• Richard McDonough

Co-Movement Gym: A is A Health Podcast S1E19 - Is Coffee Good or Bad For You?

Some fun facts about coffee. It’s the most popular drug on Earth (caffeine), 50% of Americans report drinking coffee every day, Finland is the number 1 coffee consuming nation in the world, and coffee is the 2nd most traded commodity in the world (after oil).

Some of the negative impact of coffee on health. Usually the negative effects are short term. For example, it can spike blood pressure acutely (maybe not good for people with already high blood pressure). Additionally, over consumption can cause jitteriness or anxiety.

Is coffee dehydrating? There is often confusion around this. Pure caffeine is a diuretic, and can dehydrate you, but coffee (the drink) is not dehydrating because it contains so much water. Overall, coffee actually has a net hydrating effect.

Another negative is that coffee affects sleep. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, preventing you from getting sleepy. Caffeine also impairs melatonin secretion (an important sleep hormone) and can disrupt your circadian rhythm.

Andy and Ricky discuss coffee metabolism. Some people metabolize it quickly (which shortens the effects), while others metabolize it slowly (which results in prolonged effects).

Caffeine and cortisol. Caffeine does raise the stress-hormone cortisol. For some people this is probably not a concern, but for people who are over-stressed already the addition of coffee might be problematic.

Ricky and Andy discuss their own coffee consumption. Both are fairly regular coffee drinkers.

There is a tolerance/addictive quality to coffee. At first, one cup makes you feel great, but if you continue using it regularly, you’ll find you need to drink more to get the same effect. For this reason, we recommend cycling your use. Additionally, there may be withdrawal symptoms (headaches, irritability, etc.) when discontinuing coffee after regular usage.

Coffee does have health benefits. Andy lists some of the possible benefits (based on epidemiological research). These include: modest reduction in all cancer types, protection against dementia and ALZ, reduced risk of Parkinson’s, better blood sugar control, improved insulin sensitivity, improved endothelial function, reduced risk of stroke, reduced risk of gallstones, lower inflammation, improvements in cholesterol (it boosts HDL), antioxidant effects, and reduced sun damage to skin.

Ricky mentions a study showing that the more coffee you drink, the less likely you are to develop type 2 diabetes.

Ricky likes consuming coffee before his workouts. He notices improvement in mental focus, allowing him to perform better in his workouts. He also feels that it gives him more stamina in workouts, as well as an ability to push harder when he needs to. Andy likes coffee before a workout for the same reasons.

There are also cognitive benefits to coffee. It has been shown to boost executive functioning, improve working memory, stimulates creativity and motivation, and improves mood.

Coffee is an appetite suppressant. It can be used strategically to help you avoid snacking at times that you don’t want to.

Coffee might be especially good in combination with a low-carb or ketogenic diet. It enhances the effectiveness of these diets by improving fatty acid mobilization and metabolism.

Coffee also enhances the benefits of fasting. One major benefit of fasting is autophagy, and coffee can increase the rate of autophagy, probably by inhibiting mTOR.

Andy and Ricky discuss the benefits of matcha tea and green tea. Both of these have similar benefits to coffee, but with less caffeine.

Tips: if coffee makes you jittery, try taking a supplement called L-theanine with it. This has been shown to reduce the jitters associated with coffee.

Don’t abuse coffee by allowing it to become a crutch. If you need coffee just to function in the morning then you probably have other things to address, most likely proper sleep and/or nutrition.

Tips: limit coffee in the afternoon and especially the evening.

One of the biggest problems with coffee involve the things people add to it. Typical creamers and sweeteners are not healthy and should be avoided. If you are going to add anything to coffee, make it cream, half and half, butter, etc. (healthy fats), and if you need a sweetener try stevia instead of sugar.

Andy talks about his super-breakfast, which often includes coffee.

Andy and Ricky give a final verdict on coffee. Overall, it has some down-side and some up-side, but probably a net upside for most people. As long as you don’t abuse it, we feel that it can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

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