Original Articles by Charles Poliquin – 5/03/2013
Editing, additional content and information by Ahmed – 5/10/2013

Origins

The legend goes that an Ethiopian goat herder by the name of Kaldi discovered coffee after noticing his goats eliciting strangely energetic behaviors. They were jumping around and continuing to eat grass while refusing to sleep. He discovered that the goats were eating berries from a certain tree. After having a taste of them himself and experiencing the increased energy he announced his findings to the local Sufis. They were displeased with his findings and threw them immediately into a fire but the fire caused a strong pleasant aroma and soon coffee was born. It then came in use by the Sufis themselves during dhikr and prayers.

There must be some truth to this tale no doubt, but to know for sure is unimportant. The beverage that many of us consume at our offices or at our leisure traces it’s roots from Yemen. It spread from Yemen to the rest of Arabia, Turkey, Europe and ultimately everywhere else.

The most important of the early writers on coffee was Abd al-Qadir al-Jaziri, who in 1587 compiled a work tracing the history and legal controversies of coffee entitled Umdat al safwa fi hill al-qahwa. He reported that one Sheikh, Jamal-al-Din al-Dhabhani (d. 1470), mufti of Aden, was the first to adopt the use of coffee (circa 1454).

He found that among its properties was that it drove away fatigue and lethargy, and brought to the body a certain sprightliness and vigor.

Coffee was not without it’s ups and downs. In Turkey for a short period of time Islamic scholars deemed it haram (forbidden) equating it to intoxicants. Thankfully this was short lived and the ruling was overruled as baseless and unislamic. Coffee was triumphant. The same was short lived in Europe where the church deemed it as a drink of Satan himself. However coffee soon replaced daily European rituals of morning, lunch, afternoon and before sleep alcohol consumption. From a less than stable society to one that suddenly awoke to focus and energy and thus productivity.

Caffeine in supplement form

Now a days the main ingredient of coffee, caffeine comes in concentrated pill form in 50mg, 100mg and 200mg pills. A bottle with 60 to 90 200mg pills is relatively cheap and you can split them. This can be a quick morning or pre workout fix, but minus the anti-oxidants that may be found in coffee itself.

Many pre-workout supplements also come loaded with caffeine and other ingredients. Caffeine pills themselves are really cheap. The strongest caffeinated drink barely approaches 200mg so one pill is really that strong.

A strong coffee generally will be around 100mg but places like Starbucks may have 180-300mg caffeine containing servings which is quite extreme. Before my cardio and before my lifting workouts I do not exceed 200mg myself and I worked myself up to that dose. Generally an adult should not exceed 500mg of daily caffeine.

 

Some of the uses for Coffee/Caffeine

  • Caffeine is an energy stimulant and appetite suppressant
  • Caffeine stimulates the brain, increases mental awareness, making you sharper and more focused
  • Caffeine helps fight fatigue
  • Caffeine boosts performance, strength and endurance
  • Caffeine combined with educated use of other stimulatory and fat loss drugs can work wonders for fat loss
  • Caffeine is a mild diuretic which can help you drop water weight and bloat
  • Caffeine can be used to temporarily raise blood pressure in moments of low blood pressure
  • Caffeine can sometimes help with headaches and migraines
  • Caffeine is used in a variety of drinks other than coffee
  • Caffeine can help with constipation by causing the digestive system to contract. Keep in mind however since caffeine can dehydrate you and dehydration can cause constipation drink lots of water and it’ll work best in conjunction with hydration to help with constipation.
  • Caffeine can help prevent gallstones in higher doses, but as always consult a doctor for serious medical conditions and don’t be your own doc

Negative side effects of overdose

What is too little or too much for one individual can vary from one person to another. Like with any good food or drug there is always too much of a good thing. There certainly are side effects that can affect some people and I want to get that out of the way. Those that are more sensitive to caffeine will more than likely be prone to some of it’s side effects. Lower doses of caffeine may be more tolerable. I’m personally quite coffee/stimulant tolerant and do not experience any side effects except the positive effects.

Some of the side effects are extremely rare so the bellow chart is not meant to fear monger or scare anyone but just aware everyone on potential issues that some people may experience.

Potential symptoms of Caffeine overdose:

 

The many benefits of drinking coffee

Drinking coffee can have some pretty amazing health benefits. Coffee can even help you get lean because the combination of antioxidants and caffeine it contains will enhance the body’s use of fat for fuel. There have been numerous research studies identifying the many benefits of coffee consumption.

Coffee Decreases Risk of Total & All-Cause Mortality
At least 5 recent studies show that drinking coffee is associated with a decreased risk of mortality in men and women from a variety of ethnicities. For example, a large-scale 14-year observational study of more than 400,000 people found that the more coffee people drank, the lower their risk of mortality.

Men who drank 2 to 3 cups a day had a 10 percent lower risk of mortality, and those who drank 4 to 5 cups per day had a 12 percent lower risk. Drinking 6 or more cups decreased mortality by another 10 percent compared to non-drinkers. The figures were slightly higher in women, and they remained after adjusting for cofounders like age, body fat, race, education, and lifestyle factors.

