Have another cup of weight loss
The nearly narcotic effect of caffeine, as delivered via a steaming cup of coffee first thing in the morning, is universally known, but here’s a new twist on an old habit: when you think you’ve had your fill, go ahead and have another cup of weight loss. That’s right, the same stuff that allows you to see straight after a rough night just might be a factor in your continuing battle of the bulge. But much like everything else about the effort to lose weight, it’s not as easy as simply slugging down more java or stocking up on Red Bull and then waiting for your dress size to shrink. Caffeine is like any other weight loss supplement out there – if you want it to work, then you have to work, too. And by work, we mean movement, especially exercise. If you do, and if you understand how caffeine might actually allow you to burn more calories while you’re at it, you might discover an advantage you didn’t know was there, already waiting in your 4-cup percolator.
Caffeine acts as a stimulant by blocking the production of a chemical in the brain called adenosine, a chemical that makes you feel fatigued. And while this isn’t news to anyone who rushes to the coffee pot before even turning on the morning lights, it opens a can of cardiovascular worms for those who head out to the gym afterwards. The effect of suppressed adenosine is higher blood pressure, which in turn feeds more oxygen to the organs and muscles, keeping them working longer than if no cup of Joe had been consumed. This is the principle behind energy drinks, which deliver caffeine about half as efficiently as a cup of coffee. It also speeds up metabolism, jacks hormone production and generally enhances mood and brain activity, all of which will keep you on the elliptical trainer a few minutes longer.
Athletes have used caffeine as a perfectly legal stimulant for decades. And while it does keep them in the game longer, the equation is different when the objective is losing weight. Rather than running faster and jumping higher, dieters who use caffeine are simply able to exercise longer, and harder. And the net effect of that is increased caloric expenditure, enhanced muscle mass and a generally faster metabolism, all of which contribute toward fat loss. In addition, studies have shown that athletes who ingest significant caffeine prior to exercise produce more muscle glycogen (fuel stored in the muscles) afterwards than those who don’t. This means you’ll be able to have a more active day after your workout, or if you’re really into it, perhaps return to the gym for a second workout later .
Like anything else, though, you can get too much of a good thing. The body can’t safely handle more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day, or the equivalent of two strong or three regular cups of coffee (a Starbucks Grand Latte has 330 grams of caffeine, so buyer beware). Beyond that amount the increase in blood pressure becomes an issue, not to mention dehydration, muscle cramps and stomach problems, all of which is counterproductive to your weight loss program and your health in general.
So drink up, but drink smart. If you view your caffeine intake as another variable in your approach to optimal health, you’ll be taking a step – hopefully many steps – toward your goal.