Tag Archive | coffee

Caffeine…things that make you go “hmmm”

As you may have gathered by now, I love coffee. I love the smell, the taste, the ritual of drinking it in the morning. I love coffee shops, getting together with friends or a date for hot cup of java. So why bother with a coffee substitute when the real thing tastes so good?

Well, there’s a lot of debate out there about whether or not coffee is healthy for you. Especially in the abundance we Americans (especially New Yorkers ;-)) drink on the daily. Processed mainly through the liver, caffeine has a relatively short half-life. This means it takes about five to seven hours, on average, to eliminate half of it from your body. So if you’re having 2 cups in the morning and one in the afternoon, that’s almost like being (at least mildly) caffeinated round the clock.

Renowned physician Dr. Mark Hyman wrote a detailed article on the ways that caffeine (cumulatively and in excess) could have a negative impact on one’s health:

  • The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones. The stress response triggers cortisol and increases insulin. Insulin increases inflammation and this makes you feel lousy.

  • Habituation to caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity, making it difficult for your cells to respond appropriately to blood sugar. High blood sugar levels lead to arterial deterioration and increased risk of mortality related to cardiovascular disease.

  • Unfiltered coffee has the highest amount of beneficial antioxidants yet also leaks the most diterpenes into your system. These diterpenes have been linked to higher levels of triglycerides, LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and VLDL levels.

  • The helpful chlorogenic acids which may delay glucose absorption in the intestine have also been shown to increase homocysteine levels- an indicator for increased risk of cardiovascular disease which tends to be elevated in diabesity.

  • The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heart burn, GERD and dysbiosis (imbalances in your gut flora).

  • Addiction is often an issue with coffee drinkers and makes it really difficult to rely on the body’s natural source of energy. Ask any coffee drinker about how it feels to withdraw from coffee, and you will mistake their story for that of a drug addict’s…

  • Associative addictions trend with coffee – who doesn’t immediately think of warm, frothy sweet cream and sugar when they picture coffee? Surely the business of coffee has inspired a culture addicted to the sugary, fatty tastes of what has become more of a meal then a drink…Enter the beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte

  • 5-HIA, an organic acid and component of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy chemical) seen in the urine tends to be elevated in coffee drinkers which means they may be at risk for lower levels of serotonin synthesis in the brain. Serotonin is necessary for normal sleep, bowel function, mood, and energy levels. It is a vicious cycle as caffeine can disrupt sleep and promote anxiety and depression.

  • Elevated urinary excretion of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium have been noted in coffee drinkers. An imbalance in your electrolyte status can lead to serious systemic complications.

  • Constituents in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver making it difficult to regulate the normal detoxification process in the liver. Another issue to be aware of with coffee intake is how certain medications such as levothyroxine (thyroid) as well as tricyclic antidepressants are poorly absorbed, making symptoms curiously worse for patients.

Now, I like a caffeine buzz as much as the next person, but I have questioned whether or not my daily coffee consumption is helpful or harmful. Especially when I’ve read information like what Dr. Hyman and other health professionals have said about too much caffeine. I don’t think caffeine is the worst thing I could put in my body, but I certainly file this information under “things that make you go hmmmm.”

So what’s a coffee-lover to do? As I mentioned, I love so much about the coffee drinking experience.  Decaf coffee is over-processed and, in my opinion, just gross; and hot tea doesn’t cut the mustard…But I’d love to find something that I could substitute even if just here and there to drink less caffeine over all.

What if there was something out there that tasted like coffee and still gave you the energy boost but without the caffeine crash and the negative effects like insulin resistance, elevated triglycerides, etc??

I know it sounds too good to be true…but I searched high and low and much to my surprise (and excitement!) I found such a product!! Stay tuned, because a writeup and review of this delightful drink will be coming very soon 🙂

Ciao for now!

-E

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Liquid Armor Coffee

The time has come for me to post the much anticipated (at least I’d like to think so) recipe for my delicious, and relatively nutritious, Liquid Armor Coffee!!  As I mentioned previously, this is my modified take on the over-hyped BulletProof ® coffee that has Paleo enthusiasts, cross fitters, and even just us regular folks who love a tasty cup of joe, going crazy and jumping on the buttered/oiled coffee bandwagon.

