Our friend or foe ?
Many people enjoy a good cup of coffee after a good meal, or whenever they feel the need for a quick boost of energy on a long day.
Other people can’t drink coffee at all, as it makes them jittery, causes them head-aches or makes their heart beat faster and disrupts their sleep.
This makes us wonder: is coffee, supplying the stimulant drug caffeine, actually good or bad for us ?
In fact, caffeine has long become a widely used ergogenic aid within athletic circles, and with good reason, as caffeine can prove quite beneficial for active individuals. Caffeine makes us feel more energetic and increases our basal metabolic rate. Therefore caffeine is a common ingredient in most commercial “fat-burner” supplements. When caffeine is ingested as a pre-work-out supplement about an hour before cardio exercise, it improves endurance and slows the perception of fatigue, thus allowing us to exercise longer, which burns more calories. Strength-training athletes likewise benefit from consuming two cups of coffee – or 300-400 mg of caffeine – before their work-outs, as caffeine increases mental alertness and focus, and enhances blood circulation, which means better work-outs due to a better oxygen supply to the working muscles. Caffeine even reduces perceived muscle pain, which allows to push oneself harder, achieving peak performance within the limits of one’s current physical capability.
While ingesting caffeine in form of capsules has the advantage of getting a standardized amount of caffeine per each capsule, caffeine levels in coffee vary greatly due to the brewing technique, brand and amount used, generally providing between 80 -150 mg per 8 oz. cup; instant coffee contains slightly less.
However, obtaining one’s pre-work-out energy boost from one or two cups of freshly brewed coffee instead of caffeine-capsules should not be disregarded; after all, coffee is far more than just a source of caffeine, as it also provides plenty of other healthy anti-oxidants.
A particular group of these coffee-antioxidants, the so-called quinines, as well as coffee’s content of tocopherols, chlorogenic acid and magnesium, have been shown to improve the body’s insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, thus reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Coffee further supplies a major amount of vitamin B 3, which has a positive effect on our blood fat levels, lowering cardiovascular disease risk.
Drinking at least 2 cups per day can lead to a 25% lower risk of colon cancer, an 80% drop in the risk of liver cirrhosis, and a nearly 50% reduction of the risk of gallstones. Regular coffee consumption has even been found to reduce the risk for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
New research has debunked the long-standing myth that coffee consumption causes dehydration.
With all that explained, it still needs to be said that coffee is not for everyone. Pregnant women and those with a history of heart attack or high blood pressure should probably avoid or limit coffee consumption. However, for most individuals, moderate consumption appears to be far more beneficial than harmful, so long as no sugar and no artifical sweetener is put in. Just make sure to have your final cup of coffee at least six hours before bedtime to prevent potential sleep disruption.
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Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in coffee and cacao beans; by stimulating the brain and nervous system, it helps you to stay alert and prevents premature fatigue.
- Increased focus and arousal;
- Better blood flow throughout the body;
- Increased capacity to burn fat;
- Increased endurance during aerobic exercise;
- Improved speed;
- Ability to work harder due to reducing perceived exertion.