5 Reasons To Drink More Tea

5 Reasons To Drink More Tea

While getting, or staying fit, it might seem strange, but there is one aspect of calories that people tend to completely forget.  A sneaky perpetrator to an otherwise healthy diet is “liquid calories”.If you’re eating healthy all day, but slugging a juice or soda with every meal, you can cost yourself an extra 500-800 empty calories that are usually laden with artificial sugars and sweeteners.

The link to this entire arictle is listed below and has been published on one of the website’s I write for. Check it out at builtlean.com.

http://www.builtlean.com/2012/11/20/health-benefits-tea/

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

From South Bend,

Social Acceptance of Mediocrity

Social Acceptance of Mediocrity

I read this article the other day and thought it was just plain awesome. I wanted to share it with everyone to hopefully encourage people to exercise and stay active.

“I have a list of sayings that make my blood curdle, and “hey now, at least they’re up and moving” is close to the top of that list. We’ve all heard it before and probably have said it ourselves, but if you think about it, it’s depressing to see how that saying has become a norm nowadays.
           We now live in a society where doing the bare minimum required to keep your heart beating is supposed to earn you a pat on the back and a sugar-free cupcake (don’t worry, its only 100 calories…guilt free!). Since when did getting off the couch and moving around become an acceptable form of exercise? You may say, “Hey, at least they are moving around”, and yes, you’re right, that is the least they can do–but the problem is that they shouldn’t be stopping there.  Getting off your ass should be the thing you do when you wake up, not the physical highlight of your day.
90% of the time, I hear this saying when discussing those who walk as their main form of exercise. Sorry, but walking 15 minutes is NOT a workout; it’s a warmup for your warmup. Just for comparison, Alexander’s army marched over 5000 miles from Thessaloniki to the Indus river. That isn’t even counting the stops at tourist attractions or the journey home.
How long would this take you at 15 minutes a day?
Seriously, what happened to the grit that people used to have? My grandpa would call those people “the old breed”. When he lived in Africa, he would run 9 miles to school and 9 miles home everyday, with no shoes. See if you can get one of your fellow Americans to do something remotely intense for even 9 minutes before crapping out, but not before they congratulate themselves for at least “getting off the couch”.
Folks, you shouldn’t be fine with doing the least amount of work. Putting in the least amount of effort will get you the least amount of results. It shouldn’t be enough to simply walk around, you should be challenging your limits almost daily. I understand if you have a debilitating injury that limits your mobility, but most people don’t have debilitating injuries, they are just bloated and lazy.”
Directions on walking, in case you forgot.”
Conclusion
I really enjoyed reading this. I see this in the gym all the time. People get dressed in their “workout gear”, grab a sugar loaded gatorade, and sit on the bike and pedal at a slow to moderate pace for 15-20 minutes before calling it a day. 100 calories-burned later and mission accomplished. I get the same reaction when i talk to people about this. “well, at least they are in here trying”. I would much rather have people burn 100 calories playing with their kids or doing something active in the community then doing a moderate cardio routine like this. However, we live in a lazy society where convienience and luxury take priority over physical well being and activity. Do yourself a favor and surround you and your family with a group of people who live an active and healthy lifestyle so they hold you accountable when you say you are going for a 15 minute stationary bike ride and claim it to be a “workout”.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

From South Bend,

GAME DAY NUTRITION

GAME DAY NUTRITION

The idea for this blog came about from a call I got from a professional athlete this week who told me their “nutritionist” recommended fig newtons, vanilla wafers, and carbo-loading with pasta when suggesting things for this professional team to eat. WOW!

The average American consumes 20 pounds of pasta noodles each year — and most of it is the refined white stuff.

Most athlete’s  eat close to 10 times this much with their generic “pre-game” and “post-game” pasta dishes that have become common place in many athletic diets. In my experience in collegiate and professional hockey, we were served processed-white noodles 5 times during a weekend series! (Thursday night, Friday pre-game meal, Friday post-game meal, Saturday pre-game meal, and Saturday post-game meal). Looking back it is no wonder why sometimes I felt bogged down or felt like I had a tough time recovering. It’s obvious to me that “refueling” and “preparing” my muscles with starchy and processed-white noodles, that are stripped of almost all their nutrients and minerals due to the amount of processing they go through. probably wasn’t doing the trick. To top it all off(literally) I would dress these noodles with high sugar/high sodium/artificial sauces that spike your blood sugar and send your insulin levels on a roller coaster ride. My question is, why do athletes continue to “carbo-load” with these types of food?