Coffee Lowers Risk of a Variety of Cancers
Coffee drinking has been associated with a lower risk of lung, prostate, breast, endometrial, pancreatic, stomach, and colon cancer. In some studies the association is robust, while others have shown no benefit from coffee, which could be due to many reasons. But, it seems clear that coffee can be protective and does not increase cancer risk.

It is the antioxidants caffeic and chlorogenic acid that coffee provides that are protective against cancer and other disease. An example of how the antioxidants lower cancer risk is with endometrial cancer, which is a cancer of the lining of the uterus. A study of over 67,000 women demonstrated that women who drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day had a 25 percent lower risk than those who did not drink coffee regularly.

Researchers think the high antioxidant activity in coffee lowered oxidative stress, and that coffee also upregulates the expression of enzymes in the liver that help metabolize estrogen down the healthiest 2-hydroxyestrone pathway. This is a much preferred pathway for detoxifying estrogen from the body and it plays a role in preventing estrogen-related cancers such as breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer in men.

Coffee Lowers Risk of Heart Disease & Heart Attack
Coffee intake is highly protective for the cardiovascular system and has been repeatedly found to decrease risk of heart disease and death from a heart attack. In one 15-year study of 41,000 women, drinking up to 3 cups of coffee a day was linked to lower risk of heart failure. Similar results have been shown for men.

Coffee Improves Vascular Health & Does NOT Raise Blood Pressure
It is true that drinking caffeinated coffee can increase short-term acute blood pressure, but blood pressure will return to normal once the caffeine is metabolized. One study found that 8 weeks of habitual coffee drinking lowered blood pressure readings significantly.

The caffeine in coffee has actually been shown to improve the health of the blood vessels because it increases nitric oxide production in the endothelium (the thin layer of cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels), which improves vascular muscle tone. Coffee also supports healthy arterial pressure, lowering blood pressure over the long-term.

Coffee Improves Cholesterol Health
The antioxidants in coffee can improve total cholesterol, raise “good” HDL cholesterol, and lower inflammation related to heart disease. In one study, regular coffee drinkers were asked to increase their coffee intake to 4 and then a whopping 8 cups a day. This dosing improved the ratio between “bad” LDL and HDL cholesterol by 8 percent.

Coffee Decreases Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Metabolic syndrome is the combination of obesity, a large waist circumference, and insulin resistance, all of which increase heart disease and diabetes risk. Coffee drinking can improve fat burning, potentially influencing body composition, and it has been has been closely linked to lower  risk.

For example, one study of a Japanese population showed coffee consumption was inversely correlated with risk of metabolic syndrome because greater intake was associated with lower triglyceride levels and better glucose tolerance.

Preventing type 2 diabetes
Preventing type 2 diabetes, when caffeine is acquired from drinking coffee or tea. Drinking coffee or tea is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It appears that the more the caffeine, the lower the risk. In North American men, consuming 417 mg of caffeine per day from coffee or tea is associated with 20% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to men who consume less than 37 mg per day. North American women consuming 258 mg to 530 mg of caffeine per day from coffee or tea seem to have 10% to 30% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to women consuming less than 140 mg per day. Similarly, Japanese adults who consume 416 mg or more of caffeine per day from beverages including coffee or green tea seem to have a 33% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who consume 57 mg/day or less

Coffee Improves Body Composition & Elevates Fat Burning
There is compelling evidence that coffee increases your metabolic rate so that you burn more calories, and it can help shift the body to burn fat rather than glucose for energy. In addition, coffee modulates blood sugar and can improve insulin sensitivity. Caffeine taken alone, however, has been shown to decrease insulin sensitivity, which is only relevant to this discussion if you have problems with insulin, are popping caffeine pills, and eating high-carb foods.

The fat loss effect of coffee drinking hasn’t been studied extensively, but one study showed drinking 500 ml of coffee daily for 4 weeks produced 2.5 kg weight loss in overweight subjects. Perhaps more effective, green coffee extract, which comes from the bean before roasting and can be added to any beverage, has been shown to produce significant fat loss.

One study found that a high-dose of green coffee extract (1050 mg) taken for 6 weeks resulted in an average 8 kg loss in body weight and a 4.4 percent drop in body fat—very impressive! A low green coffee dose produced no changes in body composition.

Caffeine Increases Power & Strength Performance
Sports scientists like to test the effect of caffeine supplements on athletic performance because isolating a part of the plant allows them to avoid confounding variables, such as the antioxidants. That said, you can improve power and strength performance by getting the right dose of pre-workout caffeine from a supplement since using coffee as your sole source of caffeine would require 6 to 9 cups for a 90 kg lifter, depending on sensitivity to the caffeine.

One study found that a dose of 3 mg/kg of body weight of caffeine is necessary to improve power output in the squat and bench press. Another study showed that taking caffeine before early morning workouts can elevate performance in the morning when it is naturally diminished compared to later in the day. Caffeine is thought to act directly on the muscles to produce greater power and strength, rather than acting directly on the nervous system.