So, in case you haven’t come across the heavily promoted (and in my opinion, overpriced) recipe for this coffee that will, metaphorically, protect you from being pumped full of encapsulated explosives…here’s the scoop. Basically, you need to buy the coffee that that the BulletProof® head honcho endorses. It’s around $20 for a 12 oz bag because it’s organic and low in mytotoxins, which supposedly will make you feel better than any coffee you’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about paying extra for healthy foods if it’s going to make a significant difference, but to be honest, the coffee I buy for $6 to $8 at Trader Joe’s tastes great and makes me feel pretty darn good, and who’s to say what level of mytotoxins is in your average cup of coffee, particularly if you buy organic. That said, I will at least give credit to the Bulletproof site for mentioning tips to finding the highest performance coffee in your city if you don’t want to pay for the stuff they market on their site.

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Can you tell I love this place? haha

Anyway, the special, pricey beans are part of the deal…another ingredient you “need” is a special MCT oil (Medium Chain Triglycerides…just scientific jargon for healthy fats) that is supposedly 6x stronger than coconut oil.  Well, at $30 for a 32 oz bottle, it’s also about 6 times more expensive than the organic, deliciously flavorful coconut oil I get at old reliable Trader Joe’s. Coconut oil is loaded with health benefits all on its own, …so I personally don’t think it’s worth the upgrade.

And lastly, the original recipe calls for 1-2 tablespoons grass-fed, unsalted butter or ghee. I’ve tried my Liquid Armor using both options (unsalted butter & ghee) and I didn’t care for it. I prefer mine with straight up coconut oil, but you’re welcome to experiment and find what you like.

Now for the big reveal…my Liquid Armor Coffee Recipe!

What you’ll need:

1-2 Tablespoons organic coconut oil (can use 1 Tbsp coconut oil & 1 Tbsp unsalted butter or ghee, but I prefer just coconut oil)
8 oz freshly brewed coffee (use filtered water and, ideally a French Press, but I usually just use a regular drip coffee pot and mine tastes delicious)
Blender (I use NutriBullet)

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I always use this coconut oil, and this is one of my favorites of Trader Joe’s coffee.

The instructions are very simple:

1. Brew coffee and add to blender (yes, while hot)
2. Plop in coconut oil (and, if you would like to try it, unsalted butter or ghee)*

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Steps 1 + 2…. I know what you’re thinking…Oil? In my coffee??? But what about my milk? creamer? How will I get it the right caramel-y color??

3. Blend 20-30 seconds until frothy.
Just a tip that with the NutriBullet, sometimes the cap feels stuck after you turn it over. I think it’s a combo of heat and pressure buildup while blending. I find that turning the blender over (lid facing up) and letting it set for 30    seconds or so before opening usually does the trick!

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It will turn a lovely, creamy caramel color…and check out that foam!! 🙂 ❤

4. Pour into your favorite mug/to-go cup and enjoy an awesome tasting cup of coffee with latte-like foam that will make you feel satisfied, focused, and energized 🙂

And there you have it!

Trust me, I was skeptical myself…but now that I’ve made it, I’m hooked. It’s so delicious, natural, and satisfying, but you’ll never know unless you try it. Don’t worry, you can always go back to using the Almond Milk Creamer you just made from my recipe, but this offers a decadent and healthy variation 😉  *You can also add in some cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or sugar (I like brown or coconut sugar), but try it first as is because it’s so yummy, you probably won’t even want to mess with it.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your blender, give it a whirl, and let me know what you think!

Ciao for now,

-E

Hittin’ Records Baby, Yeah!

As I write this I’m on a massive adrenaline rush from 1. Not enough sleep 2. The Grande Starbucks coffee I had before the gym and 3. Hitting some sweet personal records at the gym today.

I took a rest day yesterday and ended up staying up way too late talking and texting some friends while drinking some red wine (some well-deserved red wine I might add), so when my alarm went off at 5:15 this morning, I wanted to cry. I must confess that I shut my alarm off and set a new one for 7:15 when I’d have to start getting ready for work…and then I laid in bed. At this point I began a mental battle with myself that went something like this:

Emily, you didn’t go to the gym yesterday, so get your butt in gear. But maybe I could squeeze in a gym sesh after work and before my 7:30 meeting tonight with a client. Yeah right, you’re not going to have time, plus by then you’re not gonna feel like going, so get your booty out of this bed right now missy! Uhhh but I don’t waaaannnnna…my bed is warm and I’m tiiiiirrrreeeedddd. Oh stop it you little nancy…you can go to bed early tonight, and you know you’ll feel better after you go. You have a point there…but I’m still tireddddd. If you get up right this minute you can stop at Starbucks on the way and grab a coffee. Okay, deal. I’m getting up!

