Caffeine. Many of us have a love/hate relationship with it. While caffeine does have some health benefits, it also has its drawbacks. One of the overlooked drawbacks is its effect on weight. While consuming the right types and amounts of caffeine can have a positive effect on health and weight, most Americans misuse caffeine in ways that are harmful to their health and waistline.
Up to 400 mg of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in 4 cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola, or 2 “energy shot” drinks. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, caffeine in powder or liquid form can provide toxic levels of caffeine. Just one teaspoon of powdered caffeine has the caffeine equivalent to about 28 cups of coffee. Such high levels of caffeine can cause serious health problems and possibly death. You may want to cut back if you are drinking more than 4 cups per day or if you have side effects like headache, insomnia, nervousness, irritability, fast heartbeat, or muscle tremors. Even if you don’t have these side effects, cutting back may result in weight loss and better health.
Benefits of Cutting Out Caffeine
Coffee and Weight Loss
1.Cutting down on caffeine can reduce overall calorie consumption. Sure, we know that a large mocha latte is jam-packed with sugar and calories. But, what we may not realize is that a couple of tablespoons of cream are worth about 200 calories. And if you have more than one cup, then you can do the math. Calories can add up very quickly if you consider how much “extra” we put in our caffeine on a daily basis. And when it comes to caffeine and weight loss, a few hundred extra calories can make all the difference.
But, so many of us find it hard to start the day without a cup of Joe. No worries, you can still get that energy boost and do so naturally and safely but do so without coffee or coffee-like beverages. Coffee and other types of caffeine can limit success with weight loss and overall health, especially when you start to tally up the empty calories of the added cream, sugar, flavorings and, other add-ins that essentially create calorie-laden “meals in a cup.”
In order to naturally boost energy in the morning without coffee, it is important to keep blood sugars stable, stay hydrated and never allow yourself to get ravenous. Protein, fiber, healthy fat, antioxidants, and long-lasting carbohydrates are key to a healthy morning energy boost…all without the caffeine found in coffee!
2.Less caffeine can mean fewer sweet treats. Cornell researchers recently published a study that showed caffeine may trigger the temptation for sweet treats. Researchers believe caffeine's ability to boost alertness also reduces people's perception of sweetness, which may make them desire such flavors more. The researchers believe that caffeinated coffee will change how you perceive taste, for however long that caffeine effect lasts.
Caffeine and Metabolism
1.Reducing caffeine = better sleep = better metabolism. Those of us who are sensitive to caffeine can feel its effects up to 12 hours after consumption. So, depending on what time you have your last cup of Joe and your bedtime, caffeine may be interfering with your REM cycles. If you wake up groggy, then you need more caffeine, and the cycle continues. But those who completely cut off caffeine sleep more deeply and better than those who drink even a little coffee. It may be an adjustment at first, but eventually, you'll have more energy than you did before. And those who get a good night’s sleep are rewarded with better metabolisms, which means burning more calories at rest and can help with weight loss.
This includes decaf coffee (there is up to 20 mg caffeine in decaf), teas, chocolate, and most sodas. Additionally, some over-the-counter cold and headache remedies are also high in caffeine. Be sure to limit all caffeine sources to 4 to 6 hours before bedtime and even longer if you know you are sensitive to caffeine’s effects.
2.Coffee increases cortisol levels, which slows metabolism. Caffeine is known to increase cortisol levels in the bloodstream. And cortisol is known to slow metabolism, break down muscle, and increase blood pressure, among other functions. So, it makes sense that cutting down on caffeine can reduce your overall cortisol levels, which in turn can increase your metabolism.
Bottom Line: Cutting back or completely eliminating caffeine may seem like a difficult task, but the health benefits are well worth it if you try!
So say good-bye to #butfirstcoffee and hello to these 6 energy-rich foods for your pick-me-up’s:
Protein in the morning is essential for sustained energy all day long! And eggs are one of the most bioavailable sources of protein, which means that our bodies absorb the protein from eggs better than other protein sources. They are also full of enzymes and hormones to help you feel energized throughout the morning.
Instead of nodding off during a mid-morning meeting, pop a piece of gum. One study found chewing gum can increase alertness and improve mood.
Citrus fruits, like lemons and limes, are rich in Vitamin C, which can boost our body's immune system. Lemon is considered a stimulating scent, and one study showed it improved subjects' moods and energy levels. The simplest way to get a boost, ever! Add lemon to transform regular H20 into a natural energy drink that is packed with electrolytes, which are critical for cells to produce energy. Hydration, in general, is key for a mood boost. In fact, one study found that women who were mildly dehydrated reported feeling fatigued.
Eating raw and unsalted almonds, which are a good source of healthy fats and protein, helps to balance blood sugar levels and keep energy levels up throughout the day. Almonds are also high in magnesium, which plays a key role in converting sugar to energy. They are also filled with fiber and protein to stave off hunger. Keep a bag of almonds or mix them into trail mix to have them handy to stay energetic all day long.
This ancient grain is best known for being one of the only plant foods that supplies complete proteins. It is rich in complex carbohydrates and protein. It is a highly nutritious grain that keeps you full and energized well into your next meal. It makes a great breakfast when substituted for oatmeal as a nice, warm and hearty breakfast.
We should all aim to consume two or more servings of fruit each day. Blueberries are satisfying berries filled with vitamins and minerals that provide a healthy dose of carbohydrates to keep energy levels high all day long.
Whether you’re looking to cut back your coffee drinks because of weight loss, improved sleep, lessened anxiety, or another reason, it can be challenging and lead to withdrawal symptoms. Examples include headaches, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty focusing. Luckily, these symptoms tend to be mild and resolve after a few days.
A few tips to get you started:
- Cut back gradually. Slowly work on drinking less soda or use a smaller cup for your coffee or tea. Another idea is to cut off caffeinated beverages after a certain time of the day. This will help your body adjust to lower levels of caffeine and lessen the withdrawal effects.
- Go decaf. Most decaffeinated beverages look and taste similar to the regular versions. This could help you adjust to less caffeine while still enjoying a hot beverage.
- Check medicine bottles. Some over-the-counter pain relievers and headache medicines contain caffeine. Pay attention to your bottles and double check for caffeine in the ingredients.
- Keep a log. Just like how keeping a record of what you eat keeps you accountable for your choices, reading labels and tracking your caffeine intake can help you identify how much caffeine you are taking in and keep you accountable to the goals you have set.
- Less brew time. When brewing up a cup of tea, the longer the tea bag remains in your cup the more caffeine is released into your drink. Try to brew your tea for less time or choose herbal tea which is caffeine-free.
Looking for more Seattle Sutton's healthy living tips? In addition to providing customers with delicious weight loss meal plans, Seattle Sutton’s provides a large selection of helpful tips and articles for losing weight and living a healthier life. Check out the blog written by our own Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Rene Ficek and Alyssa Salz.