Caffeine offers a quick energy boost, but it also affects your body in a number of ways.
Small amounts of caffeine in the diet can actually have a beneficial effect. In fact, research has shown caffeine can help increase athletic performance, focus, and alertness. On the other hand, too much caffeine may increase feelings of anxiety, disrupt sleep, and irritate the stomach.
Sources of CaffeineCoffee, one of the most popular caffeinated beverages, is a concentrated source of antioxidants and can be a healthful beverage when not consumed alongside high amounts of sugar. Research has shown that coffee can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cirrhosis, and even early mortality.
Green tea, which has less caffeine than coffee, is also heavily researched for its antioxidant capacity. Interestingly, in both cases, it seems that the beneficial health effects of coffee and green tea are more likely due to their polyphenol content rather than their caffeine content.
Caffeine is also naturally found in cocoa beans and kola nuts.
Caffeine in the DietAs you may have guessed, not all caffeine sources are created equal. Energy drinks, for example, can be high in sugar and additives. Large designer coffee drinks can also be high in sugar and can pack over one-third of a day’s recommended calories. Historically, a serving of coffee was about eight ounces, but today, portions of up to 64 ounces are not uncommon. Although coffee has a negligible amount of calories alone, when paired with things like whipped cream, flavored syrups, and chocolate, the calories (and added sugar) can increase significantly and actually lead to inflammation (rather than the anti-inflammatory effects of black coffee).
If you don’t currently include caffeine sources in your diet, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that you should start. But if you do, you may want to avoid caffeine sources at least six hours before you plan to go to bed so it won’t disrupt your sleep.
Including caffeine in the diet can be very bio-individual – some people look forward to their morning cup of coffee as a relaxing ritual, whereas others find that even small amounts of caffeine can cause jitteriness. Small to moderate amounts of caffeine can be part of a healthy diet, but if you find yourself constantly reaching for caffeine sources to get through your day, you may need to adjust your sleep schedule.
Reduce Your Coffee IntakeIf too much coffee can affect blood sugar then it only makes sense to reduce your caffeine intake. However, you don’t want to reduce your coffee intake at the same time you are reducing your caloric intake unless you have super willpower. Less calories and less caffeine usually means a reduction in energy which could lead to binge eating. A smarter move is to reduce your coffee intake for a week prior to the diet. Once the diet starts, you can slightly increase your coffee levels. It’s good to have a clear head when you’ve got an empty stomach.
Try my Ashwaganda Latte
How To Make
- Warm the milk, then add the powdered spices and maple syrup or honey
- Stir well, using the whisk to blend, adjusting for sweetness if necessary
- Pour into a nice cup and drink an hour before bed
Coffee and Exercise
There's more evidence that drinking coffee will support your exercise routine, which can help you power through your workouts and lose more weight. One study, published in PLoS One in 2013, found that cyclists who drank coffee or took caffeine an hour before their endurance workout were able to cycle faster and had more endurance than those who didn't. A review, from the November 2015 issue of International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, reports that coffee also lowers the rate of perceived exertion, or RPE, during exercise. The RPE is a measure of how hard you feel you're working, and lower RPE workouts feel easier. By reducing RPE -- making your workouts feel easier -- caffeine can help you push yourself harder during exercise, so you can burn more calories.