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Is Coffee Good Or Bad For You?

This is a question I get all the time and the answer is, well it kind of depends. There’s new research out that shows natural coffee can have amazing “super food” like properties, but it all depends on the type of coffee and how you drink it.

The caffeine in coffee often gets a bad rap, sometimes justifiably so, but as you’ll learn natural caffeine from freshly ground whole coffee beans can provide some pretty significant benefits when used in moderation.

I recently read some research and listened to an interview of Ori Hofmekler that enlighted me to a lot I didn’t know about coffee. In case you’re not familiar with Ori Hofmekler, he’s one of the sharpest guys I know when it comes to nutrition science and fat loss. Let’s just say I’ve got my inner circle of people I pay attention to when they talk and he’s at the top of the list.

I’ve made a video briefly explaining an overview on coffee and then included a copy of several sections of the transcript from his interview. If you’re a coffee drinker, check this out as there’s some really good information here.

Interview with Ori Hofmekler on coffee by Dr. Joseph Mercola

DM: Dr. Joseph Mercola, DO
OH: Ori Hofmekler

Introduction:

DM: Hello everyone this is Dr. Mercola. Today, I’m here with Ori Hofmekler, who is going to enlighten us about some really important aspects on caffeine. Welcome Ori.

DM: Generally, caffeine isn’t perceived as a healthy supplement. It’s something that typically is avoided, especially the use of coffee, which has other issues. Caffeine specifically should be avoided for women who are pregnant because it has been shown to cause complications of pregnancy. There appears to be a niche or an area where it may have some therapeutic benefit. I’m hoping you can enlighten us on that.

OH: I’m a big believer in coffee in principle. I have been raised on coffee. I came from the Mediterranean, you know, from Israel. I don’t know what came in first, having breast milk or coffee. I still don’t remember, but using coffee was a big thing. I simply liked it. Later on, I did my own research for years.

Let me tell you, coffee was bashed, and sometimes for a good reason, because caffeine by itself could be potentially a major toxin. However, like other stuff in nature, when you come to the whole food, not the isolated caffeine, things could be exactly the opposite.

DM: Let me just interject here. That’s another area that is particularly concerning because my understanding is that most coffee is heavily contaminated with pesticides. It’s one of the most sprayed crops around. So you have to be really diligent. If you choose to use coffee, make sure you’re getting organic sources. I’m wondering if that’s consistent with your information.

OH: That is a very good source. That’s very good information. But besides the pesticides, which are a problem basically on all foods today, there are other issues with coffee. From the way they roast it, to the way they sun dry it, to where the coffee material — where did it come from — and to the roasting. These are technical.

Basically, if you have a quality coffee bean, even the roasted one, you get multiplied nutrients and flavonoids — antioxidants — such as in chocolate. You can really detect the quality of the coffee by taste and smell because arancid coffee bean, unlike even rancid meat, can expose itself immediately. A coffee which doesn’t have a good smell or taste, you can tell it, you can immediately detect that that is a stale coffee, so don’t even touch it.

We’re going to talk about the benefits of coffee and also the pros and cons of coffee. The first thing people need is to detect and to develop a taste for coffee, to know how to choose the bean and know how to enjoy it and, usually, drink it without any sugar. Yes, you really need to develop a taste for black coffee maybe, with a good meal but without the sugar. It doesn’t work together.

Let’s talk a little bit about caffeine in coffee. We’ll start with the bad stuff. Coffee had been bashed, partly, because of good reasons. First of all, most coffee beans today still are unfortunately rancid, beaten, and packed from ground beans that cannot even survive a few weeks before they get stale.

Why You Want To Buy Whole Bean Coffee And Not Pre-Ground Coffee

The rate of rancidity can go fast once you grind the beans. Basically, what you get is a degraded product with rancid oils inside. All that it gives you is just caffeine. It doesn’t give you the nutritional co-factor that you really desperately need. Second, many products actually contain isolate caffeine — synthetic caffeine — which is even worse.

DM: What is synthetic coffee?

