Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide, not only because of the enticing aroma or rich, earthy taste but because of its stimulating effects on the central nervous system. For many, a coffee is a morning ritual, a way to kick start the day or a little treat to look forward to. So when asked if coffee is ‘allowed’, after we say YES of course, we remind our users that there are no rules when it comes to food and diet, only recommendations and guidelines.
So what do we recommend? Let’s start by looking at how coffee affects the body.
Coffee beans contain a number of nutrients (B vitamins, antioxidants and polyphenols) that may be beneficial to health. Coffee also contains caffeine, a stimulant that can affect the body for between 4-6 hours. This naturally occurring compound also found in cola, chocolate, energy drinks and black tea increases activity in the central nervous system, namely the circulation of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones).
The short-terms effects of small doses of caffeine include:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased physical energy
- And increased mental alertness
But in larger doses caffeine may cause:
- Anxiety and irritability
- Trembling hands
- Difficulty sleeping and
- Headaches and dizziness
We all respond to caffeine differently, so be sure to assess whether your coffee consumption works in your favour, or increases feelings of stress or anxiety.
Coffee and exercise
Numerous clinical trials have found that coffee can enhance physical performance. If consumed at the right time and in the right dose, caffeine can improve your ability to ‘go harder for longer’. We’re not suggesting you start taking shots of espresso before every training session, but if you’re doing high intensity or endurance style training and have been looking at pre-workout supplements, coffee might be something to consider.
As with all drugs, one of the concerns with regular coffee consumption is building up a tolerance to caffeine. The more you consume, the more you require to achieve the same result. If you skip your morning cuppa and experience withdrawal symptoms, it might be worth dialing down your coffee consumption - perhaps try for a couple of coffee free days each week. We also recommend you opt for low fat milk and avoid adding sugar or other sweeteners. Finally, we suggest using the two before 2 rule. Stick to two cups (max) of coffee per day and before 2pm, giving your body time to metabolise it before you go to sleep.
Try using the two before 2 rule.
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