Coffee is not just a liquid suitcase for caffeine believe it or not, it’s contains a bunch of other nutrients that are difficult to spell and pronounce so let’s just use the umbrella term antioxidants for now and get to more pressing matters…oh and yes that’s my Mom behind me :)
It’s essentially impossible to separate coffee and caffeine, so for the sake of this article they’re going to be synonymous terms.
How It Works
Over the course of the day something called adenosinebuilds up in your brain and makes you feel sleepy, and it turns out that caffeine ‘blocks’ adenosine in the brain and therefore has you feel more alert. You might be thinking well if adenosine builds up over the course of the day wouldn’t caffeine consumption make more sense in the afternoon and evening…technically yes, in some sense, however it can also interfere with sleep which we’ll get to in a bit.
Consuming caffeine when adenosine is low (in the morning) takes alertness to an even higher level, which is why it can elevate mood, energy and sense of well-being.
As the day goes on caffeine concentration in the blood is filtered out and simultaneously adenosine ramps back up and that’s how we’re able to get a good night’s rest. Now it’s worth mentioning that the more caffeine you consume the longer it takes to filter, enter the concept of ‘half life.’
The ‘half life’ of caffeine is around 6 hours give or take on average, some folks genetically metabolize it faster and other folks much slower. If you consume 200mg or so of caffeine via a couple cups of coffee in the morning…
-6 hours later you’ll have 100mg swirling around in your blood
-6 hours after that you’ll have 50mg
-6 hours after that you’ll have 25mg
Now we all have a unique genetic tolerance to caffeine but tolerance can also be scaled up or down based on how much you consume just like any other drug, meaning the more you drink the less ‘sensitive’ you become to it and vice versa.
Can Enhance Cognition– like I mentioned above, if we suppress adenosine and feel more alert, we’re going to enhance our cognitive capabilities via focus, mental clarity etc.
Can Increase Power Output– when you increase energy levels you may be slightly stronger.
May Help Burn Fat–there is a slight short term ‘thermogenic’ effect via heat production and to a lesser degree a release of fatty acids into the blood stream to be used for fuel.
Honestly I wouldn’t even ‘count’ the fat burning element of coffee consumption because it’s extremely insignificant, especially if you’re drinking it any other way than black or with zero calorie sweetener because if you’re adding even a splash of milk, cream, sugar, syrup etc. it’s just adding calories to your daily intake.
Blood Pressure–increases in blood pressure happen acutely meaning for roughly 4 hours give or take, but in the big picture it’s nothing to write home about.
Digestion Issues–some folks don’t tolerate coffee and/or caffeine well from a digestion standpoint and if you’re one of those people you’ll know. The most common side effect is diarrhea.
Acid Reflux–some people tend to get reflux or ‘heart burn’ after consuming coffee and again you’ll know if this is you, the feedback is fairly immediate.
Sleep–sleep can take a hit for folks who have a low tolerance and/or time their intake too close to bedtime. 12pm noon seems to be a good ‘coffee cut-off’ for most people.
It’s worth noting that if you add things like milk, cream, syrups and other funky sweeteners to your coffee you may be reacting negatively digestion and reflux wise to those and not necessarily the coffee or caffeine itself. In order to square this away simply try having straight up black coffee and see how you do.
The first place to start is to assess how you digest coffee, if the answer is not well it’s a good idea to skip it. Also if it impacts your sleep in any negative way it’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul…quality sleep is going to both give you more energy in the long term and is MUCH more important to your overall health.
If it’s solely the caffeine that you don’t do well with i.e. you get the jitters and feel a little anxious, feel free to go for decaf as it’ll solve that problem. Personally I have a couple cups of regular coffee in the morning and then I often go for a decaf black Americano in the afternoon because it tastes great, I love cafes, and I really enjoy slowing down for a half hour or so mid-day and ‘smelling the roses.’ The reason I go for regular in the morning and decaf in the afternoon is because both having too much caffeine and having it too late in the day messes with my sleep quality…no bueno!
Lastly coffee is a ‘fat loss friendly’ beverage because it contains 5 or fewer calories per cup if you consume it black or with zero calorie sweetener, however if you add any milk, cream, sugar, syrup (even the sugar free syrup) etc. you’re just adding to your overall caloric load for the day.
How do you take your coffee? Americano? French Press? Orange mocha frappuccino? Let me know below!cute