OH: Synthetic caffeine is like any kind of synthetic compound that you isolate from the whole food. For example, vitamin C usually appears in food in a complex. It’s ascorbic acid, always attached with bioflavonoids, always attached with co-factors…

DM: So it’s not so much synthetic or artificially made, it’s just purified or extracted.

OH: It’s usually synthetic. They can today synthesize caffeine artificially in the lab. Totally pure.

DM: I did not know that.

OH: Yes, you can…including caffeine. In any case, you are right. The purified and synthetic are very similar, but the purified have some nutritional co-factors. The point is this, caffeine is supposed to come in tea, or in coffee, or even in chocolate. It’s a naturally occurring compound, in my opinion, highly beneficial. Let’s talk about this again.

Synthetic Vrs. Natural Caffeine From A Whole Food

Every time that a human gets naturally occurring caffeine such as cocoa beans which is chocolate, or in coffee or tea, it’s actually a sign that the food is whole. Every time that you do decaffeinated chocolate, decaffeinated coffee, or decaffeinated tea, you basically cut it out, you basically castrate the food.

A tea without caffeine is useless. It has lost all the bioflavonoids. Same with the coffee, the decaffeinated coffee has zero nutritional value. We’ll talk about the nutritional value in a second. The same thing with chocolate, chocolate that is decaffeinated is worthless. It has no bioflavonoids and nothing inside.

Research On Coffee And The Brain

The (indiscernible 7:43) caffeinated coffee in this food marks a quality of the whole food. All these foods, especially cocoa beans and coffee beans, contain very similar bioflavonoids which is a powerful antioxidant. The research has shown that both whole cocoa beans and coffee have amazing neuroprotective properties.

They did study in South America and they showed that people who drink whole coffee beans, you know, freshly ground coffee do not get Alzheimer’s, do not get Parkinson’s. This is just amazing. Chocolate has a very similar effect. That means the coffee itself and the other nutritional factors have neuroprotective properties.

Recent research – we want to talk also about the effect of coffee in sport nutrition. I’m telling you right now that coffee as it is, if controlled and if drank in the right amount from whole freshly ground coffee beans, doesn’t just save your brain from aging.

Recent research shows – I think I wrote about it in my new book – that coffee, which actually causes glutamate inhibition, triggers a mechanism in the brain that releases a growth factor which is called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF is doing something amazing. It actually activates stem cells to convert into new neurons.

BDNF is a major subject of scientific research today. It’s just going to revolutionize the whole way that people see the term rejuvenation. I think we talked about it before. The old school still talks about reducing collateral damage.

Guess what’s in the news. The news is that coffee activates this mechanism in the brain. If you do it correctly, you would keep your brain young by activating these growth factors that recycle your brain tissue and also actually gives neuroprotective benefits on the neurons. But just to sum up this subject, what’s even most stunning is that this neurofactor (BDNF) expresses itself in the muscle as well, and in the connective tissues.

The Effect Coffee Has On Fat Loss And Metabolism

But there are other benefits. Coffee increases your metabolism. They say by up to 20 percent. So taking coffee is the starter. We already discussed the benefit of training on an empty stomach. We already say that training while fasting is extremely beneficial to also trigger mechanisms that rejuvenate the muscle tissues. But at the same time, it accelerates fat loss far beyond any comparison. It really actually makes your body tougher.

One substance that can help you a lot doing that is coffee between exercise. It doesn’t just help you give you the starter energy that you need. It actually increases your metabolism by up to 20 percent. So with 20 percent more energy burned, energy output is pretty good. I always experiment with coffee before training. I can tell you it really works.

Where are the cons here? Caffeine also targets the adrenal glands. You really don’t want to over stimulate it. You really want to use coffee tactically at the right time. I really like to use it in…

The advantage of coffee is that it allows this person to be very fast. For people who train in the morning, I think having coffee in the morning before training is a fantastic opportunity.

I’m not a big believer in meals before exercise. We talked about it before, especially meals with carbohydrates. It can really badly affect your insulin. There are studies that show that eating after exercise is actually much more beneficial, and not just for fat burning. Obviously, you’ll burn much more fat when you train while fasting.

