Amanda Byram on the big caffeine debate

Last month we look at the big carb debate.  Should I? Shouldn’t I?  And we deciphered, yes, as long they are right ones and as long as you’re munching them to access. So this month how about the caffeine debate?  This debate is a big on in the fitness world.  Some go for the more puritanical approach and say absolutely not, others will suggest you nail an espresso before a workout to get you fired up and ready to work harder than ever.

Here, the gorgeous Amanda Byram breaks it down for us into simpler terms.  So have a read of this before making up your mind.

So one question that I’m always being asked is: 

 “Is caffeine bad for me?” 

A very good question and the answer isn’t that complicated, as long as you know what caffeine is, how it affects the body, and thus how you can not only manage it, but also make it work to your advantage!

So what is caffeine? All you need to know here is that caffeine is a stimulant. We all know what stimulants do right? They artificially increase your body’s metabolism and the effects are pretty immediate as we all know… moments after morning cuppa you are awake, alert and ready to take on the world.

But what is actually going on inside? Here we need to consider three hormones: Adrenaline, Cortisol and Insulin. And this is best explained with a story. 

Think of running away from a sabre-tooth tiger. The shock of the tiger causes your body to pump out ‘adrenaline’ helping you to run fast.

Next – the body releases the anti-stress hormone ‘cortisol’…. which converts fat into blood sugar, giving you enough energy to keep running.

Next, the spike in blood sugar triggers ‘insulin’ which we all know converts blood sugar back into fat.  And this is what you will know as the crash….

Now. Replace the tiger with a cup of tea or coffee, as it causes the exact same shock to the system.  The surge in energy is followed by a slump and so what do we do? We head down to the nearest coffee house and get another Americano! 

The more coffee you have the more your body thinks that old tiger is on the loose again! Your body gets confused and doesn’t know whether to store fat of burn fat whether eat or sleep or any of those other normal functions. And get this – because Cortisol has receptors in the abdomen, you will notice more belly fat. (sigh)

So give up caffeine right? Well NO! Because little amounts can really help… Here are my top caffeine tips:

  1. I’d recommend keeping it to one cup a day.
  2. If you need a second hit, try switching coffee number 2 with green tea. Although there is caffeine in green tea there are also lots of anti-oxidants.
  3. NEVER put sugar in your coffee or tea. Because the last thing you need is more sugar being converted into fat. Likewise avoid the creamy concoctions at your local coffee shop.
  4. This one is my favourite tip : Pour your coffee into a blender, and add a half a tablespoon of unsalted, grass fed BUTTER (yes I said butter!) or some coconut oil in with your coffee and blend for a few seconds. The result is a creamy coffee, but (good) fat slows down the rate at which caffeine hits your system and doesn’t give you that crazy high. Rather it keeps you on an even keel for longer.
  5. Caffeine is also a diuretic meaning the more you drink the more you pee! So if you are going to drink coffee make sure you stay hydrated. One of the first things I say to women who ask me about dark circles under their eyes is to drink less coffee and more water.
  6. Stay as far away from energy drinks as you would the tiger, because they are a DISASTROUS concoction of caffeine and sugar that puts your body through hell.
  7. Lastly, it’s pretty obvious but don’t have caffeine too late in the day. It’ll stop you getting a good night’s sleep and next day you’ll be so tired that the only thing that wakes you up will. Be – you’ve guessed it – more caffeine. 
Happy drinking!
Check out Amanda’s website for more health and fitness tips and advice.

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