Coffee is the second largest consumed and most popular drink in the world behind water. It is proclaimed by many experts and much research to be a Virtual Super-Hero, helping to
Improve Physical Performance 11-12%
Boost the Metabolism 3-11%
Protect the brain from degenerative illnesses such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers by 32-65%
Lower the risk of Liver Cancer by 40%
Lower the risk of Type II Diabetes, Burn Fat and Improve our mood and can in turn even improve our Lifespan.
Is this all True?? – How is this Possible??
Coffee does indeed contain a multitude of beneficial chemical compounds including a high level of antioxidants that protect the body from cell damage and degradation.
One recent study in Japan showed that Coffee makes up 47% of peoples Polyphenol intake in their diets. These polyphenols are highly potent antioxidants and fight inflammation, DNA damage and also protect aging arteries.
Another recent study in China looked at over 330,000 total participants and the effects of coffee upon them and came up with the result that Coffee had a very large protective effect against depression. In fact every cup of coffee drank reduced the risk of depression by 8%
Coffee’s main active ingredient is in fact Chlorogenic Acid. Studies in Mice and Rats have shown that Chlorogenic Acid can reduce Body weight, Reduce Fat absorbed from the diet and reduce fat stored in the liver. Obviously all highly beneficial health improvements.
Aside from these Health benefits found in research papers and studies, one thing for sure that I think we can all testify to is the fact that Coffee most definitely Perks us up!
Coffee most definitely improves my workouts, making me sharper, faster and potentially stronger.
The science behind this obvious reaction is that the Caffeine in Coffee blocks adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine is a hormone released from our central nervous system that plays a major role in our brain regulation. Upon waking and throughout the day its release steadily increases. When it is at its lowest concentration we are at our most alert and awake but as it Peaks later in the day it starts to inhibit the arousal neurons in the brain and encourage our sleepiness!
Coffee blocks these receptors in the brain and simultaneously releases other neuro- transmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine. This having a two-fold effect of blocking the hormone that drives sleep and releasing the hormones responsible for “The Fight or Flight response” in our bodies and puts us in a state of emergency alertness. We therefore have a short-term reduction in tiredness with improved reactions, alertness, concentration, mood and overall physical performance. The most eye catching recent research however came out last year In a study of nearly Half a Million British adults aged between 40-69; The study showed that Coffee Drinkers had a 10-15% lower risk of death over a 10 year period than the non-coffee drinkers.
Now before we all rush to our coffee pots and start pouring several more cups down our necks ??!!! …… Is there any negatives to drinking a large amount of coffee??
First thing to note is that the sweet spot for beneficial results comes at about 300mg caffeine per day. After this the benefits become negligible, but the negatives also start to increase.
To provide some perspective a standard cup of coffee contains between 85-100mg,
Many Pre-Workout drinks contain between 150-250mg and a Starbucks Café Latte Venti contains 250-300mg. As a good guideline 2-3 standard cups of coffee at home should be optimal before you start to flip the benefits on its head and your improved mood turns to irritability, your Mental Focus turns to nervous jitteriness and increased Cortisol is released leaving your body and mind over stressed and heading to becoming drained and reliant upon caffeine to function; In fact it is obvious and apparent that the more coffee that you drink that the more reliant you become on drinking increased dosages to reap the same rewards.
Ultimately this leads to sleep disruption, elevated blood pressure, over stressed adrenal glands and a large causing factor towards a physical burnout. One thing to most definitely be aware of for us keen exercisers intent upon making physical gains and progress is that you should never drink coffee after your workouts.
Coffee as already mentioned causes the release of Cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone released from our adrenal glands during periods of mental stress and after our physical exertions when our body is under stress. Its regulation and balance alongside other hormones is essential for recovery, repair and assisting in regeneration from our physical stress. However too much cortisol has a multitude of negative effects to our physique and our physical wellbeing. Too much Life stress, Physical stress and Stress from our workout can lead to our systems being flooded with cortisol for over prolonged periods. Combine this with added cortisol release from coffee and your adrenal glands are over worked and your system has excessive cortisol which in turn leads to no physical gains and total physical breakdown. I can in fact lay total medical testimony to this and will tell my story in a later BLOG Suffice to say I am now back in top Physical condition after years of recovery but now only drink 1 Cup of Good coffee per day and NEVER post 10am or after my workout
Another thing to be aware of is that the coffee bean is the crop most heavily sprayed with pesticides in the world and in its production process it is rinsed with chemicals and solvents leaving traces of these compounds in our beverage.
Roasted Coffee in fact contains a high level of acrylamides which is a carcinogenic compound and may cause cancer whilst decaffeinated coffee goes through a process that eliminates a lot of the beneficial aspects of coffee and increases its percentage of unwanted chemicals.
So what is the best coffee to drink?
As mentioned already coffee’s most active and beneficial Ingredient is Chlorogenic Acid (CGA) and so firstly we should look for the coffee with the highest concentration of CGA; These coffees are grown at the highest altitudes such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Columbia.
Artisan produced Organic Coffee’s generally have 50% more CGA than the household name coffee purchased from supermarket shelves. Caffeinated Coffee has 25% more CGA and ‘LESS TOXINS’ than Decaffeinated Coffee and flavoured coffee also has lower levels of CGA.
Never choose a Dark Roast Coffee as the process involved in this production destroys CGA whilst also increasing the dangerous potentially cancer producing carcinogen, acrylamide Fresh Ground coffee beans are also generally always higher in CGA than the pre-ground beans
So in summary 2-3 Cups of an Artisan Brand, Organic, Medium Roast Coffee from Kenya or Columbia is Perfect !! Drink this in the first half of the day and never after your workout and you could be onto a Winner!
I will leave you with one thought however….
If there was a drink that gave you all of these benefits AND MORE ….. WITHOUT ANY OF THE NEGATIVES would that not be a better choice??
My article on GREEN TEA will be coming shortly ……