DM: So your current belief is that exercising while fasting provides a variety of different benefits.

OH: It’s amazing benefits. Except for one thing, you can have a low-glycemic, no-sugar-added whey before training that benefits you virtually the same way. Whey protein, the only thing that it does is send a flux of amino acid as a special fuel, but without raising insulin, so all the benefits of fat burning still exists.

I would say 20 grams of whey protein does hardly provide you any calories. It just gives you a steady fuel so your training itself can be more intense while you’re still collecting the benefit of virtually the same as training while fasting. It’s just amazing. But any other food, I don’t recommend. Anything that raises insulin before training would really compromise muscle build-up after.

The biggest advantage is to eat after exercise. Why do I say all this? I say it because if you don’t eat, if you decide to take advantage of this, here is coffee. Coffee can help you. If you don’t take the whey before, coffee can be the starter. It will give you the ability to knock out maximum performance while you are fasting – a huge advantage.

The careful thing is this, coffee is a strong substance. Again, it keeps the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate up. The body can actually handle itself if it’s coming from whole coffee because it doesn’t hit your body massively like synthetic caffeine. But you don’t want to abuse it. You also don’t want to hit your adrenals too much. The coffee does activate the adrenal.

Recommedations On How Much Coffee And When To Drink It

I would say for people who are smart, they should have coffee before training and maybe a coffee in the morning and that’s it. Don’t over — abuse it. Don’t just keep shoving coffee. As far as I did my research, for people who do consume it, the average coffee would give you between 80 to 100 mg of caffeine per cup. You don’t need to finish a cup. A shot of espresso will give about 45 to 50. That would be fine. If you have an equivalent of two shots of espresso per day, you’re going to do very well.

Here are the benefits; great starter before exercise, never after. Remember, we want to talk about it, never coffee after exercise. Don’t take coffee after exercise but definitely take it before. So you have it in the morning or in the morning before you exercise or before exercise.

Why Don’t We Want To Take Coffee After Exercise?

DM: It’s somewhat counter intuitive too because most people are having like a protein shake before their exercise so they would have fuel for the muscle, but your recommendation is to not do that, to avoid it. But instead, use the coffee for the reasons you’re going to tell us.

OH: The coffee before exercise is a great starter. Why not use it after exercise? Coffee affects your muscles similar to exercise. It increases basically the energy expenditure but it inhibits, like I said, it inhibits the mTOR, the mechanism in the muscle that increases protein synthesis. It actually inhibits, similar to exercise, the inherent mechanism in the muscle that builds your muscle.

The mTOR cannot be activated when you drink coffee. When you take coffee before exercise, the mTOR is going to be inhibited by exercise anyway but this inhibition, it’s very interesting. This is not a regular inhibition. Fasting also can inhibit mTOR, but what happens? Fasting, exercise and coffee inhibit mTOR similar to the way that a string is being compressed in a close box.

DM: When you say it inhibits, that’s mTOR. What is mTOR?

OH: It’s mammalian target of rapamycin. It is the technical name of a biological mechanism that when it’s activated, it increases protein synthesis in the muscle. We talk about the amino acid leucine, for example, that triggers that mechanism, the mTOR that increases protein synthesis in the muscle and builds your muscle.

Whey protein actually triggers it because of certain amino acids, and especially leucine, that it triggers muscle protein synthesis by triggering this biological mechanism (mTOR). But it is ironic that exercise inhibits and stimulates it at the same time. So when exercise and coffee inhibit the mTOR, as soon as you are off the exercise, mTOR is kicking back in with a vengeance. So now when you eat a recovery meal, your muscle is totally prepared biologically, except for the positive protein, and you gain muscle mass.

That’s why the timing of coffee is very important. Before exercise, it will work with the exercise itself. It really inhibits the mTOR but at the same time, it will stimulate energy production, burning fat and increasing performance. After exercise, it’s not time for the coffee. It’s time for a recovery meal which is, obviously, as I always say, good quality whey protein; one or two for a recovery meal.

