Coffee has been the subject of controversy for a long time. There have been many studies on the beverage, finding both positive and negative effects. So I want to provide you with a few of the facts as well as my personal opinion.
Is coffee healthy?
Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants which are proven to reduce your risk of colon cancer, liver cancer & type 2 diabetes. In a systematic review and meta-analysis of 28 studies (representing a total 1,109,272 participants), every additional cup of caffeinated coffee consumed in a day was associated with a 9% and 6% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, respectively. However, the concentration of antioxidants reduces significantly if the beans aren’t ground fresh. Coffee beans should be stored whole – not ground – out of direct sun light, in an air tight container and kept for no longer than 2 weeks, if you want to reap the rewards of this antioxidant power house.
Recent research on the effect of coffee on the metabolism showed that your metabolic rate spikes drastically after consuming just one cup of coffee. This means increased oxidation of fat, meaning you burn fat faster or more easily. What it really means is that the caffeine induces a fat-releasing effect called lipolysis. Fat molecules within fat stores are released into free fatty acids. As a result, you have a bunch of free fatty acids floating around in your bloodstream. Your body can use these free fatty acids as fuel for your workout instead of carbs or lean muscle.
Couple that effect with a high intensity, cardio based workout and your fat loss goals just got a whole lot easier! After reading that I now have a cup of black coffee before every cardio based workout. That said I try to limit my intake to 2-3 cups per week. It will become obvious why in the following paragraphs.
Not only does coffee aid fat burning during exercise, but research by The International Society of Sports Nutrition found that coffee actually enhances your physical performance. They found that coffee allowed athletes to train at a higher power output and for longer periods of time. Improved resistance to fatigue is great news for any endurance athletes out there. This research was backed up by The Sports Medical Journal.
During and after training lactic acid can often build up in the working muscles, causing mild to moderate pain. The University of Illinois found that coffee significantly reduces post workout muscle soreness. That said, don’t go drinking a cup after your workout because the consumption of coffee also increases your production of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Elevated levels of cortisol, can lead to proteolysis (the breakdown of proteins), meaning you will actually burn muscle for energy. Making that tough gym session a complete waste of time! It does this by inhibiting collagen formation, decreasing amino acid uptake and inhibiting protein synthesis. Cortisol also acts as a diuretic, which for anyone that doesn’t know, makes you pee more #funfact. Whilst it makes you pee more, a recent study by the American College of Sports Medicine found that caffeine neither reduces hydration nor causes an electrolyte imbalance. So having a cup before an endurance race is no bad idea. In fact, a study that compared the chronic effects of coffee consumption with water concluded that coffee has the same hydrating effects as water. Not to shocking when you think about it.
According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, coffee has the following caffeine content, depending on how it is prepared.
|Serving size||Caffeine content|
|Brewed||7 oz, 207 ml||80–135 mg|
|Drip||7 oz, 207 ml||115–175 mg|
|Espresso||1.5 oz, 45 ml||100 mg|
Take home message
- Drink before workouts, NOT AFTER!
- DO NOT add; sugar (in any form), cream, flavourings etc. just milk if you need it. We are talking about a black coffee or espresso here, not a iced double caramel macchiato.
- Consume in moderation.
- Not all coffee is equal. Grind it yourself, preferably fresh for every cup. If you consume coffee regularly enough for that to become a pain then keep in an air tight container for no more than 2 weeks.
- Ditch the instant coffee!
- Decaf coffee has the same health benefits as caffeinated coffee.