There’s been a ton of buzz recently talking about “the coffee diet,” so we wanted to get down to the what’s what when it comes to coffee. Is coffee actually good for you? According to Jaclyn London, R.D., New York State Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN) and Nutrition Director at Good Housekeeping, there’s a whole host of research that supports the health benefits of coffee.
“The USDA/DHHS recommends 300-400mg. of caffeine per day, which is about three to four 8oz. cups, or one Starbucks Venti,” explains London. “Long-term benefits included reduced risk of chronic disease, including heart-disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and lifestyle-related cancers.” But guess what? Short-term benefits are plentiful, too. “Coffee boosts cognition and improves exercise performance, making a cup of jo ideal for everyone from pro athletes to regular gym-goers.
Another bonus: London points out that coffee is also great because it comes from a plant, making it the ultimate superfood. “Plants contain polyphenolic compounds which have antioxidant functions and benefits, meaning they protect your body’s cells from damage. That aspect, combined with the fact that caffeine itself is associated with reduced risk of chronic disease, makes coffee a total win.”
But when it comes to metabolic benefits, don’t listen to that noise. “Yes, it’s true that caffeinated beverages can help you lose weight due to mild appetite suppression and increased energy during exercise performance,” London explains. However, combining coffee drinking with hot baths and temperature changes like in the popular “coffee diet” won’t get the job done. Any benefit that you could reap from scenarios like that will be temporary, so you can’t expect to yield a long-term metabolism boost.”
Finally, it’s important to pay attention to what you put in your coffee. According to London, the biggest issue she experiences with clients who drink coffee isn’t the act of drinking coffee itself, but instead, what they put in it. “The added sugar and saturated fat-laden beverages drizzled in caramel or chocolate, can be the biggest diet de-railers and offset the “good” you’re doing by drinking the coffee to begin with.” London recommends opting for a 16oz. skim or (unsweetened) soy based latte with your morning meal, which will provide up to 13g. of protein to help curb hunger pains throughout the morning.