I would say after an hour or two if you want to have another espresso, that’s fine but not right after exercise. You really want to give your muscle the opportunity to build itself up and recover. At that point, right after exercise, coffee is not going to kill you; it’s going to be a stick on the wheel.

Again, the best timing of coffee is always before the action not after the action. People who are heavy coffee drinkers, basically, if they don’t train, it’s not going to change so much. But if they do train, they are really compromising their ability to develop their muscle.

That’s my opinion about coffee.

DM: Thank you for your insights. It’s certainly counter intuitive and not consistent with what many people believe about coffee. It does appear that there is this specific indication where it may actually be therapeutic, especially if one focuses on organic high quality sources and not the refined processed or synthetic versions.

OH: Absolutely. I agree with you. I think that the super refined and synthetic versions are just bad for you. The human body never adapted to get isolated nutrients.

DM: It is really a whole food. I think similarly we saw a transition occurring on our views of chocolate. I was actually quite surprised in the late ‘90s when some of the research came out primarily funded by Hershey touting the benefits of chocolate.

Why Coffee With Sugar Does NOT Provide The Same Benefits

Of course that was with the raw cacao beans and the really important bioflavonoids. It could be a very important whole food, but when it’s highly processed and added with lots of sugar, it’s a completely different product. So when you’re recommending coffee prior to a workout, you’re not recommending a Starbucks with all the sugar and the refinements that they put
in.

OH: Absolutely. Well, you can get in Starbucks freshly ground black espresso.

DM: I have never purchased coffee. Actually, I didn’t have it anywhere because I don’t drink it. So I don’t know the offerings that Starbucks has, and I can’t think of a good analogy, but I’m sure they have good and bad versions.

OH: The majority of people like sweet stuff. For that matter you’re right. It’s totally correct. Once you combine coffee with sugar, it’s becomes adverse. It spikes your insulin to a level that you don’t want to do. Actually, you can become insulin resistant within minutes. Why would you do something like this to yourself? Coffee by itself will raise blood sugar, but not to the point it will really hurt your insulin.

How Coffee Can Help You Break A Sugar Addiction

Coffee has other advantages if we talk about it. It’s not really the subject of sport nutrition, but let’s talk about it anyway. We have addictive receptors in our brain. That’s the way the human brain is; we are basically addicted to life.

There is a good biological reason why people of today get addicted to food because, initially, the receptor is called the opioid receptor in the brain. The feeling of pleasure and addiction and the whole reward system is built on the idea that in primordial times, if you were going out there in the forest or open grassland, food was scarce. You did not have any grocery available, so you had to find a way to detect the difference between rancid and fresh food. Your best measure beside the eyesight is smell and taste.

You really need to develop an ability to do this – primordial men are closer to animals. Like other predators, (early man) they had a very good sense of smell and taste to know the difference between rancid food, and fresh food especially, when it’s coming to nuts and seeds which are staple human foods. What happened is that we developed a very high sensitivity with a very sophisticated reward system, pleasure or pain or disgust, that directs us how to choose food.

Unfortunately today, we live in a different world, a world that is not built on food or water scarcity, but rather a world of plenty, where food is not just fully available the food that we had before in primordial times was in a whole state(indiscernible 12:26) already. It’s very basic food on the ground like plants, greens, roots, sprouted beans, maybe, and especially nuts and seeds.

Today, the food that we are eating is hunger promoting, and mostly based on refined carbohydrates; everywhere, there is high glycemic food and refined sugar. Because of the aggressive taste and high glycemic points, our opioid addictive receptors that are supposed to help us choose food are now becoming addicted to the wrong stuff. Because this stuff is also added with chemical flavorings, people actually got used to the aggressive taste that humans never adapted to before.

So what happens now? Our opioid receptors are being occupied by sugary, high glycemic stuff, and that’s how people get addicted to food. But that’s only the first addiction. There are worse addictions than that, in my opinion, like to drugs, crack cocaine, morphine etc.

