Home Posts tagged "Coffee Consumption"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/9/18

I hope you're having a great week. Stay tuned to EricCressey.com, as we started up my spring sale yesterday and will be running it for a good chunk of May. The first product featured is...

Understanding and Coaching the Anterior Core - This presentation covers an incredibly important topic, and is now on sale for 40% off. Just enter the coupon code SPRING (all CAPS) at checkout to apply the discount. This is some great continuing education material for under $9.

The Physical Preparation Podcast with John O'Neil - Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts Director of Performance John O'Neil hopped on Mike Robertson's podcast to long-term athletic development in baseball players. There are some great pearls of wisdom for anyone who works with middle and high school athletes.

Caffeine Consumption: How Much is Safe? - The crew at Examine.com pulled together some of the latest research on caffeine consumption to outline how much is considered safe for various individuals across the population.

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Why Do We Give Caffeine a Free Pass?

Today, I've got a somewhat personal story to share with you - and there are several great lessons at the end, so be patient as you read through!

As many of you know, the fall/winter of 2014-15 was a crazy time period for the Cressey family. First, in early September, my wife and I moved to Florida to prepare for the opening of our new Cressey Sports Performance facility in Jupiter, FL. After months of planning, the facility finally opened up in early November.

It wasn't very easy to just open up shop in another state without regular trips back to Massachusetts to check in on the facility and our house. This took place on top of my normal responsibilities both in the gym and in managing my online presence and consulting business. And, I continued to train hard in the gym myself.

To make things a bit more complex, this move took place while my wife was pregnant...with twins. Their original due date was December 17, but they decided to arrive about three weeks early on November 28. They're both doing great, but early on, there was some time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for supplemental oxygen and feeding tubes. 

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Needless to say, there were a lot of long hours over the fall and winter. While I'm accustomed to long hours, I was not accustomed to doing these long hours with only 2-3 hours of sleep per night thanks to newborn twins.

I often tell our athletes that with programming and training, you can't just keep adding. If you put something new in, you usually have to take something else away. And, if you absolutely insist on adding without taking something away, then you better be ready to really dedicate yourself to recovery modalities, whether it's massage, naps, or a host of other options. There was no time for any of that stuff, though. What was there time for?

Caffeine - and a lot of it.

Each morning, I'd drink a pot of coffee. As I recall, the half-life of caffeine is about eight hours if you don't exercise - and it held pretty true, in my case. My morning caffeine would usually wear off in the early afternoon after I was done training our pro crowd. Stubbornly, I refused to pare back on my training volume, so 4-5 days a week, I'd also crush an energy drink around 3pm to get ready to lift. The pick-me-up would often work. I'd have a good training session here and there that would remind me that I "still had it."

Not surprisingly, I'd crash and burn and have a horrible 4-5 days of training after a session like this. The "ups" were still pretty "up," but the "downs" were a lot longer and harder to bounce back from. You can't display your work capacity if you can't leverage your recovery capacity, and I had none.

Early in the spring, things started catching up to me. I was down about 10 pounds since the girls had been born, and wasn't any leaner. My strength had started to fall off pretty quickly, and I wasn feeling pretty banged up in the gym. Most significantly, I was starting to get sick pretty regularly - and I almost NEVER get sick.

In early May, I gave a weekend seminar that also included a 5-6 hour Friday presentation, so I was on my feet talking for about 30 hours over the course of three days. On the way home, my flight was delayed, and I didn't get back to my house until about 3am. I woke up the next morning feeling horrible, and actually wound up going home sick from work the next day. It was right then that I knew I needed to fix things.

The next morning, I went to 50/50 regular/decaf coffee, and cut out all caffeine for the rest of the day. What happened next absolutely stunned me.

For about 3-4 weeks, I felt absolutely horrendous. I've heard of caffeine withdrawals coming in the form of a headache (and I certainly had one), but that was just the tip of the iceberg for me. Every joint in my body hurt. I was waking up with cold sweats - and going through 2-3 shirts - every single night. I was so exhausted by the end of the day that I was going to bed by 8pm on 2-3 days per week. It was literally like I had the flu for an entire month. As a final kicker, I was waking up every morning around 4am with a raging headache that would only go away 10-15 minutes after my first sip of coffee - so it wasn't possible to just "sleep it off."

