Three quarters of Australians drink at least one cup of coffee per day, and 28% of those drink at least three cups per day.

So, is coffee good for you and how much coffee can you drink? To answer the important coffee questions, we caught up with Precision Athletica and NSW Waratahs Head of Nutrition – Kelsey Hutton.

The first thing to note, when it comes to coffee, it’s the caffeine content of coffee that we’re mostly looking at, when asking the question, how much coffee is good for you.

What is caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant which can make you feel more alert and focused. Caffeine binds with a chemical called adenosine, which is a chemical that normally builds up in the body across the day and is part of what helps the body to prepare for sleep. By binding with adenosine, the signals don’t get through, helping us feel more awake.

Caffeine stimulates our nervous system. In terms of sporting performance, caffeine reduces the perception of fatigue and effort, meaning you can compete at higher intensity for longer. The current recommendations for caffeine intake before competition is 3-5mg caffeine/kg body weight, dependent on individual tolerance and any observed side effects, however coffee can be really variable in its caffeine intake so there is no set recommendation of how many cups of coffee prior to competing is a good amount.

Does it prevent diseases?

Coffee contains some antioxidant compounds which could be linked with various health benefits. Research into the intake of coffee and prevention in disease has shown some promising results, but it’s still inconclusive.

We know in the diet there isn’t one single nutrient or food that will prevent disease and keep us healthy, it’s more so a combination of all the nutrients that make up a healthy diet.

So far, there has been research looking into whether coffee intake is linked with reduced risk of heart disease, lowered risk of developing diabetes, and prevention of Alzheimers, but most are inconclusive and need more long-term research to establish a clear link.

What we do know is that right now it’s probably not necessary to start drinking coffee or increase your coffee intake to try to reduce disease risk, as we can’t confirm whether this will actually help. Similarly, it’s also likely okay to continue drinking coffee if you are a coffee drinker as this likely won’t affect your health (unless consumed in excess). Instead focus on a variety of nutrients in the diet and sticking to a safe, moderate amount of coffee for you.

What are the side effects of drinking coffee?

Everyone will react differently to the caffeine in coffee. Caffeine has the effect of reducing perception of effort and fatigue, which can help to boost performance in sport. Too much however can cause:

  • Shakiness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea

All of which would have a negative impact on sporting performance. Some may also experience gastrointestinal upset if consuming caffeine too close to exercise or with too high a dose of caffeine prior to performance.

When it comes to coffee, outside of the effects of caffeine, the addition of sugars, syrups or the type of milk added may have an impact on the nutritional profile. For example, having sugar in coffee everyday can add up to excess energy intake, so be mindful of what you’re adding into your cup of coffee as well.

How much can we drink?

How many cups of coffee we can drink each day is really dependent on the person and individual tolerance. Most research indicates that up to 3 cups of coffee per day is a safe amount for most people to drink. If you’re drinking an amount of coffee that’s causing known negative side effects such as sleep disruption, then it’s probably a good idea to try to reduce your intake.

Pregnant women and children should avoid coffee due to the caffeine which is not metabolised well in younger bodies. Those with high blood pressure may also need to consider reducing their coffee intake. Excess amounts of caffeine can also be really detrimental.

Sports Nutrition at Precision Athletica

Having an effective plan when it comes to nutrition is vital for athletes, so at Precision Athletica in Sydney, we encourage all of our athletes to work with our Sports Dietitian to create tailored and individual meal and supplement plans.

If you are training your hardest and not paying attention to your diet, you could miss out on valuable performance gains.
If you’d like more information on either safe coffee consumption, or sports nutrition for performance, contact our resident Sports Dietitian – Kelsey Hutton. You can either call us on 02 9764 5787 to book an appointment, or email her directly any specific questions: Kelsey.h@precisionathletica.com.au

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