If you’re like me, you probably stopped mid-sip of … ahhhh … coffee, while reading that.
I know. It’s a question that none of us want to ask (obviously for fear that it may not be healthy, and then where will we be in the mornings?), but one that has to be.
I’ll give you the short answer quickly so your cup of bliss doesn’t get cold: coffee can be very healthy.
There are only certain situations that could make a cup of joe a bad idea (and I’ll outline them below), but for the majority, coffee is not only fine to consume, but also has several impressive benefits.
Read on for the lowdown on coffee and what it can do for you, or if you should avoid it.
So believe it or not, those little beans used to make your daily cup of wokeness are filled with powerful antioxidants and beneficial compounds. These compounds not only help wake you up, but can also help with fat loss, performance, and more.
Let’s dive in.
1. Can Boost Brain Function
We know that caffeine obviously has a stimulating effect on our energy levels (hence the entire reason for our morning cup),but it also has additional brain benefits.
Research shows that the caffeine in coffee blocks the neurotransmitter adenosine, which results in an increase in other, more energizing, neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. This then leads to an enhanced firing of neurons, resulting in better memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general mental function. [*][*]
Talk about a wake-up call.
2. Can Help With Fat Loss
Good news on something we always like to hear: coffee can help you burn fat.
This is also one of the reasons you’ll see caffeine listed as a major ingredient in many “fat burning supplements.”
3. Can Improve Performance
Alongside helping you burn fat, coffee has also been shown to boost performance (at this point we’re never giving it up, right?).
As we mentioned above, caffeine can help break down body fat, which can then be used rapidly by your body for fuel. Researchers theorize this is one of the reasons caffeine can boost performance by 11 to 12 percent on average. [*]
Interestingly, one study even found that caffeine can reduce perceived exertion; or in other words, caffeine can make you feel less exhausted after an exhausting exercise session than if you didn’t consume it. [*]
4. Can Protect Your Liver
Our liver is an amazing organ that helps with detoxing and, if damaged, can lead to sluggishness and all types of not-so-fun issues (even serious ones like fatty liver disease and cirrhosis).
Researchers have found that people who drink 4 or more cups of coffee per day have up to an 80% reduced risk of cirrhosis, likely due to caffeine and other beneficial antioxidant compounds in coffee and their effect on liver enzymes. [*][*]
5. Can Help Fight Depression
We all know sipping a latte brightens our day at least a little, but coffee’s cheer-inducing properties may go deeper than we think.
One study found that women who drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day had 20% less risk of becoming depressed, while another found people who consume 4 or more cups per day were also 53% less likely to commit suicide. [*][*]
When Should You Not Drink Coffee?
For all of coffee’s awesome benefits, there are some instances you might want to slow your roll on how many cups you’re having.
The first is obviously if you’re sensitive to caffeine, or if it makes you jittery. I’ve found that cutting a brew by doing half decaf and half regular can ease this up a bit. Otherwise, I’d suggest yerba mate as an alternative drink that can give you the focus of caffeine without the jitters.
Another situation in which you may want to avoid coffee is if you’re dealing with any thyroid or adrenals issues (like adrenal fatigue). Caffeine stimulates the release of adrenaline and other “fight-or-flight” neurotransmitters and hormones, which can tax weak adrenals and interfere with thyroid function.
Also, studies do show that coffee can interfere with sleep even if you have a cup at say, 3:30 in the afternoon. Any later than 3:00 p.m., and you may set yourself up for a restless night, so keep that in mind.
•As an aside, always consider if you’re taking any medications and how caffeine may interfere as well.
At the end of the day (or should I say, “the beginning”?) coffee is safe for most and carries a ton of benefits. It’s especially useful for fat burning and performance, so don’t be afraid to have a cup before your session.