Not surprisingly, my training was terrible during this month. I pared back to 3x/week lifting, and my only "off-day" activity was walking with my wife and daughters.

         Caffeine might not be heroin, cocaine, or even
          nicotine, but it is absolutely, positively a drug.

I can only imagine what serious, long-term drug abusers go through when they try to kick a habit - because I've got a high pain tolerance and a lot of patience, and those four weeks sucked!

Fortunately for you, though, there are some invaluable lessons to be learned from my story.

1. Short-term gain often equates to long-term pain.

I mustered up "fake energy" to have average training sessions for 2-3 months - and in the process, put myself in a position where I had terrible sessions for a month on the tail end. It's better to be "consistently good" throughout the year.

2. This is what a lot of young athletes do!

I see a lot of diet logs from teenage athletes, and they usually leave a lot to be desired. Most kids drink too many sports drinks and sodas, and consume too little water. Fruits and vegetables are sorely lacking, and there are enough processed carbs to sink a battleship - and certainly no healthy fats to keep things afloat.

In spite of all these shortcomings, a lot of young athletes are on a constant search to find a "better pre-workout." Maybe, just maybe, the pre-workout wouldn't be necessary if these athletes were eating right and sleeping sufficiently.

It's one thing for a stressed-out 34-year-old entrepreneur with newborn twins at home to go down this path. It's another thing altogether for a resilient, untrained 16-year-old to think that he needs stimulants to be able to perform in the weight room or on the field.

3. Coffee is a slippery slope.

Ever have that friend who set out with good dietary intentions, but found ways to justify bad food choices?

"Well, you said sweet potatoes were a good carb source for me. So, I figured regular potatoes were just as good. And, if potatoes are okay, then I can make homemade french fries. And, if homemade french fries are okay, then the ones I have at my favorite fast food restaurant have to be okay, too, right?"

You can justify absolutely anything you want. With coffee, we know there are potential health benefits with respect to type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular health, certain types of cancer, and many other facets of health. Of course, this assumes moderation. Drinking a gallon of caffeinated coffee per day isn't going to give you extra protection against problems in these areas. Furthermore, don't expect the same health benefits of coffee to extend to crushing an energy drink or Mountain Dew to get a quick pick-me-up.

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Source: https://coffee-channel.com/

4. We need to be very careful about glorifying caffeine, regardless of form.

For some reason, in the fitness industry, caffeine gets a lot of love because it's been proven to improve performance in a number of physical challenges, from strength and power events to endurance sports. Some of those benefits can be reduced when an athlete has become desensitized to caffeine from habitual use, though.

Not surprisingly, though, we're seeing more and more athletes - and fitness professionals, too - who are crushing energy drinks throughout the day. They're always firing up their sympathetic nervous systems and staying in perpetual "perform" mode when they should be able to tone it down and switch to recovery mode. 

I find it interesting that a simple cup of coffee can be viewed as a morning routine, ergogenic aid, and social beverage - and that probably explains why so many people consume caffeine to excess. They want it for all three of these things every single day.

Keep in mind that I'm preaching moderation in caffeine consumption, not complete abstinence. I'm still drinking coffee every morning and have no plans to eliminate it.

5. Stress is stress, whether you "feel" it or not.

If you'd asked me how I felt in December and January, I would have said "surprisingly good." I'm a guy who never gets too up or down, so in spite of my Type A personality, I rarely actually feel "stressed." Interestingly, in what was one of the most physiologically stressful times of my life, I pretty much powered through it (with the help of way too much caffeine) without feeling too awful. Obviously, eventually it caught up to me. With our athletes, we need to recognize high levels of stress sooner so that we can tone down training and add in more recovery modalities.

6. It's very easy to forget what it's like to actually feel good.

I've been taking my training very seriously for about 15 years now, so I like to think that I'm pretty in tune with how my body is feeling.

Additionally, I work with a lot of high-level athletes, particularly baseball players. Most elite athletes have incredible kinesthetic awareness and can sense when little things are "off."