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Haha this little convo lasted about 15 minutes, so I was out the door at 5:40 and at the gym by 5:50, coffee in hand. When I saw all the other diehards that got their butts out of bed early too, I was glad I’d done the same.

After 30 minutes on the elliptical (incline 9/ resistance 9), I went over do a circuit of seated leg extensions and curls. I alternate sets on the two machines, going back and forth on them until I do 3 or 4 sets of each. It’s kind of being a machine hog, but at 6:30am I can get away with it.

In the past, the most I’d ever attempted was 70 lbs on both, so today, my sets went:

15 reps @ 55 lbs
15 reps @ 70 lbs
15 reps @ 80 lbs
5 reps @ 90 lbs

Awesomeness!

From there I went over to the standing glute kickback machine. On Saturday I was able to do clear 2 reps on each leg at 120 lbs, so today I was aiming for a little more. I alternate legs so each set includes x number of reps on the right leg followed by the same number of reps on the left leg. My sets went:

15 reps @ 75 lbs
15 reps @ 90 lbs
10 reps @ 115 lbs
5 reps @ 130 lbs

Wheeeeee!

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Next, I marched upstairs to do some deadlifts (which sometimes I do with back, but sometimes with legs, depending on how I feel). In the past, I’d always done them with dumbbells and the most weight I’ve ever used is 50 lbs, but I wanted to graduate to using a bar. Since I was on a friggin’ endorphin and caffeine rush at this point, I decided to start with a weight that would be challenging but realistic (I didn’t want to start lifting like a nut and hurt myself of course)…so here’s how the sets went:

15 reps @ 70 lbs
15 reps @ 80 lbs
15 reps @ 90 lbs

At this point I was coming out of my skin with excitement because I found these challenging, but not as much as I thought. There were a couple of guys doing biceps and shoulders near me and as I was basking in my glory one of them says to me: “Wow, you’re pretty strong! Not like ‘for a girl’ either…like just STRONG!” That felt awesome to hear! And I told them both that before today, I’d only used 50 lb dumbbells and wanted to see what I could lift if I actually pushed myself. I told them I just wanted to see if I could do at least 1 rep at 100 lbs (cuz at this point I was feeling a little fatigued and didn’t want to overdo it) and they were cheering me on like “Yeah, you can do it!!” So I picked up the 100 lb bar and to my surprise, I knocked out:

5 reps @ 100 lbs!

This isn’t actually THAT much, in terms of weight lifting strength standards (according to ExRx.net, an untrained woman of my weight should be able to do 70 lbs, a novice – 130 lbs, and intermediate – 150 lbs)…And by definition: Untrained = An individual who has not trained on the exercises before but can perform them correctly.  Novice= An individual who has trained regularly for up to several monthsIntermediate = An individual who has trained regularly for up to a couple years.  But considering that I’m relatively new to strength training (about a month), I’m happy to be halfway to novice…plus now I have some higher goals for the next month!

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I  practically skipped over to the mat to finish up with some kettlebell swings (which I’ve only recently started doing, but love them for the combo cardio/strength training they provide):

15 reps @ 20 lbs
15 reps @ 20 lbs
15 reps @ 25 lbs

At this point I was both high on endorphins and fatigued like I’d just been in a competition (which I was, with myself! And I think I won! Haha). Before I left the gym I scribbled down my numbers on the back of a class schedule sheet because I knew I wanted to write a post about it and share it with you all!

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I’m amazed at how much more I can do and how much better I feel when I focus on strength and setting goals around health and getting stronger rather than on losing or maintaining weight. And if these posts and inspire even a single one of you to push yourself just a little harder, get out of bed a little earlier to make your health a priority, or to just set some new goals for yourself (in or out of the gym), then that makes me feel awesome 🙂

Time for a second cup of coffee 😉

When I need to push myself, I think of all those nicely polished trophies waiting to be lifted up by the winner – and how that winner might be me. -Maria Sharapova

Ciao for now!

-E