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Coffee: Bottomless Benefits!

Have you had your coffee yet? Statistically speaking, the answer is likely yes. Here in the US, we put the 'nation' in caffeination, with coffee being Americans' 2nd most consumed beverage. (Water is the undefeated champ and gets the top spot). America is a global leader in many things, and coffee-related revenue is on that list, with no other country spending as much as we do. Our love of coffee energizes the US economy by approximately $80 billion a year, fueled by the fact that 63% of us have at least one cup daily and average closer to three cups per day.


If you like stats, here are a couple more for you: Americans drink about 400 million cups of coffee each day. If you're 60 or older, consider yourself in the 'super-sipper' demographic, with 72% of you and your peers being daily coffee drinkers.


We love coffee, you already know that. What you may not know is that coffee packs a solid punch of benefits related to exercise, health, and overall wellness.  


I was having a conversation with a couple of friends the other day, both in the medical field, and we got talking about the scientific benefits of coffee before running. Let's face it: anytime we realize that something we enjoy eating or drinking has some unknown advantages, that's some positive reinforcement worth spreading the word about!


Coffee isn't typically marketed as a fitness drink or packaged as an exercise supplement but when you consider its benefits, you realize it certainly could hold its own against the other options in the sports and nutrition aisle. Here are some things about our favorite drink (no offense to water) that you may not know:


Coffee is a fat burner- Caffeine sends a signal to use fat cells as energy instead of glycogen. Having a cup of coffee 45-60 minutes before exercising sets the stage for fat to be consumed as fuel, and it also increases the level of adrenaline in our blood, which also burns fat. (that's one of the reasons caffeine is an ingredient in most diet pills.) Coffee also increases our metabolism, which results in the use of more calories during and after exercise. (Remember, even walking around the block is exercise; it doesn't need to be a triathlon!)


Coffee decreases muscle pain- caffeine is highly effective at minimizing soreness during and after exercise, with up to a 48% reduction in pain reported by a University of Georgia study. For cardio, this means you keep at your workout longer, and for weights, it means more reps before feeling the burn turns into calling it quits. The science behind these benefits is caffeine blocks the receptors for adenosine, the chemical our body releases because of inflammation. It makes sense when we consider that caffeine is one of the ingredients in aspirin. Skip the pill and go for the mug!


Coffee keeps you healthy: We don't often consider coffee a liquid vitamin, but it could qualify as one. In addition to being chock full of antioxidants, coffee is also linked to a reduction in the risks of Alzheimer's, various cancers, heart disease, stroke, and Parkinson's. As an added incentive, coffee benefits mental health and increases lifespan.


Coffee for weight loss: If losing a few (or more) pounds is on your 2024 to-do list, coffee is proven to be a successful weapon in your arsenal, based on a Harvard study showing 4% weight loss in its 24-week study involving 126 overweight adults. That may not sound like a lot, but for someone at 150lbs struggling to lose another 5-6lbs, coffee could be the missing piece to tip the scales in the right direction. Not only does coffee speed up your metabolism, but it also acts as an appetite suppressant. Of course, any weight loss benefits could be quickly eliminated if you load it up with cream and sugar, so skip the add-ins to get the maximum improvements. (Iced coffee with a splash of skim milk is my go-to drink year-round, but it is especially great in the warmer months around the corner.)


Those of us who already enjoy coffee don't need a reason to grab a cup in the morning, but knowing all the advantages can make you feel even better about that daily routine. For anyone who has yet to find themselves in the coffee camp, these health benefits are an eye-opener to what awaits you (in moderation, of course). Fine print: The FDA considers 400mg in the safe range for healthy adults, which equals about 4-5 cups, depending on the size of the coffee you drink.


If you're like me and frequently have coffee before running or working out, you're no doubt already familiar with performance boost. Uncovering the 'secrets' of this secret weapon sheds a lot of light on why coffee is the ultimate sports drink; all the other health benefits are just a bonus. Cheers!



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