Sustainable Nutrition

Coffee: Is It Good For You?

Written By: Kripa Jalan

Coffee: Is It Good For You?

I love coffee. 

Okay, most people do. 

It’s probably the number one source of caffeine in our diets and gives us that much needed “perk” when life feels like a drag. If used properly, caffeine can help you muster the motivation to crush a workout, energize your daily routine, lower the risk of certain chronic diseases and even kick-start your metabolism. 

But there’s also a school of thought that believes that coffee “isn’t good for you.”

So, what’s the deal with coffee?

The Good:

  • Caffeine can decrease fatigue, the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and improve alertness and focus. So it may work great for athletes and recreational exercisers looking for a little workout “boost” – if the dose is moderate (one 8–10 ounce coffee 30–60 minutes before exercise).
  • Although caffeine has long been thought to have a diuretic effect, potentially leading to dehydration, research does not fully support this. The data suggest that more than 180 mg of caffeine daily (about two cups of brewed coffee) may increase urination in the short-term in some people, but will not necessarily lead to dehydration.
  • It tastes great. Enough said.

The Not-So-Good:

  • Contrary to popular belief when used improperly, excess caffeine can actually drag down your energy levels all day. Caffeine affects different people differently. Some would get wired with a mild dose and some could even drink a double espresso and sleep like a baby. But excess coffee can be dangerous to an already stressed out body, given that it raises cortisol (our stress hormone) - which is linked to a variety of hormonal issues as well as the accumulation of fat around the midsection.
  • Over 400 mg of caffeine per day can result in irritability or even anxiety. (8-10 ounce cup contains anywhere between 120-150 mg). More so, caffeine increases the force and rate of the heart. When consumed by individuals who struggle to manage blood sugar, they may feel shaky, jittery, and like they have “low blood sugar” – even if they might not actually be hypoglycaemic.
  • Caffeine consumption can also trigger the release of dopamine (happy hormone), which can make it even more addictive. In fact, if someone is addicted to coffee – they should try and cut back gradually – because there’s a chance that they may experience headaches, shakiness, or even stomach upset (caffeine withdrawals).

Now, it may seem like the cons outweigh the pros. But, you’ll notice that a lot of the downsides stem from consuming coffee in copious amounts!

What I’ve found works well, through my years of nutrition practice is curtailing coffee intake before noon and keeping it to 1-2 cups at max per day.

Want to taper of your coffee intake? 

Try this:

  • Day 1: Normal Amount e.g. 2 Cups
  • Day 2: Reduce 1/2 Cup Totally, e.g. 1.5 Cups 
  • Day 3: Reduce 1/2 Cup Totally, e.g. 1 Cup
  • Day 4: Reduce 1/4th Cup Totally, e.g. 3/4th Cup
  • Day 5:  Reduce 1/4th Cup Totally, e.g. 1/2 Cup
  • Day 6: Reduce 1/4th Cup Totally, e.g. 1/4th Cup
  • Day 7: You’re done!

I’ve said it before and I will say it again – I believe a cup of coffee a day can be healthy. With that being said, I think most people actually drink about 3 to 6 cups! 

If this sounds like you, please consider reducing your intake.