Interestingly, though, it's not uncommon for athletes to get into "funks." We see MLB pitchers struggle with repeating their mechanics in spite of the fact that they're in the top 0.001% of people who play the game of baseball worldwide. We also see athletes who have annoying injuries that linger for extended periods of time and really change the way that they move. Small hinges can swing big doors - and sometimes you don't even recognize when the door is wide open.

I felt pretty darn bad for 4-5 months, but was able to tune it out because there were parenting and work responsibilities that had to get done. And, there was no way I was missing training. So, I effectively convinced myself that I felt fine. What can I say? Otherwise intelligent people often make really bad decisions when it comes to managing their own health, as it's hard to emotionally separate yourself from the situation like you would with a client or friend.

It took a few days of feeling really awful to snap me out of it. Two months later, I'm feeling a heck of a lot better and am back to have great training sessions. It was a great learning experience - and something that will definitely impact the way I interact with our athletes - but certainly not an ordeal I'd wish on anyone! 

Hopefully, next time you reach for that third cup of coffee or mid-afternoon energy drink, you'll think twice - and recognize that you're probably only doing so to mask a short-sighted decision in another aspect of your life.

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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 62

This installment of quick tips comes from Cressey Sports Performance coach, Tony Bonvechio. Enjoy! -EC

1. Avoid over-tucking your elbows when performing the bench press.

It’s widely accepted that to bench press more weight and protect your shoulders, you should tuck yours elbows tightly to yours sides and touch the bar low on the chest. This may reduce the range of motion you have to press, but unless you’re a 300-pound powerlifter with a huge belly, your elbows may still drift too far past the midline of the body if you tuck too much. This can add unwanted stress on the shoulders and make the front of the shoulder cranky over time.

It’s similar to tucking the elbows too tight to the body during rowing variations - it makes it easy to let shoulder slip into too much extension. That’s why we coach athletes to row with a bit more space between the armpit and the elbow. You limit anterior humeral (upper arm) glide while still getting full scapular (shoulder blade) retraction.

Instead, keep the elbows about 45 degrees away from the body and touch the bar somewhere around the nipple line. This also reduces the moment arm between the shoulders and the bar, limiting the horizontal distance the bar needs to travel and making it easier to keep your elbows under the bar for a smooth lockout.

2. Optimize your leg drive to make the bench press more shoulder-friendly.

On that note, using proper leg drive can spare the shoulders by accelerating the bar though the portion of the lift where the shoulders are under the most stress. The less time you spend grinding the bar through the first few inches off the chest, the better.

Optimal leg drive technique differs from lifter to lifter, but foot placement dictates leg drive technique. Lifters with shorter legs tend to thrive with the feet hooked tightly under the bench and the heels off the ground, while longer-legged lifters do better with the feet out wide and heels flat.

Either way, if you plan on competing in powerlifting, you have to abide by your federation’s rules, which may require you to keep your heels on the ground. Here are some tips for choosing the right foot position:

3. Try dark roast coffee to reduce caffeine jitters.

At first I didn’t believe it when Greg Robins told me this, but it’s actually true: dark roast coffee has less caffeine that light roast coffee. And while the difference in actual caffeine content by volume may be small, dark roast coffee is harder to drink in mass quantities than light roast, so a bolder cup may reduce overall caffeine consumption if it gets you to drink less coffee overall. If your morning joe gives you jitters, consider switching to a darker roast.

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4. Slow down the concentric phase of isolation exercises.

As performance coaches, we constantly trying to help our athletes become more powerful. That means we’re often coaching them to perform the concentric portion of most exercises explosively to enhance rate of force development. But when it comes to small muscle groups that often get “overshadowed” when performing single-joint exercises, sometimes we have to slow down.

Specifically at CSP, getting athletes to “feel” their rotator cuff or lower traps during arm care exercises can be challenging, especially if they rush through the concentric phase. Slowing down the tempo of all phases of the exercise usually cleans things up by keeping athletes in a better position and reducing contribution of unwanted synergists. For example, taking 3-5 seconds to externally rotate the humerus during cuff work can prevent the deltoid or lat from taking over.


