Is Coffee Impacting Your Health?

The common staple to many mornings and afternoon pick-me-ups, we’re all a little addicted to coffee but it’s often given a bad rap and labelled as being unhealthy or even poisonous for your body, but is it all that bad? We take a look at the average cup of joe and all the good it does for our body. Who thought that your morning latté actually has a stack of benefits?

Boosts energy levels and mood

Coffee is a great source of caffeine (durrrr) the most popular psychoactive substance in the world! Caffeine act as a stimulant and boosts energy levels by blocking the function of an inhibitory neurotransmitter (brain hormone) called Adenosine. By blocking the function of Adenosine, caffeine can then stimulate activity in the brain by releasing other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. This reduces fatigue and tiredness making us feel bright eyed and bushy tailed. Caffeine can also be found in tea, chocolate, soft drink and sports drinks but coffee contains the greatest source with the average cup containing anywhere from 90-100mg of caffeine.

Increases metabolic rate

Yes it’s true! Drinking coffee increases your metabolism (how much energy aka kilojoules or calories you burn) by 3-11%. But before you start a coffee only diet, studies show that these effects are likely to be short-term. If you frequently drink coffee you will build a tolerance to caffeine, lessening the effects on your metabolism and your ability to shred for the weekend.

Improve physical performance

For those looking for a competitive edge the caffeine in coffee has been shown to improve performance on average by 11-12%. The main benefits of caffeine appear to come from its relationship with the central nervous system. Caffeine reduces our perception of effort (making exercise “feel” easier) and/or reducing our perception of tiredness or fatigue making us exercise harder, longer and stronger! For information on dosage and timing, it’s best to see a Sports Dietitian to make sure its right for you.

Before you go ordering your next Chocolate Orange Mocha Frappuccino, here are a few tips to make sure the coffee benefits aren’t outweighed by the add-ons

Added sugars

There are many different types and forms of sugars that can be added to our daily coffee. When ordering, look to avoid adding plain, raw or coconut sugar along with any chocolate or syrups like honey or agave. This includes flavoured syrups like vanilla and hazelnut. These are all different forms of sugar that are best left at the coffee shop!

Added fat

Add-ons are the killer here! Say no to whipped cream, the fake stuff tastes horrible and is just adding unnecessary extra kilojoules / calories. I’ve even heard of people having a “Fat Black”. Also known as a Bullet or Butter Coffee, which is literally what it sounds like – adding butter to your coffee! While it is appealing to some, for those interested in staying healthy adding milk is the best option for extra creaminess to your coffee.

Type of milk

I’m always amazed at the variety of milks that are now available at some cafes – you can almost see the baristas quivering at the sight of a group of active-wearing girls. If you are free of any intolerance, cow’s milk is best as it contains a great source of calcium. If you are looking to lose weight or if you have a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol opt for a low-fat or skinny latte!

How much

Be mindful of how many coffees you have a day. While caffeine does have some amazing health benefits, don’t let it take the place of healthy and balanced meals and snacks. Aim to have no more than 2 per day. It’s also important to consider the size you are having, where possible opt for a small coffee to avoid adding extra kilojoules or calories to your day!

Emily’s top Adelaide coffee destinations

  • CREAM
  • F.I.X. Speciality Coffee
  • Coffee Institute
  • Whistle and Flute
  • Crack Kitchen

Emily Hartley is a qualified Sports Dietitian and Accredited Practicing Dietitian* (APD) and Nutritionist from Improve Performance.

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