Considering the huge number of us that enjoy a cup of coffee every morning, both here and across the pond, you might think that we would know about all the benefits and drawbacks of a standard Cup of Joe. It turns out that in fact there is still massive amounts of debate about whether the consumption of coffee should be considered a useful tool or a naughty treat. And it’s not just coffee that’s being debated, it’s all sources of caffeine that we consume on a daily basis.
Just by doing a quick search on the internet you will notice that consuming caffeine on a regular basis has been linked to a whole number of benefits, illnesses and diseases. The problem comes with knowing who to believe. Are we supposed to assume one article is right just because it is the first one we have read? The trick is knowing which information to believe and what to ignore – remember to take the information you read with a pinch of salt!
That being said, let’s take a look at some of the benefits associated with regular consumption of either coffee or caffeine:
- Blood Circulation
Regular caffeine consumption has been said to help blood flow through our capillaries more easily and therefore helps with the transportation of oxygen around our bodies. As a result exercise performance could improve because the parts of your body that are being used, in theory, will be able to access and use that oxygen more easily and for a longer period of time.
The benefits of some things are often hard to see and therefore harder to believe. But with a cup of coffee it is almost unanimously agreed that one thing you can rely on is increased concentration. The art of staying up into the early hours to finish work we should have done weeks ago is completely dependent upon a cup of coffee and we are all thankful it is there. In all seriousness though, the caffeine in a cup of coffee boosts our levels of alertness and allow us to concentrate on specific things for a longer period of time.
- Muscular growth, loss prevention and reduced pain
The link between caffeine and our muscles is one that has been made by a lot of people, effecting our muscles in 3 ways – promoting growth, preventing loss and reducing muscular pain. Now the evidence for this might not be concrete but it is all to do with our personal perception. And it turns out that the evidence suggests that people who regularly drink coffee have a perception of less pain and increased growth. Of course it is completely possible that these effects are down to another element of your nutrition but some people firmly believe it is the caffeine.
Again a lot of this might come down to our perception but when people have a cup of coffee just before a workout they generally say they can push harder for longer. If we are to believe the supposed effects on blood circulation then this makes complete sense. Our muscles are receiving more oxygen over a longer period of time – of course you will be able to work harder and longer.
This doesn’t mean that coffee doesn’t have its critics. After all, caffeine is an addictive substance and is it ever wise to become dependent upon one thing? It’s also rare to see coffee drank black with no sugar. So a splash of milk and sugar might not be the worst thing but it will be taking away from some of those benefits. As for caffeine’s relationship with disease and illness? Well that’s one thing that isn’t really disputed anymore. Previously excessive amounts of caffeine were being linked to cardiovascular disease and all other kinds of serious illness. Thankfully any proof of that was failed and we now know it isn’t a risk.
That doesn’t mean we can go on drinking to excess though. But a cup of coffee in the morning followed by one or two during the day might just be able to help you reach some of your fitness goals.