- Energy Drinks don’t give you energy – they borrow it from your cells temporarily
- Caffeine on its own has much different effects than drinking coffee and tea, which contain caffeine
- Coffee is a better choice than pure caffeine because it has been shown to have additional health benefits vs pure caffeine
- Some of these benefits are due to a compound called Chlorogenic Acid
- Different types and roasts of coffee will have different amounts of Chlorogenic Acid
- Green Tea has a huge number of health benefits as well
- Many of the health benefits in green tea are enhanced when combined with coffee
- Some common myths about coffee get debunked
So, a few weeks ago we agreed that energy drinks weren’t a great idea when you’re stressed, not sleeping well, and not eating a healthy diet. They basically just hold your adrenal glands upside down and shake the cortisol money out of their pockets like a big bully. And we know they don’t actually GIVE you energy. They basically just borrow it from your cells. So, you have some energy substrate floating around in your bloodstream, but if you’re drinking those drinks at 3pm at your desk like most people (and NOT fighting a tiger), then eventually that is going to go back into storage in your body. You know that phrase: “Don’t tease me if ya can’t please me”? Well that’s sort of what you’re doing to your body with energy drinks.
For a host of reasons, including “They’re healthier for you than energy drinks” I’m going to suggest you start drinking 2-3 cups of green tea and a similar amount of coffee each day.
I’m glad you asked...
Besides helping you deal with that lady Karen from work, at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning, coffee helps with a lot of other things, too.
- Coffee helps improve your cognitive performance so you can think straight
- Increases tolerance to bullshit by a small amount
- Makes your soul smile from the inside
- Improves both strength and endurance performance in the gym
- Helps your body refill your glycogen stores faster
- Helps you burn more fat
- Makes you happier (more serotonin!)
- Protects your DNA from damage, helping you live longer
- It may lower your blood pressure
Studies have also shown it can lower your risk for a number of diseases, including Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and Heart Disease. Part of that could be the antioxidant profile of coffee. Part of it could be that it helps you tune out your bosses and the general BS in the world around you.
There are a host of antioxidants and other compounds in coffee that make it much more beneficial than caffeine in pill or powder form. One of these is called chlorogenic acid, which is a lot different than the acid your parents were DEFINITELY NOT TRYING in the 70’s...
Some of the benefits of chlorogenic acid include:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improved glucose tolerance
- It may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
- It improves endothelial function (helps your blood vessels transport blood more efficiently)
One quick note – it's been shown that light roast coffee has a higher content of chlorogenic acid than medium or dark roast. For a SUPER in-depth look at all the science behind the type of beans, the type of roast, and the extraction method, check out this Suppversity article.
Now, there are some folks that prefer decaf coffee, I guess because they hate themselves or they’re sensitive to caffeine. The good news for them is, they can still get a lot of the health benefits of chlorogenic acid even without the caffeine.
Full disclosure: I used to be a trained barista (this is a real thing – I went to barista school in San Diego), so I’m a full-throttle red-eye kind of coffee guy. For those that don’t know, a red-eye is a regular drip coffee with a shot... or two... of espresso in it. Or at least I used to be. Now, I drink about 24oz of regular coffee each morning, along with about 30oz of green tea afterwards.
Why green tea AND coffee, you ask?
Boy, you sure do ask a lot of questions, don’t you?
Green tea, aside from letting you get in touch with your Zen side more than a sandbox with a rock and a rake in it (which Karen keeps on her desk and reminds you about every time she hears you getting stressed about those damn TPS reports...), also has a host of health benefits and JUST SO HAPPENS to be BFF’s with coffee.
The beneficial effects of green tea are enhanced when combined with coffee (just like you and YOUR BFF when you guys finally get together), resulting in more fat burning, a calmer demeanor thanks to the l-theanine in green tea, less anxiety and desire to sew Karen’s mouth shut and, if you’re too busy hanging with your best friend and not exercising, it will help keep you from losing muscle mass.
Benefits of green tea:
- Increased cognitive function
- Increased fat burning and fat browning
- Decreases chronic inflammation that plays a role in many diseases
- May help prevent certain types of cancer
- May have protective effects on the brain and neurons
- Can protect your teeth from cavities and bad breath
- Can help prevent the cold/flu and improve your immune system
- May improve insulin sensitivity
- May lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease (via improved HDL:LDL ratio and lowered triglycerides)
- May block absorption of carbohydrates and fats
- May decrease muscle loss during periods of inactivity
- Green tea may prevent a decrease in energy expenditure associated with caloric restriction
And even though it would be great to take a sick day from the office, green tea will help fight infections and decrease your chances of getting a cold or the flu for real (it does not decrease your chances of getting “the flu” wink wink). And green tea, like coffee, will ALSO help protect your DNA, helping you and your bestie continue living your best lives well into your 80’s and 90’s like all the hilarious elderly ladies we want to become. (Yes, even I would love to have the level of IDGAF that some of those ladies have).
