Viewing entries tagged


Coffee - pros and cons

Good morning and Happy Wednesday!

I hope you had a fantastic weekend and enjoyed the sunshine. What a glorious few days and let's hope it stays this way. I cycled for a couple of hours and it was so much nicer having blue skies and dry roads. Barbecue weather is fast approaching – we use it a lot on summer nights as it is quick and requires hardly any cleaning (gas barbecue all the way!).

This week I looked into the pros and cons of caffeine. There seems to be quite a lot of proof both ways, however the research is usually conducted on a high intake of caffeine (4 cups+ per day). I would recommend that the less caffeine you have the better, as your body starts to rely on it. It's most important to listen to your own body however, as some people can tolerate it much better than others. See below for the benefits and drawbacks.


Positive effects of caffeine:

  • Increased alertness, productivity and concentration through the release of adrenaline.

  • May improve memory and cognition.

  • Improved performance in athletes.

  • Has been shown to help prevent Type 2 diabetes in some people, however may make the blood sugar levels of those with diabetes worse.

Negative effects of caffeine:

  • Caffeine can cause physical dependence, requiring more to get the same effect.

  • Withdrawal:  you’ll likely develop withdrawal symptoms like extreme fatigue and splitting headaches (caused by ­constricted blood vessels).

  • Disrupted sleep: Generally it takes about 6 hours for the caffeine to clear your system, although it varies from person to person.

  • Too much caffeine is associated with reduced coordination, insomnia, headaches, nervousness and dizziness.

  • Ingesting excessive amounts can also put a strain on the heart and is linked with increased blood pressure and raised blood cholesterol in large amounts.

  • Coffee may increase osteoporosis - coffee can cause the body to excrete calcium in urine, and loss of calcium can lead to osteoporosis.

  • Disrupts blood sugar levels – can cause the same highs and lows as consuming sugar.

Calories and caffeine content of different drinks (taken from Starbucks, other cafes/home preparations will vary):

  • Espresso: 30-40 calories, 150 mg caffeine

  • Tall cappuccino semi skim milk: 100 calories, 150mg caffeine

  • Tall latte, semi skimmed milk: 143 calories, 150mg caffeine

  • Tall chai tea latte, semi skim milk: 180 calories, 75mg caffeine

  • Tall hot chocolate (no cream): 222 calories, 20mg caffeine

  • Tall Americano no milk: 11 calories, 150mg caffeine

  • Tall breakfast tea with splash of semi skim milk: 20 calories, 50mg caffeine

  • Instant/powder coffee with splash milk: 20 calories, 60-90mg caffeine

  • Green tea: 0 calories, 40-60mg caffeine

There is no strict recommendations for the safe amount of caffeine to have each day, other than for pregnant women, which is 200mg.  General advice is that 300-400mg of caffeine per day is safe and shouldn’t cause adverse effects.  However it is important to monitor how caffeine makes you feel and assess whether your intake may be higher than you think.  For me, 1 strong coffee will have me bouncing off the walls and unable to sleep if I have it after midday. Even hot chocolate keeps me awake :(

If coffee makes you feel jumpy, gives you palpitations, keeps you awake or you are relying on it every day, perhaps it is time to cut down. Try switching to tea initially, then down to herbal tea or nothing as you need it less.


Some alternatives:

1. Switch to black or green tea
High in antioxidants and polyphenols, tea has been shown to reduce rates of heart disease and cancer. Green tea in particular has been shown to have anti-cancer properties (although the amount needed for this effect is 5+ cups per day).

2. Try herbal tea!
Ginseng has been considered the king of energy tonics for several thousand years in Chinese medicine. Unlike coffee, which stimulates the central nervous system, ginseng elevates energy gently. Ginseng has also been associated with a stronger immune system and an overall sense of well-being. Other teas that are caffeine free include rooibos (redbush), chamomile, peppermint and fennel.

3. Eat some goji berries
Goji berries are remarkable for having one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of just about any plant in the world. In addition to their high antioxidant activity, these superfood berries have energy-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. Eat them straight, or sprinkle into your trail mix, cereal, or salads.

4. Sign up for our FREE 7 Day More Energy Programme - find out all about it here.

Let me know if you have any questions at all!