE day! As a nation we love it, thats clear. But what is the deal with coffee? Some common questions that I'll hit on are...
Is it good or bad for me?
What can make coffee bad/unhealthy for me?
How much coffee should I have in a day?
Does it dehydrate me?
How come coffee doesn’t affect me like it used to?
Is it okay to drink coffee before working out?
1. Is Coffee Good or Bad for me? What are some health benefits/risks?
This is probably the biggest question people have regarding coffee, because there are just too many conflicting arguments on the topic, and it really just depends who you ask! On the health side, coffee is high in antioxidants, linked to a reduced risk of many different types of disease, and caffeine can stimulate short term brain function and boost your metabolism and exercise performance.
On the unhealthy side, coffee can cause anxiety and disrupt sleep in some people, and caffeine can be addictive to some people and missing just a cup or two per day can lead to withdrawal.
If you’re someone who already has anxiety or sleep issues then coffee is likely not for you. However, for the average person it has been shown through several studies that coffee is not only okay to drink, it actually has many health benefits as well.
2. What can make coffee bad/unhealthy for me?
As already discussed, coffee in itself is not bad for you, but if you aren’t careful about what is added to your coffee on a daily basis, you may be setting your diet up for disaster. Black coffee has numerous health benefits, add in a little skim milk or light cream and you’re still doing alright. However with the way coffee is prepared these days, your daily 1, 2, or 3 cups can be very detrimental to your health. How many times have you been in line at Dunkin Donuts and seen the person in front of you order a large coffee with extra cream and extra extra sugar? (Or maybe even made that order yourself?) In looking at a few nutrition labels from Dunkin Donuts I found two examples of coffee whose nutritional numbers may shock you. One was a Caramel Iced Coffee with Cream, and the other was Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee with Cream. Roughly 350 calories in each drink, and 50g of sugar (this is without adding extra cream or sugar). Thats more sugar than a can of soda! Does this drink still seem healthy to you? Hopefully not. So to reiterate, its what you add to the coffee afterwards that can make it unhealthy. Black or with skim milk is best option.
3. How much coffee should I have in a day?
This question really depends on the individual. I know people who just drink one cup of coffee in the morning, and others who drink over a pot or two throughout the entire day up until about 9pm! Coffee will affect everyone differently, so its up to you to determine how your body processes it. For example, if you drink too much and feel jittery or can't sleep that night, just cut back on your consumption the following day. If you’re someone who can drink coffee all day and it doesn’t bother you what-so-ever, then go for it. There has been no studies with proof to evidence that you should do otherwise.
4. Does coffee dehydrate you?
Before I ever started drinking coffee I kept hearing about how it would dehydrate you and therefor it was no good for people who liked to exercise. Here we are 10-15 years later and quite the opposite has been proven true. There have been studies which have shown that coffee actually hydrates you similar to water if you were to drink the same amount. So if this were one of the main reasons you weren’t drinking coffee before, you can forget about that one. Of course, you don’t want to completely replace water with coffee… it is still very important to drink plenty of water continuously throughout the day.
5. How come coffee doesn’t affect me like it used to?
If you’ve been drinking coffee everyday for a while now, you may have noticed that it does not have quite the same effect on you that it used to. This is because the body develops a tolerance for the caffeine over time and therefore the individual would have to ingest more coffee (either more at one time or more cups throughout the day) to have that same effect occur. Unless you’re drinking black (or w/ skim milk) coffee, this can add hundreds of unwanted calories to your daily diet!
6. Is it okay to drink coffee before a workout?
Its not only okay to do this, but actually recommended! Coffee has been shown to boost your metabolism and increase exercise performance. You will be more focused while working out, your muscles will fatigue slower, and you’ll burn more calories through increased metabolism. It is recommended to drink a cup of black (or w/ skim milk) coffee roughly 30-60 minutes before exercise. Immediately before and throughout your workout you will want to stay well hydrated with water. Always carry a water bottle with you, this way you’ll be reminded to drink more often rather than walking back and forth to the water fountain every 2-3 sets.
To wrap it all up, coffee is a wonderful thing. However it is easily made to be unhealthy with all the extras (cream, sugar, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, etc... ) added to it. Drink your coffee black or with skim milk and you’re in the clear. If you get anxiety and/or have trouble sleeping it's time to dial back on your consumption of coffee a little bit. Drink it before your workout for a nice natural boost!
Until next time, Enjoy.