Now, to dispel a few myths about these lovely substances...
Myth 1: Coffee and tea will dehydrate you.
Reality: Shut up, Karen. The reality is that, for people who are used to drinking coffee, this is simply not true. Yes, caffeine exerts a diuretic effect, but as you get habituated to coffee, this effect is minimized to a large degree. Yes, you will pee more, but you’ll also be hydrating more, which is a good thing.
Myth 2: Coffee raises your blood pressure.
Reality: Stress raises your blood pressure. TPS reports and bosses and traffic jams raise your blood pressure. Coffee might actually help to lower it. It’s a small effect, and not consistent in everyone, but some studies have shown a drop of 3-5 mm Hg in both systolic and diastolic pressures.
Myth 3: Coffee and green tea will help you lose weight.
Reality: If you squint hard enough, you can sort of make the case that this is indirectly true, but I’m going to be honest – it's not true. What IS true, however, is that stimulants like the caffeine in coffee and green tea can make your body break down more of its own fat stores for energy. That’s why caffeine and green tea extract are two of the main ingredients in nearly ALL commercial fat burners. But like with energy drinks, it doesn’t matter if you’re eating more calories than you’re burning in a day. That said, if you drink coffee and green tea and THEN exercise, it’s likely that you’ll burn a higher percentage of fat than if you drank water or motor oil. (Note: Please do not drink motor oil, ever. For any reason. Unless you are a car or truck. But since you’re not, please. Just don’t.)
Myth 4: Karen is a really nice lady once you get to know her.
Reality: I’m pretty sure she’s best friends with Kelly, that wench that tried to out-do your backyard barbecue. Honestly, I think they’re both talking trash about you behind your back. I’m not trying to start anything but...
Myth 5: Pre-workout with caffeine has the same benefits as coffee.
Reality: You didn’t even read the article, did you? This is not even remotely true. Pre-workout is like cheeze-wiz, whereas coffee is like a really fresh mozzarella. There’s just no comparison.
One quick note on creamer and sugar and all of that: STOP IT. Coffee is a wonderful and amazing thing. Stop defiling it by pouring three pounds of sugar and six gallons of creamer in it. Try drinking it with no creamer and sweetened only with stevia for a week. Stevia will help you manage your blood glucose better, while sugar will make you grow horns and hoofs. That’s a scientific fact.
(Note: That’s clearly not a scientific fact, but you never know...)
For a more in-depth look at the benefits of green tea, I put together a Green Tea Manifesto. In it, I tell you where to get the best green tea, how to prepare it to get the biggest health benefits, and answers all of your other questions about this magical elixir. Shoot me a note at email@example.com and I’ll send it to you!
And as always – use your powers for good!
- Caldwell, Aaron R., et al. "Effect of Caffeine on Perceived Soreness and Functionality following an Endurance Cycling Event." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2017).
- Pedersen, David J., et al. "High rates of muscle glycogen resynthesis after exhaustive exercise when carbohydrate is coingested with caffeine." Journal of Applied Physiology 105.1 (2008): 7-13.
- Trexler, Eric T. Effects of creatine, coffee, and caffeine anhydrous on strength and sprint performance. THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL, 2015.
- Richardson, Darren L., and Neil D. Clarke. "Effect of coffee and caffeine ingestion on resistance exercise performance." Journal of strength and conditioning research 30.10 (2016): 2892-2900.
- Bakuradze, Tamara, et al. "Four-week coffee consumption affects energy intake, satiety regulation, body fat, and protects DNA integrity." Food Research International 63 (2014): 420-427.
- Liang, Yue-Rong, et al. "Health Benefits of Theanine in Green Tea: A Review." Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 14.10 (2015): 1943-1949.
- Kahathuduwa, Chanaka N., et al. "Acute effects of theanine, caffeine and theanine–caffeine combination on attention." Nutritional Neuroscience (2016): 1-9.
- Lin, Yung-Sheng, et al. "Factors affecting the levels of tea polyphenols and caffeine in tea leaves." Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 51.7 (2003): 1864-1873.