Coffee is the most popular drink in the world. Around two billion cups are consumed a day. It can be presented in a myriad of ways and is the morning go-to for so many. While it’s received a lot of bad press over the years because of its caffeine content, scientists are discovering there’s a lot more to this brown bean than first thought.
In fact the list of health benefits continues to grow! We caught up with nutritionist Sarah Flower from Skinny Coffee Club, to find out more.
Caffeine has been shown to help improve performance in the gym, especially amongst endurance sports or HIIT, which is why so many diet pills and sports nutrition contains elements of caffeine, due to its stimulant properties. “As caffeine helps burn more fat stores, it uses these as fuel – this means the traditional carb stores in your liver and muscles are depleted at a slower rate and can delay fatigue,” explains Sarah. Caffeine also stimulates the central nervous system, and this has been found to help make exercise feel less arduous when training. “It is important that you monitor your reaction to the caffeine, as some people are more sensitive to the stimulating effects of caffeine than others, so you are your own guide to how much you can tolerate,” says Sarah. “I would advise to drink no more than 3-5 cups of coffee per day.”
Obviously if you’re working out then there’s nothing better than drinking water and staying hydrated.
If you want to snack then maybe try a black coffee instead and see if that leaves you sated. “Coffee can stimulate thermogenesis which in turn reduces our appetite and temporary need for food,” says Sarah. Also, the chlorogenic acid in coffee slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and suppresses our hunger hormone, ghrelin. This hormone is stimulated by carbohydrates, sitting in our stomach and growling at us to feed it more and more. Carbohydrates also shut off our leptin response – this is the hormone that tells our brain when we are full. By suppressing ghrelin and stimulating leptin, we effectively reduce our appetite. “It is also interesting to note that decaffeinated coffee still contains chlorogenic acid, and therefore could still produce an appetite suppressing effect,” adds Sarah. “Before you start guzzling coffee all day long, the fat burning effect diminishes the more coffee you have, and you could become intolerant to its effects, so it is actually better to choose your coffee wisely and drink only a few cups per day to ensure you enjoy all the benefits.”
Numerous studies have shown that coffee could help protect against liver damage, when consuming up to 3 cups a day. “Interestingly, a study published in the journal Hepatology, showed decaffeinated coffee lowered liver enzymes, indicating that there may be chemical compounds in coffee other than caffeine which help to protect the liver,” says Sarah.
One thing that shouldn’t be underestimated is the power of meeting a good friend, or a family member for a coffee. The social contact and feeling as though you have had a ‘treat’ plus a break from a busy schedule is incredibly beneficial.
In summary, if you enjoy coffee then pick a really high quality blend and stick to no more than the recommended three cups a day. Avoid empty calories from milky lattés and opt for a helping of air-filled froth if you’re watching your calorie intake. Consider making your own almond milk if you want an extra healthy addition to your drink at home.
If you’re thinking of giving up coffee, have you ever considered trying blue matcha? And, if you’d like to try Golden Milk, which is a soothing turmeric drink we have put together our favourite recipe for you to try.