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Is Coffee helping or hurting your goals?

The most researched supplement for sports performance benefits, weight loss and more…

Caffeine has been well studied for its benefits on athletic performance, while more recent studies have found a link between coffee drinkers and lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, possibly due to the antioxidant effect because both conditions are driven by oxidative damage in the brain. 

But remember, there is NO one-size-fits-all approach to diet because our genes, gene expression, metabolic activity, gut microbiome, lifestyle, activity level, etc will impact how we respond to a particular food (or beverage, like coffee).

Caffeine IS a psychoactive drug because of its effects on the brain. Specifically, caffeine is classed as a stimulant since it increases (or stimulates) the activity of the nervous system and brain. This explains the feelings of wakefulness or alertness that we experience after our morning cup of joe. 

This is due to caffeine’s ability to temporarily block a molecule called adenosine. As we exercise, think, and go about our daily lives, the level of adenosine slowly builds up in the brain, binding onto receptor sites. The more adenosine we have bound onto these sites, the more tired and drowsy we feel, and the more susceptible to the pain we are. 

Caffeine has a very similar structure to adenosine, meaning it can bind to those receptor sites and block adenosine. Less adenosine = less mental tiredness, and less pain. 

The second effect is directly within the muscle itself. To make a muscle contraction happen, we need calcium to move around in the muscle fibre. Caffeine is able to make that movement happen faster, so in theory that will help increase the force of any given contraction.


Fat burning is the third supposed effect of caffeine. Caffeine itself can stimulate the breakdown and release of triglycerides (stored fat), to free fatty acids which can be used as a fuel. If the body is able to use more fats as fuel, it uses less glycogen (the stored form of carbohydrate in muscles) meaning we may have more carbohydrates available for later on during the exercise session, delaying the onset of fatigue. 

General guidelines for caffeine supplementation for sports performance suggest 3-6mg of caffeine per kg of body weight timed 60 minutes before exercise.

3 areas to pay attention to:

  1. Overconsumption, which can lead to unwanted short term side effects such as:

-gastrointestinal upset


-mental confusion

-inability to focus

-disturbed sleep.

  1. Whether you are a slow or fast caffeine metabolizer:

-If you have a fast caffeine metabolism, you might be able to drink coffee at night and still fall asleep easily. If you’ve got a slow caffeine metabolism, you may drink coffee in the morning and still be unable to sleep at night. There are several signs that you’re a slow caffeine metabolizer, and most of them will make you feel uncomfortable. You’ll likely have negative side effects when you consume any sort of caffeine, including jitters, nervousness, and increased heart rate.

  1. Quality matters:

-Coffee now is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and these pesticides are well-known to be toxic to human health and the environment. 

-Mold and mycotoxins are also commonly found in many coffee beans. 

-Acrylamide, recently classified as a potential carcinogen in high doses, is a chemical that naturally forms in some foods during high-temperature cooking processes, such as frying, roasting, baking and during the coffee roasting process. Minimize your exposure by avoiding instant coffee and light roast coffees.

-Most commercial coffees are improperly packaged and stored, allowing them to be exposed to oxygen for up to several weeks before they make it to your kitchen. Exposure to air causes oxidation, which decreases antioxidant levels and thus many of coffee’s health benefits. 

Avoid sipping on a coffee that is harmful to your health by opting for brands that are certified organic - bonus points if they test their products for common toxins. While they may be more expensive than Foldger’s, you’re still saving money brewing a higher quality cup at home vs Starbucks. 

I personally drink a cup from this brand before my morning workouts: 


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