Whenever clients know they need to make improvements in their diet they first suggest cutting back on junk food, take-away food, soft drink and and the other usual culprits well known to be not very nutritious. However very few times are they willing to suggest they should cut back on coffee, clearly identifying their dependence relationship with this addictive diuretic – even if it is only one per day!
I only have a couple per day you might say, and many health experts (especially ones who also drink coffee themselves) will tell you this is fine. However my view on the matter is slightly different so if you're curious as to why, read below.
There are a number of negative effects of caffeine and as little as 2 coffees per day can initiate these responses;
* Dehydration: Caffeine is a diuretic meaning it will make us urinate more often. This can lead to dehydration so it is important that if you are already someone who struggles to drink enough water that you are onto this when you have a coffee. Add an extra 1.5 cups of water to your total daily intake for every 1 cup of coffee.
* Loss of water soluble vitamins. Our B vitamins are water soluble meaning if we are urinating a lot more, our B vitamins are being lost as well. As these can be difficult to source in the first place this is definitely something to be wary of when you drink a lot of coffee.
* Stress on adrenals: Caffeine is a stimulant meaning it promotes your adrenal glands to produce your stress hormones. Firstly, this can become taxing on your adrenals (especially if you are already someone who stresses often), but secondly when your stress hormones are constantly being produced it is not helpful for those wanting to shift some weight.
*Interrupted sleep cycle: Because caffeine is stimulant it can disrupt how much REM sleep we get. Sleep is extremely underestimated when it comes to our health and it's no surprise that those of us who drink coffee, drink it everyday. This is because your sleep may be disrupted, leaving you tired and alas, wanting coffee again to perk you up.
* Worsen PMS symptoms: Again, due to it's stimulation effects on you hormones caffeine has been shown to worsen PMS symptoms, along with increasing your risk of anxiety at this time.
* Worsen anxiety and nervousness: As mentioned above, caffeine is a stimulant so for those who are already prone to anxiety and nervousness, rather than feeling energised and alert like some, you might find yourself jittery, distracted and struggling to concentrate.
* Dependency for energy: This is one of my main concerns with caffeine and the extent of this has become very clear through my 21 Day Detox Program. We eliminate caffeine in this program and the ones who always have the worse withdrawal symptoms are those who have coffee on a daily basis (one detoxer who had 6-8 black coffees per day ended up with shooting pains down her spine and legs which her GP suggested was related caffeine withdrawal). Many people can't go a day without coffee and this is a dependency relationship where instead of getting energy from your food, your body relies on caffeine and won't function 100% without it.
But it is not all bad news when it comes to caffeine, and it is important to note that. It can help to boost your metabolism, allow you to train harder during your workout, and boost concentration and mental alertness. New research is finding it may also have positive effects on cardiovascular health, cancer and Parkinsons Disease.
So my recommendation for coffee is not to cut it out altogether if you are someone who thoroughly enjoys it, but stick to one per day, not every day. This will mean that your body won't become dependent on it and you reduce your risk of the other negative effects listed above. I do encourage most of my clients to give a caffeine free lifestyle a go as many find once they make they initial commitment and get through the first few days, they feel much better without it. However if you are someone that thrives off having it in your life, here are some other things to note:
* Take advantage of it's benefits. When you have your one for the day have it before a workout as a natural performance booster.
* Stick to good quality coffee. Find out where it's from and how it's processed. Same goes for de-caff coffee as this can be very processed.
* Enjoy before 12:00pm to ensure it won't disrupt your sleep cycle.
* If you have yours with milk, do research into what is in the milk you are having (more coming on this soon), and know that this will count as a snack for the day.
* Drink an extra 1.5 cups of water for every cup of coffee so you don't get dehydrated.
*Use a re-usable cup - take way coffee cups end up in landfill!
* Understand that coffee may not always serve you depending what is going on in your life. If you are struggling to sleep, suffering from anxiety, or lacking energy then you may want to have periods where you do and don't include coffee in your diet.
* The average Aussie spends $1825 a year on coffee! Imagine how many servings of smashed avo you could buy with that saving :P
If you want to try going off coffee without the withdrawals of going cold turkey, just gradually decrease your daily intake over a couple of weeks. Dandelion Root Tea is a great caffeine free alternative that has a similar bitter taste.