Q&A WITH THE FITNESS DIVA
I keep hearing conflicting information about coffee—is it good for me or not?
It is definitely confusing—one minute the news is touting the benefits of coffee, and the next, it is calling it a poison. The opinion can literally change day-to-day, depending on the angle of the story. I will provide the facts from both sides and you can decide if you want to continue consuming it or not.
Fact: coffee contains antioxidants. In order to benefit from a high intake of those antioxidants, you would have to drink more coffee—more coffee equals more jitters, not to mention increasing the chance of headaches, as well as a slew of other uncomfortable side effects. Did you know that you can easily obtain double the antioxidants of coffee (minus the side-effects) simply by eating fruits and veggies instead? Fruits and vegetables are antioxidant superstars and will also provide essential vitamins and nutrients that are lacking in coffee.
Fact: coffee does possess anti-depressant properties.
Fact: coffee can worsen depression. Seem contradicting? Let me explain; coffee is an addicting substance– period. Why? Caffeine, for one reason and manipulation of our neurotransmitters for another. Coffee elicits a feel-good response when we consume it, due to activation of dopamine. Once this feel-great “high” wears off, our dopamine levels drop and we dip into the valley of depression. You need not partake in a dangerous merry-go-round experience to keep your dopamine levels up, though. There are other ways to increase dopamine naturally, without the dreaded depression “crash.” For one, try phenylalanine, an amino acid supplement that is a precursor to L-tyrosine. Of course, speak with your physician before taking any supplements, especially if you are on medication. If you don’t feel comfortable poking around in the unknown world of supplements, try eating products that contain it naturally, such as meat and/or milk products. If you are vegetarian or vegan, try alternative sources; oats and wheat germ contain lower levels, but every little bit helps. Phenylalanine works best with vitamin B6, niacin (B3), iron, copper, and vitamin C.
Fact: coffee has been noted to improve cognitive function and performance. And it also depletes your storage of B vitamins. Would you rather have sharp wits or a heart attack? You can have both if you love coffee! In all seriousness though, when your B vitamins are diminished, homocysteine (an amino acid) ultimately accumulates in your bloodstream, creating the perfect environment for a heart attack. So, to “B” on the safe side (ha ha), at least take your B vitamins and folic acid if you want to continue drinking coffee.
Fact: coffee causes insomnia. Wow—bet you never heard of that one! Did you know that even consuming ONE cup of coffee takes 24 hours to exit the body? Coffee is acidic in nature and lends its hand to lots of nasty gastrointestinal issues, like ulcers. Coffee alone wreaks havoc on your system, but pair it with sugar, sweeteners, cream, and whatnot, and you’ve got a cesspool of toxins swimming around before you even start your day!
Fact: coffee makes you tired. And fat. Think about it; when you are tired, you reach for a cup of joe—or to prevent becoming tired, we drink it ahead of time. This messes with your adrenal glands, which are responsible for releasing cortisol when we need it for times of stress—AKA “fight or flight.” Instead, the body pumps out unnecessary cortisol because of the coffee, which circulates throughout our bloodstream making us more tired, more fat, insulin resistant, and not to mention, decreases muscle tone. Ugh!
For all you smarty pants out there smugly saying “Well, I’ll just have decaf”—think again. Decaf is merely marketing; it has been shown to contain even MORE toxins than regular, while still harboring caffeine—less than regular, but there nonetheless.
There it is, all the facts. The choice is yours to do with as you wish. I personally enjoy hot teas, which are rich in antioxidants, lower in caffeine (if you choose, green, black, and white) or even caffeine-free if you choose herbal. Green tea has been touted for its antioxidant effects and fat oxidation. I promise–you won’t even miss your coffee jitters.
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a certified personal trainer and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email [email protected] She can also be reached at www.PinkIslandFitness.com or www.101FIT.com and (239) 333-5771.