Key Points

  • Glycogen is the key energy source your muscles use during most sports activities. These glycogen levels are filled up and stored up to 48 hours before your event. What you eat the day prior and night prior to your game or event is as/more important than what you eat on game day. Your game day meal is intended to supplement glycogen levels, keep you satiated, and stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • What you eat means nothing if your muscles aren’t properly hydrated. Again, the day before is just as important. Aim for 1/2  your body weight (lbs) in ounces from just water.
  • Allowing time for digestion is vital but eating too far an advance will cause you to feel hungry before/during the game. My suggestion is to aim for a medium to large meal 4 hours before game.
  • Your meal should consist of 50% carbs, 25 % protein, 25% fat.
  • 60-90 minutes before the game consuming a simple carbohydrate such as a piece of fruit will help provide extra energy that will be available during the game.

Typical Pregame Meal

The Problem

1. The Size: Processed carbohydrates like pasta noodles don’t keep you satiated. In order to feel full from pasta you have to eat a lot. This problem is amplified in athletes  because they generally have a huge appetite and require mounds of pasta consumed to meet their needs.

2. The Composition: Standard pastas are made with refined wheat flour. During the refining process, the nutrient-rich outer bran shell and inner germ layer are removed from the grain, leaving just the starchy endosperm. This process strips the wheat of much of its fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, leaving you with a much weaker product, nutritionally speaking. Some nutrients, including iron and a handful of B vitamins, are added back during manufacturing (hence the term “enriched flour”), but these represent only a fraction of what is initially removed from the grain.

3. The Carbohydrate Complex: Pasta is a simple carbohydrate. It breaks down to sugar in your body quickly and often does not satisfy your appetite as long as a more complex carbohydrate such as sweet potatoes. Whole wheat pasta takes a bit longer and some has a protein content that keeps you satisfied longer. This is why many athlete’s who eat pasta find themselves getting hungry before or during the game. Yes, a carbohydrate is a very important macro-nutrient  supplying your body with glucose, which is the favored fuel for your muscles, brain, and central nervous system. Choosing a carbb that will deliver a steady stream of glucose to your body will help regulate your energy levels.

4. The Toppings: Most Pasta is cooked in unhealthy vegetable oils and topped with a canned Alfredo or marinara that is loaded with sugar, sodium, and other artificial ingredients.

5. Your Body’s Ability To Adjust: Most conscious and high level athletes try and eat a clean diet made up of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. Filling your body with refined pasta noodles for an entire weekend can send your body into shock and cause digestive issues. Your digestive system can react negatively to the amount of processed food that has been consumed because it is used to otherwise whole/natural foods. This can cause bloating, stomach issues, and have lethargic implications.

What To Eat Instead

Complex Carbohydrates From Unprocessed Sources

Quinoa-A healthy complex carb that is actually a seed and can be made a complete protein when paired with other foods.

Amaranth– Technically, it’s not a grain; it’s the fruit of a plant. And that’s the reason it contains a more complete protein, and more of it, than other traditional grains.

Barley & Steel Cut Oats– A great option in the morning of a game day that will deliver a steady supply of glucose throughout the day.

Legumes– Black beans, chickpeas, and lentils are all great options for complex carbs that also provide a steady supply of protein and fiber.

Starchy Vegetables- Foods like sweet potatoes and squash that are usually shunned by low-carb lovers are  acceptable for athletes who will use the large amounts of carbs from these whole foods as energy for game time.

All Vegetables- Getting your carbohydrate sources from whole foods such as vegetables will ensure you are receiving the adequate vitamins, minerals  and nutrients that accompany natural-base carbohydrates. Unlike refined flours and pastas,which are stripped of most of the essential vitamins and nutrients that provide your body with energy, vegetables are natural foods from the earth that are identifiable for our digestive system and wont cause any gastrointestinal problems that are associated with many processed foods.

