To Coffee or Not to Coffee? — Nutritionista

I’ve written about coffee before, but like alcohol, it’s a topic that just keeps coming up. Also like alcohol, coffee is controversial from a health and weight loss perspective. Mary says the ladies at Skinny Bitch (I don’t know much about them, but I don’t think we agree on everything) take a strong stance against coffee because because they argue it causes fat retention.  Well, I’m going to give you both sides of the story and then tell you my thoughts.

The Good

  • Harvard researchers found that people who drink one to three cups of coffee daily can reduce diabetes risk.
  • At least six studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s.
  • Caffeine has been proven to boost athletic endurance and performance. Some people claim this helps weight loss efforts since better endurance/performance = more calorie burn.
  • Studies have shown that coffee might contain anti-cancer properties.

The Bad

  • Coffee is associated with elevated blood pressure.
  • The body’s natural reaction to coffee is to produce extra insulin which does slow the burning of stored fat (so the Skinny Bitches just might be onto something…).
  • If the caffeine in coffee disrupts your sleep schedule, your eating patterns can get out of whack causing weight gain.
  • It’s addictive! Whether you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, eating or drinking anything in abundance is not the best idea.

The Ugly

  • Coffee can easily become a very high-calorie beverage. The hard truth is that not too many people drink their coffee black. So what? Well, nothing you can add to coffee is great for you. Sugar? Nope. Cream? Nope. Artificial sweetener? Nope. Skim milk or low-fat soy milk are your best bets, but most people don’t stop there.

Bottom Line Are you starting to see a pattern here? Many controversial foods have both good and bad effects on the body, so the only thing you can do is consume them in MODERATION. Here are some helpful guidelines to keep your coffee habit from slowing your weight loss or health goals:

  • Keep it to two small cups per day, maximum. Spreading out caffeine intake in small doses over the course of the day rather than drinking it all at once will help stretch out the effects.
  • Your coffee drink should have no more than 50 calories TOTAL. If you drink your coffee with more cream and sugar than actual liquid, guess what? You don’t really like the taste of coffee! Start making the transition to tea.
  • No coffee nightcaps. When you’re trying to lose weight or just live a healthy lifestyle, you want to make sure you’re getting the sleep your body needs. Be aware that even if you can’t feel its effects, caffeine can stay in your system for 3 to 12 hours I don’t drink coffee often (I admit, I don’t like the taste), but when I do, I make sure to drink it before noon.

So Nutritionista wrote this for MoreThanMary, and, ironically, I read this on my Tumblr dashboard on my iPhone while waiting in line at Starbucks. I decided to have a grande coffee in lieu of the venti that I was really craving. I do agree that there are definite drawbacks to coffee, but vices are hard to let go!

I have drastically cut back on my alcohol consumption (no easy feat!), mostly cut out Diet Coke (again, no easy feat!), but coffee might take a while. I’m not as addicted to coffee as I used to be — in college my friend Meg and I would make maybe 3 trips a day on super-stressful days — but I don’t know if I could totally cut out it. When I make coffee at home, I usually use soy milk and stevia; at Starbucks I usually go for skim milk and Sweet and Low or Sugar in the Raw.

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