Coffee

Today, let’s look at the potential benefits and drawbacks of one of my favorite things – coffee.

For the sake of discussion, I’m going to include espresso (or the “Nectar of the God’s” as I like to think of it) in the same category as coffee.

First, the benefits:

     It tastes amazing!

      It is loaded with antioxidants that may prevent free radicals from damaging cells.

      Two organic acids found in coffee, caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid, may have a slightly anti-diabetic effect. It appears that these compounds help increase lipolysis, allowing the body to use fatty acids from body fat stores, as opposed to glucose and sugar, as energy.

     It may improve endothelial function and raise HDL, promoting a healthier cardiovascular system.

     There may be a limited value to acute caffeine consumption for reducing feelings of depression.

     Finally, it gives a boost that can help increase work productivity, either during exercise or mental tasks.

The downsides:

     Some of the organic acids within coffee can raise cortisol levels for up to 12 hours after consumption! This can interfere with sleep and exacerbate anxiety issues.

     Coffee is extremely acidic meaning it can cause acid reflux and leach calcium from bones.

     It is high in polyphenols that inhibit proper absorption of iron, leading to anemia.

     Finally, caffeine is a stimulant, a classification for a drug with a “speedy” affect. The fact that it is a drug, with noticeable affects mentally and physically, means there is addiction and withdrawal potential. Also, it can mask other issues due to the artificial energy and buzz it provides.

Now that we’ve looked at the hard facts behind coffee, how exactly should we treat consumption of a substance with such a balanced list of pros and cons?

I would never dare tell you what to do, particularly when it comes to something as beloved as coffee, but I can offer my approach:

I treat coffee as a tasty indulgence and a performance enhancer. By that, I mean, on days I work out, I have a large cup of very dark coffee. This helps me push a little harder in the gym and also leaves me more alert for the rest of my workday. On the days I don’t work out, I make a couple shots of espresso in my stove-top Moka machine.

Then, on Saturdays and holidays, I’ll indulge and have a few extra shots throughout the day.

I have removed coffee from my diet before and noticed a marked improvement in my stress levels throughout the day. For this reason, whenever I take a recovery week from the gym, I have tea instead of coffee or espresso.

I am a rather high-stress individual…my mind is always going a mile a second and I always have a dozen different things on my mind. This, in part, is why I try to be rather conservative with my coffee intake.

For the general public, I’d suggest finishing your coffee in the morning and avoiding it after 12PM.

One thing I’ve done to curtail my desire for coffee is expand my tea palate. As much as I love coffee, there is also a sense of excitement when opening my kitchen cabinet and deciding which, of about a dozen teas, I am in the mood for.

I have a training session in a few moments and would love nothing more than a shot of espresso…but, I’ll brew a mug of Lemon Ginger Yogi tea and, after the first few sips, I’ll be perfectly content.

Maybe give it a try and see how you feel. Let me know!

 

3 thoughts on “Coffee

  1. I liked your post on coffee, well balanced and informative. I try to stay away from regular coffee because of the how jittery it makes me feel, although a good cup of java can be heavenly. But I do like the dark roasted decaffeinated ones. Is there any problems with decaffeination?

    Any ideas on coffee substitutes? And what about chocolate?

    • Thank you for the kind feedback…I’m glad you found some value in this post.
      The literature would suggest that decaf coffee is just as guilty in terms of cortisol levels. It appears that one of the organic acids is the culprit inducing hightened cortisol, as opposed to simply the caffiene content. Also, some decaffeination processes use suboptimal techniques such as employing the use of chemical solvents. My best recommendation would be to see exactly how your coffee is decaffeinated and then, as with regular coffee, enjoy it as you see fit earlier in the day.
      Best coffee substitute would be tea – green tea is quite interesting because it contains caffiene and a few other stimulants but, at the same time, has many different compounds that lower cortisol and mitigate stress. As much as I love the dark, full flavor of coffee, I also enjoy the variety that tea offers. You can pick a different blend based on every setting and mood.
      And chocolate…I think I know what I’ll do for next week’s post! Haha.
      Thanks Nick!

  2. Pingback: Chocolate! | Paul Romasco

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