Lean Meats– While protein takes longer to digest, it will keep you satiated during the game and provide your muscles with a steady influx of protein to help with muscle recovery and muscle maintenance.

Great Examples

1. Chicken Breast with baked sweet potatoes and green salad.

A Pre-Game Meal for the Phillies

2. Chicken breast with Quinoa and asparagus.

3. 2 pieces of cod over a mixed green salad with carrots, parsnips, and potatoes.

Conclusion

Many athletes still dont understand what they need to properly fuel their bodies. Unfortunately many of the nutritionists and chefs that cook or prepare meals for this demographic don’t understand macro-nutrient profiles of foods either. My suggestion to all the athlete’s and people I talk to is ask questions and do your own research. If a nutritionist recommends to eat pasta on a game day ask them why and see what kind of answer you get. Unless you are running a marathon or playing a double header soccer game I never recommend “carbo-loading” with pasta. Most sports, like hockey, require shorts bursts of energy over a 2 hour time period. Eating 200 carbs in the form of pasta for a pregame meal is excessive for most athletes who wont even come close to tapping into all that stored glycogen from a large pasta meal. Keep it moderate and substitute some of my suggestions listed above. Remember, each athlete has their own individual preferences and requirements. Adjust your needs as you see fit and experiment with different foods to see what makes you feel the most energized and helps you recover the fastest.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

From South Bend,

Transitioning Your Workout Routine From Summer To Fall

Transitioning Your Workout Routine From Summer To Fall

This week’s post was written by guest blogger Jim Rollince who’s fitness and nutritional goals parallel my own. He is the head of the creative writing department at gymsource.com and I want to thank him for his time.

Now that the warmer weather is coming to an end, many people are confused about their workout routines.  You might have spent your entire summer swimming laps in the pool or using treadmills in an air conditioned gym just to stay cool.  With the weather changing to a cooler temperature, many exercise fanatics are finding it difficult to transition.  Believe it or not, autumn is one of the best seasons to workout.  There are quite a few benefits to exercising in this season and there are also a lot of different workouts that you can do to take advantage of the changing temps.

One of the major benefits about working out in the fall is that the temperatures outside are a lot more tolerable.  If you enjoy running or walking but have been forced to use home gym equipment because of hot temperatures, now is your time to get out into the fresh air and enjoy your exercise in a new environment.  Switching your environment when working out is essential for staying on track.  People, in general, tend to get very bored rather quickly.  This can be a recipe for disaster if you are trying to establish a steady and solid workout routine.

Another benefit for working out in the fall is that you will find it easier and more enjoyable to workout.  Just imagine yourself taking your daily hour walk, but this time you are walking in a beautiful park that is laden with autumn leaves.  The weather is cool, but you have your warm sweater on to keep you cozy.  This whole scenario will make you hungry to exercise and it will make your at-home treadmill seem boring and useless.  One way to really enjoy the fresh, crisp new weather is to take a gorgeous nature hike.  Find a hiking trail near your home and dedicate a full day to enjoying its beauty.  You will really be able to see the changes of the season when taking a hike.

Autumn really allows you to enjoy your exercise regimen more so than any other season.  If the weather outside is getting a little too chilly for your liking, do not hesitate to use treadmills, ellipticals or other equipment at home.  Instead of using an air conditioner, conserve energy by opening up some windows and smelling that delicious autumn air.  Fall is a great time to also explore your town or city.  The temperatures are just right for walking or jogging a local park or simply taking a walk down your road.  Looking at all of the fall decorations and holiday decor will also help to make your workout a little more interesting.

In general, you should take advantage of the changing season and make sure to change your workout routine with it.  Get some comfy and heavy workout clothes and do your exercises outside as opposed to staying cooped-up in the house.  You will find that you are actually looking forward to the fall weather and not missing summer all that much.

My Take

I think Jim makes a compelling argument for training in the fall. My experience in the fitness industry has shown that people tend to work out the hardest and most dilegentely from January to April due to New Years resolutions and preparing for beach season. My thoughts are with new seasons should come new challenges and goals. Personally, I intend to use the fall to try to put on a few pounds of healthy muscle. Setting fitness goals and tracking progress will help you to stick with a routine and ensure you don’t ruin everything you worked for in the spring and summer.