5. When setting up for the front squat, exhale first.

I stole this trick from Miguel Aragoncillo and it works wonders for athletes whose elbows drop during front squats. Take your grip on the bar and before you unrack it, give a good hard exhale to get your ribs down. Then, inhale into your belly and back, drive your elbows up and unrack the bar.

While “elbows up” is a great cue for front squats, it won’t work if the athlete doesn’t set his or her ribcage in a solid position during the setup. Exhaling first gives you a better zone of apposition, allowing for a fuller breath and creating greater intra-abdominal pressure to keep you upright. Like Miguel told me, “Front squats are just abs and legs, dude.”

For a detailed write-up on the front squat, be sure to check out Eric's thorough post on the topic, How to Front Squat: Everything You Need to Know.

About the Author

Tony Bonvechio (@BonvecStrength) is a strength and conditioning coach at Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, MA. A former college baseball player turned powerlifter, he earned his Master’s degree in Exercise Science from Adelphi University. You can read more from Tony at www.BonvecStrength.com.

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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 5

Here are this week's list of tips to help you lose fat, gain muscle, get strong, and be just a little more awesome, compliments of Cressey Performance coach, Greg Robins.

1. Cook with coconut oil.

Many people know that cooking with oils such as extra virgin olive oil is an easy way to add healthy fats into their diet. However, coconut oil is a less utilized source of good fatty acids.

Coconut oil is a great source of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are named as such due the medium chain length of their molecular structure. What does this mean for your health? First, MCTs are more easily utilized by the muscles in your body, which means they are transported quickly to your mitochondria for energy, and therefore less likely to be stored as adipose tissue. MCTs also have a thermogenic effect that is nearly double that of other dietary fat.

Secondly, MCTs’ shorter chain length makes them easily digestible, which is a plus for populations with nutrient absorption issues.

Third, MCTs are ketogenic, producing two ketone bodies when metabolized. Ketones are used by the body as a source of energy, and in a lower carbohydrate diets can be beneficial as a source of energy.

2. Use the GHR.

The Glute Ham Raise (GHR) is a fantastic posterior chain builder. The GHR offers a closed kinetic chain option that trains the hamstrings in knee flexion, and thus provides incredible transfer to other hip dominant strength exercises like the squat and deadlift. Seek out a gym that has this piece of equipment, or pony up and add it to the equipment in your gym. Below is a video on how to set up the GHR properly and perform the exercise:


 

3. Figure out exactly how much caffeine you really need pre-training.

In a recent study featured in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers concluded that 3mg of caffeine per kg of body weight was needed to significantly increase squat and bench press maximal power. To put things in perspective, that is roughly 273mg of caffeine for a 200lb person. Upon a short google search of popular energy drinks, the average caffeine content looks to be about 150mg / 16oz can. An 8oz cup of brewed coffee yields roughly 90-100mg of caffeine. It is also worth noting that "Booty Sweat" energy drink does not deliver enough caffeine to be effective over a bodyweight of 190lbs, giving us yet another reason not to drink it.

The take home message? Caffeine has been utilized as a performance aid for many years. It is safe for most populations, and the amount does not need to be anything crazy to receive the benefits. With all the junk found in most energy supplements, consider black coffee as your new “go-to” when you need a pick-me-up before hitting the gym.

Note: to learn more about coffee, check out our previous feature here at EricCressey.com: Coffee Consumption and Health: Part 1 and Part 2.

4. Get a grip.

A strong grip is synonymous with strong person. It makes perfect sense: you can't lift what you aren't able to hold.

Furthermore, almost every lift involves your hands on the weight, whether or not they seem to have direct transfer into that exercise's success. Why is that important? When your hands are strong, that means your forearms are strong, and if you make the effort to squeeze the bar, DB, or other implement during every lift you will apply tension that transfers from your lower arm, through the elbow, and into the shoulder girdle. This is called "radiant tension."

Paying attention to training your grip will also help with lower arm pain, and keep your elbows and wrists healthy. Make sure to include a well rounded approach, with exercises that take the wrists through various ranges of motion. As well as exercises for the hands to include pinching and squeezing. Some easy options are: Farmer's Carries, Plate Pinches, Towel Rows and Pull Ups, thick handles, and wrist curl variations.

