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Coffee: the good, the bad, and the fugly

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Coffee is probably the most favourite hot drink consumed on the planet.

I am a fan of it, and like to let the sweet aroma of coffee take over my senses… When the bitter, yet invitingly warm smell fills the atmosphere, making my taste buds ache for the creamy, smooth coffee I long for… then I bring the cup to my lips, my nose deeply inhaling the strong undeniable scent of the coffee I am about to devour… Bliss!

The good

There are plenty of benefits of drinking coffee (yes!) Did you know, that coffee contains more antioxidants than fruit and vegetables? Research shows that coffee is a great source of antioxidants in our diet

Most of us drink it for the caffeine, which is a stimulant. It is one of the few substances that is known to help mobilise fats from the fat tissues and increase metabolism. Studies show that caffeine can increase the metabolic rate by 3-11%, with larger doses having an even bigger effect. Studies show that caffeine can improve exercise performance by 11-12%, on average, hence you find more supplements on the market with added caffeine.

rather large study was published in 2012 wherein researchers analysed the coffee consumption of over 400,000 people and found a significant association between coffee consumption and longevity.

Those who drank the most coffee generally lived longer than those that drank less or none. There is also another existing piece of literature demonstrating similar effects.

To be specific, studies show that drinkers have a reduced risk of Alzheimers, diabetes, Parkison’s and dementia.

For exactly how coffee works in your body, it comes down to each individual’s genetic make-up (nutrigenomics), and there is not a simple solution for all (see this fascinating article by the founder of Precision Nutrition).

The bad

A big problem is our coffee drinking culture. Especially when working in offices. There are plenty of coffee breaks and coffee is offered at meetings. Water breaks anyone?

To start with, most people aren’t hydrated enough. I have analysed hundreds of food diaries in recent years. I see that people are drinking on average 3–5 cups a day and only a few glasses of water, which is a reoccurring problem.  Water makes up more then two thirds of human body weight. Lack of it causes dehydration, tiredness and sluggish metabolism, just to name a few. Look after yourself, decrease coffee consumption to one or two cups a day (preferably before lunchtime) and fill the rest with water.

The fugly

Taking your cuppa with sugar is what you need if getting fat is your goal. It is crucial to keep your blood sugar levels low for health and staying lean. The sugar will cause you to have insulin spikes, fat gain and eventually diabetes. Top that up with some cream and the calories add up.

Instead add some full-fat grass fed organic cows’ milk (less calories and still tasty!) In this observational study from Harvard researchers, those who consumed the most full-fat dairy had less belly fat, less inflammation, lower triglycerides, improved insulin sensitivity and a 62% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

The bottom line: have one to two cups a day with full-fat grass fed cows’ or goats’ milk, coconut, almond, oat and rice milk for full benefits.  Also make sure to drink your coffee early in the day so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep. Too little sleep can cause a host of health issues including impaired endocrine and metabolic function and inflammatory responses.

I only drink high quality coffee, my favourites are Illy and Taylor’s of Harrogate .

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