The main section of this article that resonated with me was the exercise outside portion. I have made it a weekend staple to wake up early on Saturday mornings and go for a run with a few friends on our football Saturdays. Running around campus and dodging the early tailgaters makes for great scenery and can turn a 30 minute grind into a 15 minute leisurely jog. So, my challenge to readers is find your own “Saturday morning run” that you actually enjoy and make it a routine.

 

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

From South Bend,

5 Tips For A Great Early Morning Workout

5 Tips For A Great Early Morning Workout

I never used to be an early bird. Sleeping in used to be a priority in my life. If I had to be somewhere at 9, chances are I would wake up at 8:50, throw on some clothes and goin order to savor every last minute of sleep. Over the last few years (with some help from the everyday 6 AM college hockey workouts we had) that routine has drastically changed. Now, I wake up and get my workout done before my day even starts. There are  physical and mental gratifications to have your workout completed. It provides a platform to  jumpstart your day and get you off and running… literally. My blog this week can be found here www.builtlean.com/2012/08/28/early-morningworkouts

Let me know if you have any comments or questions. For more of my articles on this website checkout www.builtlean.com contributor page.

From South Bend,

Kevin

Nutrition In Sports

Nutrition In Sports

My blog this week comes in the form of an interview I did regarding nutrition in youth sports and for professional athletes. Take a look and enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G8zkT5HpQQ&feature=youtu.be

Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

Best Exercise To Lose Weight

Best Exercise To Lose Weight

I get this question all the time from people trying to shed pounds and body fat. The answer is, there is really no miracle exercise that magically removes body weight and unwanted fat. However, some exercises are better than others in terms of burning calories which will give you a more efficient fat burn as well. For instance, a barbell squat will activate more muscles and require more energy expenditure than a bicep curl.

What to look for

  • Full body exercises that require the use of large muscles groups such as your quads and chest tend to burn the most calories.
  • Anytime you use major muscle groups to complete an exercise your smaller/stabilizer muscles are automatically activated creating an efficient and complete full body exercise.

The Best Example I Can Think Of

Once a military specific exercise, burpees have become a widespread staple throughout the fitness community due to the fat burning potential while still being able to maintain lean muscle mass. Full body exercises such as burpees can increase your lean body mass which can help to boost your metabolism which will create a greater post workout calorie burn, also known as the “afterburn” effect. Personally, I think a burpee is a great exercise because it can help activate your fast twitch muscle fibers. The explosive squat involved in the exercise will help recruit those fast-twitch muscle fibers and force them to grow. Burpees can also  increase muscle endurance if performed for an adequate duration such 1 minute intervals.

How To Do It

  • Start standing straight in an athletic position
  • Lower yourself in squat position with hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Kick your feet back to a pushup position.
  • Perform a full pushup
  • Immediately return your feet to the squat position.
  • Leap up as high as possible from the squat position.

Variations

Burpees With Dumbells

Burpees with medball

Conclusion

Studies have shown that high intensity exercises, like burpees, burn up to 50% more fat than conventional strength training exercises. They’ve also been shown to speed up your metabolism which helps you burn more calories throughout the day. The great thing about burpees is, not only are you preforming strength movements that will activate large muscles and stimulate growth, but you also tap into the endurance and conditioning aspect of traininig because of the nature of the exercsie. I was first exposed to burpees when I trained with a good friend who was attending west point and still maintain that burpees to exhaustion are one of the hardest evercises that are out there. They are also extremely versatile and can be performed in a small area and they require no weights. Like i said before, there is no miracle movement that will give you that coveted six pack. However, if there was, this would be it.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

Pre-workout Meals

Pre-workout Meals

 

There are a few important things to consider in the pre-workout meal discussion. Timing, size, and content are the three key factors in choosing a great meal that will give you optimal performance levels.
Timing– Ideally, a meal should be eaten between 2 and 3 hours before a workout in order to give your body time to fully digest the protein, carbohydrates, and sugar that will be converted to fuel to power you through those grueling last few reps. For all you earlier birds, I don’t expect you to wake up at 3 Am to make an omelette. So your meal and portion size will be much different.
Size– Portion size is extremely important because you don’t want to feel bogged down or bloated during a workout. On that same token ensuring your muscles are properly fueled is vital to prevent muscle degredation. The preworkout meal and time before workout are directley correlated. The farther away you are from a workout (say 3 hours) the bigger your meal (probably full size). If you are grabbing something 15-20 minutes before it should be much smaller and generally in liquid form so it is easily digestable.
Content-An ideal pre-workout meal should consist of 20-30 grams of protein to keep your body in an anabolic state to prevent muscle breakdown during your workout. Along with the protein, 20-30 grams of low glycemic carbohydrates is also advisable.

