For anyone struggling to keep New Year Resolutions to exercise more and eat healthy, help could be found in a simple cup of coffee.
Here’s the hard truth. The majority of people (me and you) give up our resolutions to exercise more and adopt healthier eating habits before we get too far into the New Year. Are we pathetic? No, it’s partly human nature and a whole lot of other things that derail our best intentions. We are busier than any previous generations with activities that are often not physical and require us to eat on the run during much of the week. Meaning we have to try harder to do better than our predecessors when it comes to taking care of ourselves. Let’s not get depressed. Research on the benefits of coffee could provide a solution in helping stick to your fitness plans.
First, I’m not suggesting that just drinking coffee can take the place of being active and eating better. Sorry about that, but as magical as the coffee bean is, it’s not a cure all. It is, however, rich in benefits.
Coffee and exercise
“Caffeine is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system, the heart, and possibly the ‘center’ that controls blood pressure,” all of which play a vital role in helping your mind and body push harder in a workout, says Heidi Skolnik, M.S., a sports nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Conditioning, Inc. “It can also increase the release of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, which effects pain receptors and mood” while you’re working out.
Experts also say that drinking a cup of coffee 45-90 minutes before you work out will allow the benefits of that caffeine to be most effective in your blood which can improve physical performance by up to 12 percent.
Coffee and pain
Ouch – why bring that up. It’s just true that when we exercise, even moderately, we will likely have some discomfort. Here’s the upside. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that wanted to see if caffeine acted as a pain relieving adjuvant. In other words, if it could increase the effectiveness of other drugs (like Ibuprofen) while using less of the other drug. They concluded that when caffeine was combined with other pain relievers, 40% less of the other drug was needed to bring the same amount of relief experienced with using just the non-caffeine drug alone. Feel free to have a cup or two after you exercise and perhaps you’ll not need to medicate with as much of the other pain relievers.
Coffee and diet
For many of us, coffee may be the primary sources of antioxidants in our diet. Did you know that coffee actually contains more antioxidants than fruits and veggies combined? By starting your day with a cup or two of coffee, you’ll kick start your way to improving health and fitness. And research has shown that coffees health benefits reach their peak in freshly roasted, high quality coffee beans. Flavor and nutrient loss occurs as time passes after the beans have been roasted and/or ground. And good quality coffee, properly prepared, just tastes better.
Coffee without sugar and cream
Obviously coffee tastes sweeter with sugar and creamer in it. If you are not drinking the best quality coffee available, you may simply be putting sugar and cream in it to reduce bitterness or acidity. Besides cutting the calories by skipping these additives, you will now be able to savor the nuances of your coffee’s flavor. Specialty coffee, like wine, has many subtle variations from the different producing regions and roasting methods. You’ll enjoy this new found exploration into different coffee origins and I think you will be surprised what a really quality coffee tastes like without the addition of anything else - and knock out a few calories to boot!
Feeling good about the coffee you drink
Art Linkletter once asked a small child on his show, “Kids Say the Darndest Things,”, Where does coffee come from? Her answer, “The coffee pot, silly”. Here is the same question, but asked more seriously. Do you know where your coffee comes from? That name on your coffee bag is often exotic, like Hacienda La Minita or maybe just a region or a country like Columbia or Guatemala. Did you know that 75% of coffee is produced on small farms of 10 or fewer acres? These farms are run by families whose primary source of income comes from this activity. Here’s the feel good part. Much of the coffee in the supermarket is grown on the other 25% of farms that are run by large corporations where profit is the bottom line. If you purchase ethically-sourced, specialty coffees that support these smaller farm families and the sustainability of the environment they depend on, you get a mental health benefit as a bonus – knowing you are doing good as you drink the world’s most popular hot beverage.
Don’t stop exercising and eating healthy. Stick to those commitments. And add some great coffee to your daily habits and watch what happens. Happy New Year!
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