Many of us fitness enthusiasts love to have ourselves a cup o' Joe. It smells good, it tastes good, it makes you feel good. It's a morning ritual for some and a social way to catch up with friends, for others. Some like it black, some like it nonfat with caramel on top. Whatever your coffee preferences are, coffee lovers can all agree that they really enjoy their caffeine!
Is it good for fitness though?
Caffeine is a drug, a stimulant and a supplement.
Effects of caffeine include:
-Increased heart rate
-Increased blood pressure
-May effect ability to fall asleep
Caffeine is an "anti-nutrient." This means that it prevents the vitamins and minerals you eat from being absorbed. This is especially bad news for your bones because coffee steals calcium from them. If you are at risk for (or have) osteoporosis, then you really need to cut back!
It's also a diuretic. Caffeine takes water from your body and dehydrates you. This can lead to a bunch of unpleasant conditions, such as constipation. When you are dehydrated, your body holds on to water. This is commonly known as "water weight" and it seems to give you an unsightly extra layer of fat.
Dehydration is also bad news for putting on muscle. You need water to carry nutrients to the working muscles. They need to be "fed" for growth. In combination with the fluids lost through sweat you need to make sure you are drinking lots of water, if you are a coffee drinker. Caffeine also blunts the effects of creatine. So there is a chance your supplements are not working as effectively as they could be!
For a weight loss program you need to be aware that like any drink, there is the potential "empty calories." If you drink in the morning have coffee with low fat cream and without sugar. Do you really need sugar first thing in the morning? Be careful of those delicious lattes. A whole milk latte is over 200 calories! One of those everyday will really slow your progress. Think of fancy coffees as a dessert and treat yourself once in a while.
The good news is that coffee is considered a fitness supplement. It is proven to be endurance enhancing. So much so that the international Olympic committee has placed a ban leading to disqualification for athletes with a urinary limits exceeding 12 mg/ml. This is approximately 4-7 cups of coffee. Coffee in the morning can really clear the cobwebs and make you feel alert and ready to take on the day.
The benefits of coffee as a fitness supplement can be achieved through proper nutrition and exercise. I don't think it's necessary for any fitness program. However, moderate coffee drinking (1-2 cups/day) doesn't have any known long term effects on health. So enjoy a coffee once in a while but don't count on it to give you a great physique.