A 2-3 hour prior example 

A turkey/chicken breast, spinach & tomato omelette with a small serving of steel cut oats. Low glycemic carbohydrates such as spinach and steel cut oats will be converted to energy and used as fuel during your workout. Low glycemic carbohydrates will keep your insulin from spiking which can lead an energy crash mid-workout. This meal is also low in fat and fiber which will make it easy to digest.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole cage free eggs
  • ½ cup spinach
  • ½ turkey/chicken breast
  •  ¼ cup dice tomatoes
  •  ½ cup cooked steel cut oats with cinnamon and blueberries

Nutritional Facts

  • Calories-400
  • Protein-30 grams
  • Carbohydrates-30 grams
  • Fat-6 grams
  • Fiber-8 grams

I like to workout in the late mornings so the first thing I do when I wake up is start off with a great breakfast that has an adequate source of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat. The protein will ensure there is no muscle breakdown and give your body a steady stream of fuel and amino acids through your workout. The carbs will be converted to energy while the fiber and fat will keep you feeling full throughout the pre-workout/workout period. Adequate hydration is also vital to prepare you body for a successful workout. Ensuring your muscles are hydrated will prevent cramping and optimize performance.

Now, for the early birds. (15-45 minutes before workout)

 

Home made protein shake

My protein shake is very generic but an effective, homemade recipe. I shoot for a 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio made with the following ingredients.

  • 1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
  •  1/2 serving plain unflavored greek yogurt
  •  1 tbsp chia seeds
  •  ¼ cup of blueberries
  •  ½ banana
  •   1 scoop of unflavored 100% whey isolate protein powder (20-30 grams)
  •  3 grams of glutamine
  •   Ice cubes

Nutritional facts

  • Calories-300
  • Protein-25 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 30 grams
  • Fiber- 12 grams

A 2:1 or 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is ideal for refueling your muscles and replacing glycogen levels. Drink this shake within 30 minutes of your workout, or 30 minutes prior, to ensure your muscles receive healthy carbohydrates and protein from natural sources to rebuild muscle tissue that has been broken down during a workout. A liquid meal, such as a protein shake, is absorbed more quickly than solid food. The addition of fruit will help you restore your glycogen levels and transport protein to your muscles. Using natural foods such as fruit and unflavored yogurt will stabilize blood sugar levels and not cause a severe insulin spike that you get with most “store-bought” shakes due to the large amount of processed sugars and additives that are present.  The combination of chia seeds, fruit, yogurt, and almond milk provides an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. With such a wide array of products and additives that are present in many supplements and shakes, I always recommend people make their own, using unprocessed ingredients, to ensure your muscles receive the most bang for your buck. Here is a tip: Make your shake the night before and store it in the fridge to save yourself the hassle and cleanup in the morning.

Generally a medium-sized meal is recommended 2 hours before your workout to give your body a chance to digest and convert the food before you lift. With that being said, every person is different. Finding out what works best for you in terms of energy levels, muscle growth, and recovery is the most important thing. Whatever you do make sure you have a steady stream of energy to you can power through a tough workout.

Sorry about the recent hiatus and thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

5 Reasons To Drink More Tea

5 Reasons To Drink More Tea

Based on last week’s blog on coffee I decided to discuss another great beverage. I get a lot of questions about what people should drink and the only options I ever recommend are the choices I adhere to myself in coffee, tea, water, unsweetened almond milk, and yes occasionally alcohol.  So lets talk about tea and all the great benefits that come along with it’s consumption.

Tea Statistics
Pounds of tea imported to the U.S. each year 519 million pounds
Total amount of tea consumed in the U.S. every day 1.42 million pounds
Number of men and women who drink tea every morning 2 billion
Total projected sales of tea for U.S. in 2012 $15 billion

Although not as popular as coffee in the US, tea is still widely consumed and is a staple for many americans. Lets look at some of the benefits.