5. Surround yourself with different people.

In order to be successful, you must constantly challenge yourself to get outside your comfort zone. If you become complacent, you will eventually be passed by. With that in mind, make sure that you are constantly surrounding yourself with different people. In doing so, you will expose yourself to varying beliefs and ideas. Everyone has taken a slightly,or dramatically different path to get to where they are; even if they operate in the same sphere as you. There is something to be learned from just about anyone, if you are open to it.

Surround yourself with people who are as committed to being great as you are, but not people who are the same as you. In doing so you will find that your strengths have once again become a weakness, and your weakness may actually be a strength. The reality is that your constant exposure to varying ideologies is making you better.

With that said, here’s an action item to kick off your weekend. Schedule a time right now to go observe another coach, train with a different training partner, or just hit up a training session at a different gym than you normally attend so that you can experience new equipment and observe what other exercisers and trainers are doing.

Co-Author Greg Robins is strength and conditioning coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA. Check out his website, www.GregTrainer.com, for more great content.

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The Best of 2011: Features

I love writing multi-part features because it really affords me more time to dig deep into a topic of interest to both my readers and me.  In many ways, it’s a challenge on par with writing a short book, whereas individual blogs tend to be quick bullet points. That said,  here were five noteworthy features from 2011 at EricCressey.com: How to Deadlift: Which Deadlift Variation is Right for You? - Part 1 (Conventional Deadlift) - This kicked off a three-part series on why certain deadlift variations may be more appropriate than others for certain lifters.  Be sure to read installments 2 and 3: the Sumo Deadlift and the Trap Bar Deadlift.

Is an Exercise Science Degree Really Worth It? - Part 1 - I expected this series to be far more controversial than it was, but to be honest, most people simply agreed with me, so it was popular for a different reason!  Check out Part 2 as well.

Coffee Consumption and Health: The Final Word - Part 1 - As I noted the other day, one of the biggest surprises for me in 2011 was that my readers were psyched to get nutrition content at EricCressey.com, and Brian St. Pierre's guest blog on coffee consumption and health was one such example.  Be sure to check out Part 2 as well.

How to Fit Core Stability Exercises into Strength and Conditioning Programs - Part 1 - This two-part feature was published late in the year, but that didn't stop it from receiving enough traffic to rank in the top five at year-end.  It was a follow-up to the Functional Stability Training seminar that Mike Reinold and I presented at Cressey Performance in November.  Click here for part 2. Is Dairy Healthy? The Whole Story - Part 1 - This three-part feature was another great guest submission from Brian St. Pierre on a hotly debated topic in the nutrition world.  Check out Part 2 and Part 3 as well. Speaking of features, that wraps up this third installment of the "Best of 2011" series; I'll be back soon with the top videos of 2011. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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Coffee Consumption and Health: The Final Word – Part 2

Today marks the second half of an article on coffee consumption from Brian St. Pierre.  In case you missed the first half, check out Coffee Consumption and Health: The Final Word - Part 1. Alzheimer’s and Coffee? If you have ever worked in a hospital or assisted-living setting, you know that living with Alzheimer’s disease is not a fun thing. Well, I have some good news for you. On top of all of the other wonderful benefits coffee has to offer, several studies have also found that people who drink about three cups per day had a marked reduction in cognitive impairment compared to those non-drinkers. Once you got up to four or more cups per day, though, the associated protection disappeared. This protection was not seen with tea or decaf coffee, so the benefit seems to be from the combination of the caffeine and some of coffee’s bioactive compounds.

Now, this is where it gets really interesting. As noted above some as-yet-unknown bioactive compound in coffee interacts with its caffeine content, and is responsible for its association with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s.  In fact, new research from the University of South Florida found that this combination boosts blood levels of a critical growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor) that seems to prevent the formation of Alzheimer’s disease. GCSF is a substance that people with Alzheimer’s disease have less of than the rest of the population. It has been shown in mice with the disease that increasing GCSF improves memory. “Caffeinated coffee provides a natural increase in blood GCSF levels,” said USF neuroscientist Dr. Chuanhai Cao, lead author of the study. “The exact way that this occurs is not understood. There is a synergistic interaction between caffeine and some mystery component of coffee that provides this beneficial increase in blood GCSF levels.” In this study, the researchers compared the effects of regular and decaf coffee to those of caffeine alone.  In both Alzheimer’s mice and normal mice, treatment with regular coffee dramatically increased blood levels of GCSF; neither caffeine alone nor decaf coffee provided this effect. The researchers identified three ways that GCSF seems to improve memory performance in the Alzheimer’s mice. First, GCSF recruits stem cells from bone marrow to enter the brain and remove the harmful beta-amyloid protein that initiates the disease. GCSF also creates new connections between brain cells and increases the birth of new neurons in the brain.

It is also important to point out that while this study was performed in mice, the researchers have indicated they also have evidence of this coffee consumption effect in humans and will publish their results soon. “No synthetic drugs have yet been developed to treat the underlying Alzheimer’s disease process” said Dr. Gary Arendash, the study’s other lead author. “We see no reason why an inherently natural product such as coffee cannot be more beneficial and safer than medications, especially to protect against a disease that takes decades to become apparent after it starts in the brain.”

“Coffee is inexpensive, readily available, easily gets into the brain, appears to directly attack the disease process, and has few side-effects for most of us,” said Dr. Cao.

According to the researchers, no other Alzheimer’s therapy being developed comes close to meeting all these criteria.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind enjoying a few cups of inexpensive coffee to significantly decrease my risk of such a debilitating disease. Conclusion Just like with all foods (and nutrients for that matter) there is a U-shaped curve on the benefits of coffee for those who can tolerate it. While some studies have found large intakes (5-6 cups) to have significant benefits, other research seems to show that coffee consumption that high tends to trend back down the curve. Some is good, but more might not be better, especially if you are a slow metabolizer.

Looking at the totality of data, it seems that 24oz of coffee per day will maximize the benefits while minimizing the risk. So, feel free to enjoy a few cups of joe and keep your brain, liver, gallbladder, prostate, breasts, upper GI tract, and heart healthy. Top off the day with a few cups of tea and plenty of fresh water, and your fluid intake will do wonders for your health and performance. Note from EC: Alzheimer's discussions hit very close to home for my family, as my grandfather passed away just over one year ago following a long battle with the disease.  To that end,  in order to help raise awareness, I'll be donating $0.10 to the Alzheimer's Association for every Tweet and Facebook share of this article by Friday at midnight.  You can do so at the top of this page; thanks for your support.

About the Author

Brian St. Pierre is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He received his degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition with a focus in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine, and he is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the same institution. He was the Nutritionist and a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA for three years. He is also the author of the Show and Go Nutrition Guide, the accompanying nutrition manual to Eric Cressey’s Show and Go Training System. With his passion for seeing his clients succeed, Brian is able to use his knowledge, experience, and energy to create highly effective training and nutrition programs for clients of any age and background. For more information, check out his website. Related Posts Is Dairy Healthy? The Whole Story - Part 1 Precision Nutrition's Travel Strategies for Eating on the Road Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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References Eskelinen MH, et al. Midlife Coffee and Tea Drinking and the Risk of Late-Life Dementia: A Population-Based CAIDE Study. J Alzheimers Dis. January 2009. 16(1);85-91 Cao C, et al. Caffeine suppresses amyloid-beta levels in plasma and brain of Alzheimer's disease transgenic mice. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;17(3):681-97.
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Coffee Consumption and Health: The Final Word – Part 1

I'm excited to present to you an awesome guest post on coffee consumption from Brian St. Pierre.  I learned a lot reading this two-part series over, and I'm sure you will, too!

Coffee is the second most popular drink in the world, trailing only water (and debatably, tea). As you all know, caffeine is a key component of coffee and is a compound of great debate.  It is the world’s most consumed psychoactive drug, with 90% of North American adults consuming caffeine daily. However, is this such a bad thing?

Many health advocates would try to convince you to give up coffee and possibly even caffeine altogether. However new research has certainly raised the question, should we actually give up our beloved Cup o’ Joe?

Does Metabolism Matter?

There is a lot of conflicting research on coffee consumption, and it seems to be because people have different clearance rates for caffeine. On one hand, you have the “slow” metabolizers of caffeine: people who are adversely affected by caffeine, get the jitters, and are wired for up to nine hours. Then, there are those who simply have an increase in energy and alertness that wears off within a few hours; they are considered “fast” metabolizers of caffeine.

This seems to be a defining difference in whether or not coffee will help you or hurt you, as those who are slow metabolizers may be at an increased risk for a non-fatal heart attack, while the fast metabolizers may not.

If you are a slow metabolizer of caffeine and coffee, steer clear.  It’s not for everybody, and it is not for you.  In your case, it can do more harm than good, and this may explain why coffee consumption has been associated with:

  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Interference of normal sleeping patterns
  • Increased PMS symptoms
  • Increased blood pressure, even in people without hypertension
  • Non-fatal myocardial infarction

Fortunately, this seems to be a minority of the population.  For those lucky enough to be fast metabolizers, there is good news – and lots of it.

Why Coffee Rules

Coffee has more antioxidants than dark chocolate or tea, and may make up as much as 50-70% of the total antioxidant intake for the average American!

A recent study found that men who drank the most coffee (6 or more cups per day) were nearly 60% less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than non-coffee drinkers.

In fact, at least six studies have found that regular coffee drinkers have up to an 80% decreased risk for developing Parkinson’s.

In addition, other research has shown that when compared to non-coffee drinkers, people who regularly consume two or more cups per day may have a 25% decreased risk of colon cancer, up to an 80% decreased risk for cirrhosis, a 35% decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, and up to a 50% decreased risk for gallstones!

In terms of the gallbladder protection, it was only seen in people who drank caffeinated coffee.  So, if you drink decaf, it’s not doing much for the gallbladder.

The final verdict on coffee and cancer is that coffee consumption is associated with a lower overall risk of cancer.  Period.  Specifically, coffee consumption has shown to be associated with a lower risk or oral, esophageal, pharyngeal, breast (in post-menopausal women), liver, colon, and aggressive prostate cancer.  Sounds good to me!

Beyond the health benefits, there are many noted mental and physical performance benefits as well. Caffeine has been shown to reduce the rate of perceived exertion, so it doesn’t feel like you are working as hard as you really are.  In addition, people who regularly drink coffee have been found to have better performance on tests of reaction time, verbal memory, and visuo-spatial reasoning.

Taking it a step further, another study found that elderly women over the age of 80 performed significantly better on tests of cognitive function if they had regularly consumed coffee over the course of their lifetimes.

In addition, many people think of coffee as increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), but the reality is that coffee consumption has been found to moderately reduce the risk of dying from CVD.  Another study, done in Japan, followed 77,000 individuals between the ages of 40 and 79. Researchers found that caffeine and coffee consumption were also associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

One other coffee/caffeine myth is the idea of dehydration. It is widely believed that caffeine-containing beverages like coffee and tea cause the body to expel more fluid than they provide, but  does the research actually back this up?

Nope.

A recent review of 10 studies found that consuming up to 550mg of caffeine per day does not cause fluid-electrolyte imbalances in athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Another review the following year found that consuming caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle does not lead to fluid loss in excess of the volume of fluid ingested, nor is it associated with poor hydration status. Myth busted.

That seems like an awful lot of awesome with respect to coffee consumption, but does it continue?  Check back soon for part 2 to find out!

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About the Author

Brian St. Pierre is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He received his degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition with a focus in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine, and he is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the same institution. He was the Nutritionist and a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA for three years. He is also the author of the Show and Go Nutrition Guide, the accompanying nutrition manual to Eric Cressey’s Show and Go Training System.

With his passion for seeing his clients succeed, Brian is able to use his knowledge, experience, and energy to create highly effective training and nutrition programs for clients of any age and background. For more information, check out his website.

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References

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American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, Houston, Dec. 6-8, 2009.

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