I have no issues with coffee. On its own, it is a healthy beverage that provides a wide array of health benefits including:
-reduced post-workout muscle soreness
-source of fiber
-lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia
-helps increase the metabolism and burn fat
-improve physical and cognitive performance
-source of essential nutrients and b vitamins
-lowers risk of type 2 diabetes
-protective effects on the liver
-can help with depression symptoms
-contains a huge dose of anti-oxidants
The only problem I’ve had with coffee is when clients 1) overdo consumption and 2) add things to it that aren’t on their diet to each cup. Here’s the problem:
1) Overconsumption. Coffee is a stimulant and stimulants increase the fight or flight hormones in the body. These hormones are really a double-edged sword because while they can be helpful and do things like increase energy levels, mobilize stored fat and help you focus, they can also be responsible for some undesired effects such as increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol when they are chronically elevated throughout the day. Combine this with the typical stress that we deal with in a day and it’s not hard for the coffee junkie to be left with unbalanced cortisol levels that can wreak havoc on the body, store body fat and even prevent you from reaching your physique goals. Clients that are constantly drinking coffee all day long tend to have higher levels of cortisol compared to those that consume in moderation.
(side note: chronically elevated levels of cortisol are associated with an abdominal fat distribution pattern. Lowering your cortisol levels can help to reduce abdominal and truncal body fat. Elevated levels of cortisol can also make it more difficult to build muscle, because it’s literally eating away at muscle, breaking it down faster than it can build itself up)
So the question becomes, what constitutes overconsumption. While this will vary from client to client, what I generally like to recommend is: if you are also consuming any type of thermogenics or stimulant-based energy supplements and fat burners (i.e. ECGY, clen, etc), you really need to watch your coffee consumption or build it into your stack as the caffeine component (factor in that there is about 100 mg of caffeine per cup (250 ml) of regular coffee). If you take your thermogenic/fat burner stack twice per day, then you would take your coffee at these same times and not in between doses. This would equate to a max of two servings of a medium to large coffee per day. For a client that is not on any type of stimulants, they can increase this to three servings of a medium to large coffee per day, spread out by about 3-4 hours each. Any more than this amount would constitute overconsumption and start working against you.
2) Adding junk to coffee. Clients tend to overlook the calories they are adding to coffee and undervalue it’s impact. Here is something to consider:
2 tablespoons cream = 39 cals, 3.4 g fat
2 packets sugar – 22 cals, 6 g sugar
x 4 coffees per day = 244 cals, 24 g sugar, 11.5g fat added to your daily totals.
Bottom line – it all ads up and not in a good way. These are empty calories that aren’t doing your body any good but to be converted and stored away as fat. In addition to that, you should factor in the insulin spike/raise in blood sugar that will accompany the added extra calories that acts to shut down any type of fat burning that you would get from a black coffee.
Other types of ‘junk’ would be thinks like artificial flavorings and sweeteners. Although lower in calories, these really aren’t much better than the real deal and can also negatively impact your metabolism and the way you break down and process foods. (See my note on artificial sweeteners for more info)
If you are unable to drink your coffee black, the best things to add would be things like stevia drops and unsweetened almond milk. These will have less of a negative impact on blood sugar and metabolism.
Bottom line / Coach’s closing comments
– It’s ok to consume coffee in moderation and be aware of what you are adding to your coffee!
-Try to build your coffee into your doses of thermogenics/fat burners and not in between doses. Give your adrenals a little break!