1. Tea Is Loaded With Antioxidants

  • Tea is loaded with phytonutrients such as antioxidants.  Antioxidants in black and green tea, called flavonoids, may help to maintain healthy cells and tissues as well as contribute to healthy cardiovascular function. Antioxidants are natural plant based biochemicals that prevent oxidation or “rusting” of living tissues.
  • Tea can also help strengthen your immune system because its attack on bacteria, free radicals, viruses, and fungi.
  • A study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School found that people who drank five cups of a tea were able to beat a cold five times faster than coffee drinkers were.

2. Tea Is Calorie-free And Helps Promote Fat Loss

  • So many people “watch what they eat” but ruin there otherwise healthy diets with sodas, loaded coffees, juices, shakes, smoothies, and energy drinks.
  • Tea is naturally calorie free and gives you your flavor fix while not costing empty calories found in most other beverages
  • Research indicates that substances found in green tea known as catechins and EGCG may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and decreasing body fat.
  • Recent research in animals show that catechins and EGCG found in green tea may also affect body fat accumulation and cholesterol levels.

3. Tea Increases Your Metabolism.

  • Drinking green tea or oolong tea offers the combined benefits of caffeine and catechins, substances shown to rev up the metabolism for a couple hours.
  • Research suggests that drinking two to four cups of either tea may push the body to burn 17% more calories than normal during moderately intense exercise for a short period of time.

4. Tea Reduces Risk of Stroke, Cancer, and Heart Disease

  • One study shows that Eight hundred elderly Dutch men consuming 3.4 cups of tea per day decreased their risk of death from coronary heart disease by 58 percent compared to those who consumed lesser amounts of flavonoid rich foods.
  • Flavonoids in tea may also decrease the tendency of platelets to stick together that cause heart disease and stroke.
  • Studies suggest that both black and green tea may help prevent or delay the formation of tumors-specifically in the skin, lung, esophagus, stomach, and colon.
  • Green tea, according to Harvard Health Publications, has cancer inhibiting components called catechins. Specifically, studies have shown it to reduce the risk of skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal and bladder cancer.

5. Each Variety Contains a Unique Blend Of Health/Nutritional Benefits.

  • Green tea’s role in lowering cholesterol, burning fat, preventing diabetes and stroke, and staving off dementia.
  • Black tea a potential heart tonic,cancer blocker, fat buster, immune stimulant, arthritis soother, virus fighterand cholesterol detoxifier.
  • White tea is the least processed tea and has the highest antioxidant levels, protects against cancer, heart disease, and stroke, strengthens the circulatory and immune systems as well as bones and teeth, and builds healthy skin.
  • Red tea contains magnesium, which is necessary for a healthy nervous system,  increases the absorption of iron in the body, contains potassium and copper minerals that are necessary for several metabolic functions, helps nervous tension and mild depression as it makes a relaxing sedative.

Conclusion

While I am a big proponent of caffeiene and specifically its impact on health and performance, tea offers a lower caffienated alternative to coffee with the typical cup containing about 10-60 mg of caffiene. Besides the obvious health benefits tea is versatile in that you can drink it both hot (winter) and cold (summer) and reap all its benefits. Like I stated earlier, anytime you can substitute a beverage that contains numerous health benefits for a sugar loaded juice, pop, or sports drink, is a no-brainer.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

Top 5 Reasons To Drink More Coffee

Top 5 Reasons To Drink More Coffee

Are we coffee addicts?

  • 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day.
  • Americans drink over 3 cups of coffee per day on average (regular 8 oz. cup)
  • 65% Americans drink coffee with breakfast
  • The U.S spends $40 Billion on coffee every year
  • Coffee is the second most valuable commodity in the world behind oil

Why is this beverage so popular and is it healthy? Here are some reasons to continue to have a cup of JOE. 