What’s amazing is that crack cocaine, morphine and sugar are competing for the same receptors. Do you know that basically all this stuff binds to the same receptor that makes you more or less addictive, but you are addicted?

There are very few compounds which are called opioid receptor antagonists. That means once they occupy the receptors they prohibit you from being addicted. Guess what? Coffee is one of them. Caffeine can bind to opioid receptors, and can at least attenuate the addictive impact of a substance.

So if you are addicted to sugar, for example, and you really want to train your body gradually to get out of this addiction – it’s possible, I wrote about it again on my new book – coffee would be a fantastic way to aid yourself. Train yourself to doing black coffee. Put it on an empty stomach and you will see how gradually the addiction will dissipate. It doesn’t matter; do this with any addiction that you have.

DM: So you’re saying just unsweetened coffee will help get rid of a sugar addiction.

OH: I believe yes. If you train your body over time, it will at least biologically occupy the addictive receptor. If you don’t occupy them, they will haunt you.

DM: It probably wouldn’t work if you added stevia then? This benefit wouldn’t occur if you added stevia as a sweetener?

OH: I think it would be virtually the same because stevia doesn’t raise insulin as far as I know. Anything, if it’s low on stevia or anything it’s not going to raise insulin. The whole idea is not to raise insulin.

The coffee will bond then to receptors. What we’re talking now is that one of the major reasons why most people cannot get into healthy eating habits is because they are addicted to stuff, like junkies are addicted to crack cocaine. It is a very difficult thing.

You’re not an addict to food. I don’t believe I am either. So it’s very difficult to judge people who are addicts because they are really in a problem. Coffee will be a fantastic aid. Train yourself like you are exercising in a gym. Train yourself to just obtain the taste for coffee. Train yourself and it will help you tremendously in many levels including that level.

DM: When you drink coffee, you never add sugar to it?

OH: Never. In fact, I don’t add sugar to anything.

DM: Of course that’s the ideal. It’s interesting. The insights that coffee does have benefits as you mentioned, but they seem to be all negated the moment you add sugar, which is what the vast majority of people do. Probably well over 90 percent.

OH: Joe, I couldn’t say better. You’re talking about the typical Starbucks, Coffee Bean, anything that’s what they sell. Sweetened coffee beverages — absolutely not what you want. You see it in energy drinks. You see it in protein drinks. There are protein drinks that put coffee in them, and I can tell you right now they are all negating the benefits.

I would say if there is a message on this newsletter, I can tell you, yes, coffee can destroy you or coffee can heal you. It really depends on your knowledge and how you use it. You do not want to mix coffee with any sugar, not at all.

DM: In some ways it’s kind of like guns. A lot of people are opposed to them but, certainly, it’s not the gun itself that is the issue; it’s how you use it. It certainly can be used for self defense. Or it can be used to harm or kill someone.

OH: It is, and you need to understand that this is a very powerful substance. I would say the same thing, I know it’s to a lesser level, with tea too. Just develop a taste for no sugar. If you want to use stevia or anything else, that’s your choice but develop the taste because sugar is adverse in all possible ways.

To listen to the entire interview of Dr. Mercola and Ori Hofmekler click here to go to Dr. Mercola’s article where he posts the audio and full length transcript.

Disclaimer On Coffee Consumption

I hope you found this to be an informative post and you learned a few things about coffee you didn’t know before. I should mention in closing that your decision to consume coffee should be carefully considered and discussed with your doctor if you have any health issues.

This is not a blanket endorsement as caffeine can pose health risks for some individuals and can be a strong toxin when overused. I strongly recommend if you drink coffee you do so in moderation as excessive consumption can reverse the beneficial effects.

Always listen to your body as caffeine affects people differently. I’m personally not a big coffee drinker and you certainly don’t need it to have optimal health.

I just wanted to share the information so you could understand the difference between natural and synthetic caffeine and how not all coffee is reacts the same way in your body.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts, a Charleston personal fitness training studio that specializes in weight loss and body transformation. You can receive a FREE, no-obligations (2) session personal training trial and consultation to experience the difference for yourself.

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Category: Nutrition.