Coffee - Are there benefits or side effects to drinking coffee? Who can drink it and who should avoid it?

Is coffee good for you? Are there any benefits or side effects to drinking coffee? And does drinking coffee affect weight gain around the middle? This blog explores this and discusses who can drink coffee and who can't.

Coffee - Are there benefits or side effects to drinking coffee? Who can drink it and who should avoid it?

I have an on/off relationship with coffee – I’m either drinking 3 cups a day or I’m feeling some side effect and I'm sworn off it!

But, I think for me, the issue is more around the milk and the comforting feel of a frothy flat white (the effects of milk on hormones is the topic for another blog).  

I remember my physio talking to me about bullet proof coffee and I dismissed it completely however, here I am probably 2 years later, as I write this I’m drinking a black coffee whizzed up with some coconut oil and loving it!

But does coffee affect our ability to lose the weight around the middle?

Also, what about the headlines that say coffee is great one day, and the next day you should avoid it!


Should you be drinking coffee or not?

There is actual science behind why different people react differently to coffee. It's a matter of your genetics and how much you're used to drinking.

NOTE: Coffee does not just equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some. (Choose decaf coffee that’s been decaffeinated using a water method rather than a solvent method to try to reduce the amount of chemicals you’re consuming)

Let's look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.


Caffeine metabolism

Not all people metabolise caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolise caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.

About half of us are “slow” metabolisers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations and feel "wired" for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half are "fast" metabolisers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.

This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much - because we’re all different!

The side effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body

NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.

Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):

●      Stimulates the brain

●      Boosts metabolism

●      Boosts energy and exercise performance

●      Increases your stress hormone cortisol

●      Dehydrates

So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.

Bear in mind that the increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, can lead to adrenal fatigue and leptin and insulin resistance which are all bad for shifting that weight around the middle. Check out this blog post to understand the main hormones associated with belly fat.


Are there any benefits of coffee?

There are a tons of studies on the health effects of coffee and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.

Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:

●      Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)

●      Increased sleep disruption

●      Raised acid levels in the stomach

●      Lower risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

●      Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes

●      Lower risk of certain liver diseases

●      Lower risk of death (“all cause mortality")

●      Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease

Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).

NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.


Should you drink coffee or not?

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.

Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:

●      People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)

●      People who often feel anxious

●      People who have trouble sleeping

●      People who are pregnant

●      Children and

●      Teenagers.


If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:

●      Give you the jitters?

●      Increase anxious feelings?

●      Affect your sleep?

●      Give you heart palpitations?

●      Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?

●      Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and milk?

Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, try eliminating it for a while and see the difference.


And what about coffee and belly fat?

·       Bear in mind what time of day you’re consuming coffee.

·       Stick to drinking it before mid-day because the coffee will stimulate your adrenals which in turn will interrupt your cortisol. This will affect your stress levels and potentially your sleep that night, both of which we want to look after if you’re going to shift that weight around the middle.

·       Try reducing the amount of milk you have in your coffee and maybe have a go at my frothy coffee with coconut oil (honestly, it’s yummy!)

·       In the afternoon, switch to herbal teas or my coffee alternative – a turmeric latte – recipes for both coming soon!

·       Do you take sugar in your coffee? Why not take the 5 Day FREE Ditch The Sugar Challenge?

Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Midlife Menu Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.