I got the idea for this post a couple days ago when my brother called me a coffee addict. I drink coffee every once in a while when I feel like I need it, but I used to drink it 2 times a day. He goes, “Did you know caffeine is the most consumed drug?” and I said, “Yeah but coffee is not bad for you like people think, there are health benefits.” He responds, “Yeah, OK.”
So that’s how I got here!
I wanted to talk about coffee, and whether it is “healthy or not.” We all know coffee has caffeine, which is a stimulant. That’s what gives you energy and wakes you up. There are lots of sources of caffeine (supplements, Red Bull, etc.) but I’m going to focus on coffee, because that’s really the only intake of caffeine I use. Plus, 54% of Americans over 18 drink coffee every day!
Random, but remember when people said if you drank coffee it would stunt your growth? I remember when people told us that in middle school about lifting weights too!
Here are results of a study done by Dr. Rob van Dam of the Harvard School of Public Health:
We did not find any relationship between coffee consumption and increased risk of death from any cause, death from cancer, or death from cardiovascular disease. Even people who drank up to six cups of coffee per day were at no higher risk of death.
6 cups?!? I thought my 2 cups was bad…
He goes on to say that most studies base this on 8 oz. cups (not a Venti from Starbucks), and on plain black coffee or with a little milk and sugar (not lattes).
Okay so let’s get into the pros and the cons.
Here is another quote from Dr. Rob van Dam:
Research over the past few years suggests that coffee consumption may protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, and liver cirrhosis.
Other articles I found support this claim as well. Other benefits are:
- “Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close,” says Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a chemistry professor of University of Scranton.
- Increase in energy for workouts. “Scientists and many athletes have known for years, of course, that a cup of coffee before a workout jolts athletic performance, especially in endurance sports like distance running and cycling. Caffeine has been proven to increase the number of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream, which enables people to run or pedal longer.”
- Caffeine may boost your memory.
The increase in energy in workouts is why I like to get GU with a bit of caffeine in it. Or I just drink a cup of coffee before heading to the gym.
Now let’s get to the cons…
- It may affect your sleep.
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Increase in the hormone cortisol, which I talked about regarding my dilemma with running. “Cortisol is normally high in the morning, so if you drink some coffee at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., you should be fine, as cortisol is naturally elevated at that time of day anyway. However, your body may not appreciate coffee as much in the afternoon or evening, when cortisol normally drops. At that point, consider tea or something decaffeinated.”
- Increased calorie and fat consumption if you’re drinking frappucinos and lattes regularly.
- Two articles I came across discussed “that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific — and fairly common — genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. So, how quickly you metabolize coffee may affect your health risk.”
So what are we to do? Basically, it comes down to the age old saying: Everything in moderation.
The first study says up to 6 cups of coffee (!!) is okay, though the studies above say that more than 2 cups could affect you, depending on your genes and how your body metabolizes caffeine. So, just try to stick to 1-2 cups of coffee per day, or switch to tea in the afternoon, which is what I have started doing.
When I need an afternoon boost, I drink peppermint tea or decaf black tea, and I still feel a bit more awake after. I think my body just wants something hot for me to think it’s coffee
Overall, I like to think coffee is okay, and there aren’t that many negatives (unless of course, it’s affecting your sleep, digestion, etc.). If you feel it is affecting you, try an elimination diet and see how you feel.
I actually quit cold-turkey once, and started drinking tea. I noticed that I slept much better at night, which helped me feel more awake during the day and not need caffeine.
So it’s really up to you and how it makes you feel! But at least coffee addicts can rejoice because there are a lot of health benefits
Do you drink coffee regularly? Or tea?
Do you like to use caffeine before runs or workouts?
Follow Reach Your Peak: