posted 21st December, 2011 under Nutrition and Health Cabinet.
At Hypoxi, we are often asked about our thoughts on coffee for our clients. Given that caffeine is the most common stimulant consumed worldwide then it is only natural that we field this question more often than not.
First and foremost, beyond the fact that your skim latte tastes so dam good we all love to rely on it for its ability to decrease fatigue and increase our mental alertness. Furthermore, it also increases heart rate and relaxes the airwaves, which is why some asthmatics like to consume it therapeutically.
From a positive perspective, your coffee ritual can boost your workout and provide that spark for you to work harder. This is particularly effective for endurance based workouts, where increased mental alertness allows you to last longer. Additionally, consuming caffeine increases your heart rate thereby encouraging your body to push its heart rate potential. That being said, all the studies I looked at were rather inconclusive thereby suggesting that once again, it is really up to the individual as to whether caffeine helps or harms them when exercising.
From a less than optimal perspective, caffeine consumed regularly can decrease the efficacy of serotonin and activate the release of dopamine, a major neurotransmitter that provides feelings of enjoyment and motivates us to push through certain tasks. This is a potential positive although it does make the stuff highly addictive…like any drug.
Another factor to think about is sleep quality. As caffeine affects sleep quality in some people and sleep quality affects your hormones and controls your appetite, your afternoon coffee can prevent you from reaching your best body and optimal performance level.
Furthermore, because your morning coffee blocks adenosine in your body and adenosine functions as the ‘breaks’ on your central nervous system, once you quit, your body accumulates the surplus adenosine. This results in headaches, shakiness and upset tummies, all common complaints of people withdrawing from caffeine. Doesn’t sound too pretty right?
And for those precious people who are sensitive to caffeine (of which there are many) caffeine can leave you running to the bathroom as it aggravates your gut and encourages diarrhea. Given also, that caffeine is a diuretic it also may leave you rather dehydrated which we know is a recipe for disastrously limp skin.
So what’s our answer?
Try to use caffeine when you need it as opposed to making it a part of your daily ritual. Use coffee as the stimulant it is prior to exercise but never have a coffee post workout. Having put your body into a state of stress through exercising, your top priority post exercise is to calm your levels of stress and dampen your cortisol response. Caffeine will definitely NOT do that!
What are your thoughts? Think coffee is a necessary evil in our busy schedules?
What is apparent is that the more coffee you have the less you will actually see the benefit from it, so aim to treat coffee therapeutically rather than as a given daily necessity.
Holly McBride of healthywholeholly