1. Coffee Can Lessen Your Risk Of Diabetes 

  • 25.8 million children and adults in the United States(About 8.3% of the population) have diabetes.
  • Antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid and magnesium found in coffee can improve sensitivity to insulin and may contribute to lowering risk of type 2 diabitie.s
  • In a recent study conducted by the Harvard school of public health subjects  who drank more than six cups of caffeinated coffee per day reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by more than 50 percent compared to men in the study who didn’t drink coffee.
  • In 2009, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that people who drank the most coffee seemed to have the lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That study reported that with each cup of coffee consumed daily, the risk of type 2 diabetes dropped by 7 percent.

2. Coffee Can Boost Your Metabolism

  • Caffeine, the best know ingredient in regular coffee, can raise blood sugar and increase energy expenditure in the short-term
  • Some studies suggest coffee can increase metabolism by 10%
  • Be aware that  a sugar-filled, flavored coffee can up calorie count and might actually slow down your metabolism (thanks to the sugar), shich seems a bit counterproductive.

3. Coffee Can Enhance Fat Oxidation

  • Caffeine increases the level of circulating fatty acids. This has been shown to increase the oxidation of these fuels, hence enhancing fat oxidation.
  • Caffeine has been used for years by runners and endurance people to enhance fatty acid metabolism. It’s particularly effective in those who are not habitual users.
  • Coffee can also enhance lyposis-the ability to burn fat. (see study below)

4. Coffee Boosts Performance And Can Decrease Fatigue

  • Caffeine is the most versatile and effective ergogenic aid (i.e. something that enhances exercise performance).
  • A prominent exercise physiologist, David Costill, Ph.D., performed the ground-breaking study on caffeine and exercise 26 years ago.He took nine competitive cyclists (two females and seven males) and had them bike until exhaustion at 80% of V02 max. (Note: V02 max, also known as maximal oxygen uptake, is a measure of how well your cardiopulmonary system functions).
  • Each subject consumed coffee containing 330mg (between 1-3, 8 ounce cups) of caffeine 60 min before the exercise or a placebo (decaffeinated coffee). Following the ingestion of caffeine, the subjects were able to perform an average of 90 minutes of cycling as compared to an average of 76 minutes in the placebo trial. This reflects an 18% increase! They also found that subjects burned more fat (aka lipolysis) as shown by measurements of plasma free fatty acids, glycerol and respiratory exchange ratios. In fact, fat oxidation or burning was significantly higher (107% greater) during the caffeine trial (118 g or 1.31 g/min) than in the placebo trial (57 g or 0.75 g/min). Also, the perception of effort was much less in subjects after consuming subjects indicating that exercise felt easier.(3)
  • Caffeine, which helps muscles use fatty acids for energy and blunts the effect of adenosine, can extend the time before muscles fatigue.

5. Coffee Can Increase Mental Alertness

  • Coffee contains a significant amount of caffeine, a widely used central nervous stimulant.
  • Our brain is the first organ affected by caffeine, where it interferes with the action of the neurotransmitter adenosine. Adenosine has a calming effect on the brain, so the result of its interaction with caffeine is increased alertness and wakefulness.
  • Caffeine affects the adrenal glands, stimulating the release of two adrenal hormones, cortisol and adrenaline — also known as hydrocortisone and epinephrine. These two hormones act to increase alertness and awareness.

What to drink

  1. Medium roast/filtered coffee
  2. 100% Arabica Beans
  3. Unflavored
  4. No additives
  5. No Sugar and No Cream

Conclusion

As you can tell, most of coffee’s benefits come in the form of antioxidants and its number one ingredient, caffeine. I have always been a proponent of eating and drinking things in their most natural state. That is why I will always suggest or recommend black coffee over a caffeine supplement such as an energy drink, energy shot, or energy powder. With little to no research about the energy drink market and their side effects, ( especially the long-term health effects) your best bet is to stick with coffee.

Final Thoughts

I never used to be an early riser. Ever since I started drinking coffee about 3 year ago I have found it much easier to get out of bed knowing I am going to have a great breakfast followed by a cup of coffee. Beyond the health benefits, coffee gives people something to look forward to on those cold rainy mornings. There is also the social aspect of coffee drinking that is added bonus. With the prevalence of phones, internet, and TV, having a cup of coffee with a friend, family, or stranger gives you a chance to put your technology dominated life on hold and have a good ole fashioned conversation over a healthy beverage.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin