Caffeine: The Best Part of Waking Up?

caffeineAs a fitness professional, I’m supposed to tell you not to drink caffeine. As a man who owns two companies and consults for two others, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t regularly contribute to Santa Barbara’s economic growth by supporting its local coffee shops. But this article isn’t about caffeine. It’s about the drinks that are regularly used to transport our country’s favorite stimulant to our bodies – the mochas, lattes, and ice blended drinks that some of us consume in mass quantities.

Clients and friends often ask me: is coffee good for you? The answer is both yes and no. There is science to back up both sides of the argument, with more pointing towards yes, but in moderation. We’ll discuss this topic more in our on-line newsletter in the future. The real question many of these people are asking me is “will my morning and afternoon coffee or espresso drink make me fat?” If you’ve ever wondered how that minor indulgence during your day can affect the aesthetics of your body, this article is for you.

Many of us have heard that a pound of fat consists of 3,500 calories. This means that on average, it takes an excess of 3,500 calories to produce one pound of body fat in the human body. For most of us, it’s not one pound that gets to us when we are in front of a mirror or lying out by the beach, but rather when one pound becomes two and two becomes ten. What if I told you there are some relatively minor changes you can make to help curb this unwanted addition to your birthday suite? Well, there is.

Straight espresso and black coffee contain zero calories. For some that equates to zero taste and so we add other components like sugar, cream, and milk. Then there’s the mocha. A medium white mocha (or “grande” depending on where you go) with whip cream will add an additional 510 calories to your diet. Oh, you get the large? Well, that will add an additional 630 calories to your diet! Let’s not even talk about going “breve” since we’d be packing on about 900 additional calories, which is almost the full daily requirement of an average woman. Or for those of you trying to shed a few pounds, that’s an additional pound of fat every four days.* Not to mention the delicious, but sinful pastry treats starring you down from behind the glass counter.

It’s important to note that just consuming calories doesn’t mean they will turn to fat – these calories can be burned off and more than likely the extra caffeine will cause you to move around a bit more than you normally would. There have actually been studies conducted concluding that individuals who “jitter” or fidget are more likely to be thinner than their calmer counterparts. It’s a basic scenario of moving the body just a little bit more each day and having that add up over time.

It’s all about choices. When I get asked the question “is coffee good for me?” I often talk about choices. If your goal is to lose fat, then you can make some decisions on how to cut those calories down. For the purpose of demonstration, let’s take our breve-mocha-with-whip drinker. If that person decides they don’t want to run a marathon after work to burn those extra calories, they may consider switching to a nonfat (nonfat milk) white mocha with no whip as a minor change. Total savings: 470 calories or one pound of body fat in about a week.*

As you can see in the chart provided, the importance in making an informed choice can be the difference of achieving your goals or being set back. Many of us would rather endure the change in our morning beverage choice if it meant that we’d be healthier and feel better about ourselves in the days to come.

The purpose of this article was not to dissuade you from visiting your local coffee house, but to help you make informed decisions about what you order while there. I hope this has helped and please, feel free to email me any questions you may have. I’ll see many of you in the morning.

*This is assuming that the individual’s diet and energy expenditure stays the same otherwise.

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