Caffeine Speeds Recovery and Reduces Muscle Soreness
Caffeine can speed recovery and reduce post-workout muscle soreness by up to 48 percent. It can also improve performance during a second high-intensity workout performed in one day. One study showed that giving athletes 8 mg/kg of body weight of caffeine after performing a glycogen-depleting exercise trial to exhaustion allowed for better performance on a second sprint interval test also done to exhaustion 4 hours later.

The group that took the caffeine went for 48 minutes compared to only 19 minutes by the placebo group and 32 minutes in a group that only drank carbs. Researchers suggest the caffeine may improve muscle glycogen resynthesize post-workout, while mobilizing fatty acids to be burned for fuel during exercise.

Caffeine Increases Motivation & Reaction Time

Taking 4 mg/kg of body weight of caffeine improved reaction time on soccer skill tests in athletes when sleep deprived.  A similar dose increased motivation and led athletes to voluntarily do more reps using 85 percent of a 1RM load when sleep deprived, resulting in a greater volume compared to a placebo group.

Researchers also measured testosterone and cortisol response to training in this study. The elevations in these hormones correlated to the volume of load lifted, indicating that caffeine did not lead to greater cortisol production. If you are sensitive to caffeine or have issues with cortisol but want the performance benefits of caffeine, take 2 to 10 grams of vitamin C after training. Vitamin C can speed the clearance of cortisol allowing for a better recovery.

How to get the best out of coffee

To get the benefits of coffee, you must follow a few simple practices. First, avoid putting sugar in your coffee. This is very important because consuming any sugar, or carbohydrates, with coffee will completely negate the stimulatory effect of caffeine. A recent study showed that when a group of volunteers ate a high carbohydrate meal when taking caffeine, the stimulatory effect was reduced by 90 percent compared to a group that just took caffeine in a fasted state.

To get the performance enhancing and fat burning effects of coffee during workouts, it’s necessary to avoid all carbs. A second reason to avoid carbs when drinking coffee is that it has been shown to acutely decrease insulin sensitivity, while simultaneously freeing up fatty acids. Don’t muck things up by throwing carbs into the mix. Therefore, if you must sweeten your coffee, do so with stevia, but avoid sugar and fake sweeteners at all costs.

A second factor to consider in preparing coffee is that research suggests you can maximize antioxidant content by brewing it with a percolator or French press. However, these two methods have been shown to increase the content of a compound called cafestol in the coffee, which has been shown to elevate cholesterol levels.

Therefore, if cholesterol is a concern, you may want to use unbleached coffee filters to brew your coffee, or avoid it altogether.

Another option would be to use a green coffee been extract to get the fat burning and antioxidant benefits without worrying about the cafestol effect.

Conclusion

You can always enjoy a variety of beverages such as teas, differently prepared coffees and other drinks with caffeine. If you haven’t ever used coffee for enhancing your performance or for fat loss give it a try. It is a safe and effective stimulant drug that can help your performance and fat loss goals. For any questions or suggestions do not forget to ask questions on our forum!

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References:

Skinner, T., et al. Influence of Carbohydrate on Serum Caffeine Concentrations Following Caffeine Ingestion. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Mora-Rodriguez, R., Pallares, J., et al. Caffeine Ingestion Reverses the Circadian Rhythm Effects on Neuromuscular Performance in Highly Resistance-Trained Men. PLOS One. 2012. 7(4), e33807.Taylor, C., Higham, D., et al. The Effect of Adding Caffeine to Post-exercise Carbohydrate Feeding on Subsequent High-Intensity Interval-Running Capacity Compared with Carbohydrate Alone. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2011. 21(5), 410-416.

Del Coso, J., Salinero, J., et al. Dose Response Effects of a Caffeine-Containing Energy Drink on Muscle Performance: A Repeated Measures Design. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2012. 9(21).

Echeverri, D., Montes, F., Cabrera, M., Galan, a., Prieto, A. Caffeine’s Vascular Mechanisms of Action. International Journal of Vascular Medicine. 25 Aug 2010. Epub.

Womack, C., Saunders, M., et al. The Influence of a CYP1A2 Polymorphism on the Ergogenic Effects of Caffeine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Spradley, B., Crowly, K., et al. Ingesting a Pre-Workout Containing Caffeine, B-Vitamins, Amino Acids, and Creatine Before Exercise Delays Fatigue While Improving Reaction Time and Muscular Endurance. Nutrition and Metabolism. 2012. 9, 28.

Lopez-Garcia, E. Long-Term Coffee Consumption Associated with Reduced Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality. Evidence-Based Medicine. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Mostofsky, E., et al. Habitual Coffee Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis. Circulatory Heart Failure. 2012. 5(4), 401-405.

Roach, R., et al. Coffee Consumption is Associated with a Lower Risk of Venous Thrombosis Which is Mediated Through Haemostatic Factor Levels. Journal of Thrombosis Haemostat. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Takami, H., et al. Inverse Correlation Between Coffee Consumption and Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome. Journal of Epidemiology. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Steffen, M., et al. The Effect of Coffee Consumption on Blood Pressure and the Development of Hypertension. Journal of Hypertension. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Wang, Y., et al. Coffee and Tea Consumption and Risk of Lung Cancer. Lung Cancer. 2012. 78(2), 169-170.

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