EXPOSE | Vice or Virtue?
“Coffee is serious business. We Americans drink about 400 million cups of it per day and spend several billion dollars on it each year. It’s the most popular drug on earth, and certainly the most socially acceptable… Yet it’s also considered to be a vice, one of those substances that “everyone knows” is bad for you. Is it?” – Mark Sisson
EXPLORE | Good to the Last Drop
My have I grown. I used to have to pump so much chocolate into my espresso drink that there was hardly room for the coffee and milk. Not so any more. No chocolate. All coffee. And now that I’m “all grown up”, I wonder about what it may or may not be doing for me–and to me.
While most of us probably don’t wake up each morning looking for preventive cancer options, this bit of news should have us smiling all the way to the coffee machine: coffee helps protect against several cancers, reduces inflammation, increases mortality, and even helps mitigate sun damage. But as good as that can be, we need to keep in mind the downsides of getting too much of a good thing.
As the winds of New Year’s resolutions build, Mark Sisson gives us more than enough reasons to be confident about keeping this on the list of things to enjoy in the New Year–in case there was any question.
Let’s celebrate it’s goodness.
EXECUTE | Coffee is all That
In addition to the long-term health benefits, there are also to more immediate advantages that coffee provides by way of performance. Mark gives us a clearer understanding of what those are, and how to avoid some pitfalls:
Good for the brain:
“It boosts executive functioning and working memory… and also improves your mood and makes you think you’re drawing from a bottomless well of mental energy…” – Sisson
I know, I had to look it up to be sure. Executive functioning “is a set of mental skills that help you get things done” and includes the areas of: “working memory, reasoning, flexibility, and problem solving as well as planning and execution.”
Good for the body:
“Whether it’s endurance, HIIT (high intensity interval training), sprint, badminton, resistance training, or almost any athletic pursuit you can name, a cup or two of coffee before your workout can improve performance… And contrary to popular belief, coffee does not dehydrate you.” – Sisson
Good for the diet:
“It is the biggest dietary source of polyphenols… in the real world, where most people drink several large cups of coffee each day, it is the the primary way we get our antioxidants.” – Sisson
One of the pertinent cautions Mark provides is the impact of coffee on our sleep. While we may use coffee to “mitigate the cognitive deficits” from getting less sleep, drinking it in excess or too close to bedtime can be disruptive:
“Drinking it at night impairs melatonin secretion and reduces sleep quality and quantity.
Drinking it all day maintains alertness and cognitive performance, but detracts from sleep quality and quantity.
Having a double espresso three hours before bed phase-delays your circadian rhythm by 40 minutes, effectively pushing back the regular bed time.” – Sisson
Some key “don’ts” from Mark:
Don’t settle on one brewing method. Change it up to find your personal preference. Brewing method does make a difference on both the taste, and, the time it takes to get to that first cup.
Don’t drink it first thing. What?! Here’s what Mark is citing: “Cortisol follows a circadian pattern. Right before you wake up, cortisol spikes to prepare you for the day. Right after you wake up, it spikes again, pushing you to the highest levels of the day. Drinking coffee when cortisol is high is somewhat redundant. Since you’re getting less of an effect from the coffee…”
He recommends waiting about an hour after you wake up to have the first cup.
Don’t drink it when you don’t need it. Again, WHAT?! It seems that the best way to leverage coffee is when you’re ready for it: “Coffee works much better when you’re well-rested and those adenosine receptors are clean as a whistle. That’s when coffee truly shines. Rather than waking you up, it propels you forward to productivity, optimism, and greatness.”
Don’t worry about going organic. “Studies show that coffee processing destroys the vast majority of coffee pesticides…” Between the washing and roasting of the beans, in a recent study that Mark cites, “none of the 12 studied pesticides were detectable.”
Bottom line, starting each day with a cup, just. feels. right. But we can, knowing that there are some very good reasons to do so.
[Original article: the definitive guide to coffee]