Cuppa Jo & ready to go.
Wake up time, 5:00 am, my alarm persists and I’m up by 5:20am at the latest. I have a strict, timed routine in the mornings which is determined by always having breakfast. No matter what happens I need to eat in the mornings. This is what sets me up for the day, firing my metabolism, regulating my blood sugar levels and maintaining my leptin levels at base. Regardless of my morning routines, the one thing I have in mind and look forward to the most is that coffee fix. Addiction? Maybe.
Firstly I’m going to go through the benefits of coffee and then go on to explain how coffee can also be damaging towards your fitness goals and health. Of course, like anything in life, if you use it and abuse it it’s probably going to be bad for you.
I always try and limit my consumption between 1-2 cups a day. If I choose to have one as a morning booster I won’t allow myself to have another, unless, on that day I’ll be doing a killer workout and have a cup as my pre-workout. Some people love coffee others not so much. Some will say it has great health benefits and others will tell you the opposite. I am a coffee lover. I love the smell, flavour and cult but, as I will explain, too much can be bad for you. In the studies I looked at, coffee had a negative effect on health but these were related to high-risk behaviour influences. They showed that smokers and physically inactive people usually drank a lot of coffee every day. Heavy coffee drinkers were linked to an increase risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, irregular heart beat… the list goes on. Although all these badly affect our health, it must be noted that the studies were linked to those who consumed a very high amount of coffee and usually in conjunction with smoking and an inactive lifestyle.
If you are relatively healthy and take part in physical activity you can reap the benefits of a good cup of coffee. One of my favourites is its ability to improve physical performance and to burn fat. Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), is a term us trainers use to gage how hard you are exerting yourself during a workout. Several studies in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sport have demonstrated that the ingestion of caffeine pre-workout can increase endurance and boost your workout by lowering your RPE, meaning your pain threshold increases. So next time you hit the weights or treadmill, you will be able push at harder intensities during your set or running interval. In the same study, results showed that fat oxidation was higher in those who consumed caffeine 60min prior to exercise. Coffee also helps to boost metabolism as it elevates the thermogenic effect and helps to mobilise fatty acids, making them more available during exercise. These results, however, showed less of a significant difference as we aged. Other great benefits from coffee without going into detail include: lower risk of type II diabetes and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
There’s no doubt that coffee is a great pre-workout drink but what about after you workout? When we train, at the right intensities, we put tremendous stress on our bodies forcing it to adapt and progress to get fitter and stronger. This naturally elevates the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone is known to inhibit fat burning and muscle building. When we drink a strong cup of coffee, the same happens and cortisol levels rise. So, the last thing you want is to ingest caffeine post-workout as it will slow down the metabolism of cortisol in the body and impair recovery from your efforts.
So, coffee consumption can be good and bad for you depending on how much you drink and when but, my question is, what coffee are you drinking? A cappuccino, large hazelnut latte and other funky named coffees? These massed produced coffees are just pure milk and sugar. If you are drinking any of these then you may as well forget any benefits I may have mentioned earlier. The amount of sugar in these options is above 10g per drink. Not to mention the lower fat versions which are even higher in sugar. If you add any syrup to your coffee such as caramel flavour syrup, you will be adding 5g of sugar for every pump. Then you add the hot milk which is more sugar and then you may top it off with some brown sugar or whipped cream. Don’t forget the chocolate sprinkles. And there, you just transformed your natural, organic, healthy, fresh coffee into a monster-calorific, sugary, slightly caffeinated, fat-building liquid dessert. Stay well away from those bad boys. Instead, opt for a freshly grounded espresso, Spanish cortado or macchiato. Enjoy!