By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
January 28, 2016
Some time last year, I made the rather ridiculous resolution that I would greatly reduce my coffee drinking. You see, at the time, it was a pretty logical idea at the time. Being something of a conspiracy theorist, I believed for a short while that coffee would eventually become nonexistent, an old luxury that the self destructive human race would inadvertently destroy in its all-out quest to ruin plant Earth. With the world temperature rising near the equator, it is becoming increasingly more and more difficult to grow coffee. Some fatalists believe that coffee and chocolate may become extinct in the next thirty years due to the fact the weather is just making it too difficult to grow these two crops. Either that will happen or you will have to start paying for five-dollar Hershey bars and Starbucks will just stick to the beer sales and dump coffee for the sack of saving money (or just continue gouging you on a regular basis). Now of course, this was a convenient way to try and limit my consumption, which really had a more health theme tied into it. I was having all sorts of teeth sensitivity issues, making the daily brushing routine difficult for me. It’s hard to explain the weird sensations I was getting from those moments, brushing over a weird sweet spot that would send a chill down my spine and make me weary of brushing over that very same spot again. I developed this problem over a long time, for I had really definitive love for all candies sour back when I worked at a movie theater at the turn of the century (love saying that…turn of the century. Might as well take advantage of that adage). Anyway, the best perk (and maybe the only) was the fact I was in charge of the loose candy. Basically I would taste test all the candy before I put them out, knowing how fresh the candy was before it went into display. The fresher it was, the more sour it tasted. So you can imagine me going home with almost 20 bucks worth of fresh, awesome sour candy that wasn’t sold in stores and hadn’t been touched and played with by dirty little kids. Well, the issue back in those days was the fact I never brushed my teeth after eating all of this junk, and the sour particles would rest on my teeth for hours on end before I brushed for the end of the night.
Anyway, I really believed the coffee was aggravating all of these old sweet tooth issues. I embarked on a little journey to try and give up coffee, and I was really making some good progress on my culinary withholding. You see, I was drinking exorbitant amounts, so much so that a coffee addicted friend of mine wondered how in the world I wasn’t “pooping like a racehorse.” I told her I must be one of the chosen few that can handle the coffee without making frequent visits to the restroom (my friend is so addicted, she would nurse a coffee for hours just so she wouldn’t waste it!). Well, the tooth problems really didn’t go away even with the reduction. It eventually became less a problem when I found a good toothpaste that helped protect and rebuild enamel. I did some oil pulling for my teeth from time to time as well, but I have not been doing that much lately (as in the last five months). At one point though, I was drinking a cup of coffee every three days, but that was before I started working my current job and having to get up at four a.m. on a regular basis. I was kind of forced into being a morning person, and thus, my coffee habit was reborn and turned into an every day issue for me. At one point, I retained my old habit when I finally started to see the light. I would drink a 24-ounce of coffee and then follow that up with a Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte at Starbucks. Fortunately, some sense was finally kicked into my head when I decided six bucks was a bit exorbitant for any drink, especially since Starbucks has a real hate for all the vegans out there!
Personally, I have found a pretty good balance with coffee. It helps me wake up and get myself into a rhythm when I go to my work out. Going in at nine a.m. is still kind of weird for me, and I often times need a little pick-me-up. I’ve also started donating plasma again, and when I do it in the morning, my pulse is pretty darn low (turns out being in shape really keeps my resting pulse very low, which is a bad thing in the plasma donation world). Anyway, without that cup of joe, I wouldn’t be as calm as I need to be. Anyway, last year, I wrote about the power of caffeine and how it can do a body good in regards to your fitness goals. http://blog.parsonstrainingtucson.com/2015/04/caffeine-glorious-caffeine.html You see, a lot of people take some of the more synthetic stuff, like Advocare and Herbalife to get their “pre-workout” on. For me, I would rather stick to the brown liquid, especially since the stuff can work the same way according to a lot of research. Of course, the research indicated you shouldn’t be tapping back that 64-ounce coffee before you start ripping out some bench presses (and yes, when I worked at the Circle K many years ago, there was a guy who came in and got a 64-ounce coffee refill. He gladly payed the $1.07, which was the refill price at the time…of course, he was the most unhealthy looking person I have ever seen in my life). Anyway, much like my fascination with alcohol related research, some new coffee research may be turning the industry on its head once again.
Now, we all know the myth that too much “joe” might turn us into a jittery, unhealthy mess. Heck, Mad TV based an entire character sketch on this phenomenon, where the main character would spend the skit talking almost nonstop and constantly moving (watching those skits made me tired!). Research conducted by the University of California-San Francisco has concluded that caffeine may not be the boogey man we continuously think it to be, by proxy meaning another victory for my guilty pleasure. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/heart-health/caffeine-doesn-t-give-you-heart-palpitations-study-finds-n504741 Now for the moment, the study only utilized natural caffeine sources, like coffee, tea and chocolate (I’m sure some people are swooning right now!), so don’t be thinking that can of Jolt or Monster of Four Loko is good for you. The new study wanted to truly see if consuming highly caffeinated products would cause the heart palpitations and “heart skips” that so many of us assume would happen. The study utilized almost 1,400 subjects, with a whopping average age of 72 to conduct this research. Due to the average age of the subjects, this test seemed perfect for failure, proving once and for all that caffeine can certainly mess us up as we advance in age. Well, the doctors leading the research concluded the associated heart issues were not due to the consumption of high caffeine products, but due to the fact many of the patients may have already been suffering from various heart issues (a common problem with some people that might not have taken care of themselves as well as they should have).
Now like I already stated, this study had nothing to do with energy drinks and such, which is a whole barrel of monkeys you don’t even want to get into. Trust me, as a respected self appointed tester of energy drinks (as well as heavy consumer), I could tell you drinking two or three of those bad boys a day is not something you want to do. The aforementioned research did indicate suggested limits to your drinking habits, like not going more than five cups a day and keeping younger kids from consuming highly caffeinated products. Regardless of these limitations, you are going run into idiots like myself that will continue to abuse that problem. On many days, especially when I go to hang out with my retired parents in the mornings, I drink WAY TOO MUCH coffee for one person. I could probably drown a whole pot of coffee if given the chance. Of course, I only do this once a week or so, mainly because I’m sure my parents would start forcing me to bring in coffee beans every week to offset the damage I do (the bagels I bring in are not worth the amount I would potentially drink). And trust me, I would probably go crazy since I am kind of addicted to the local coffee scene here in my home town, buying up Savaya, Raging Sage, Yellow Brick and now Ritual Coffee, which is being roasted by Sparkroot. Like always, I take some of this stuff with a grain of salt, merely because you have to accept limitations on the obvious. There have been many days where I have had a respectable amount of coffee to drink, and I would turn into a jittery mess that would start wondering why the world was spinning so fast. And then the subsequent crash would be brutal, for my little pups would be begging for a walk and I would be all “You got to be kidding me!” The worst part about these days is it would severely affect my running, for I would feel dehydrated mid run and stop due to the awful feeling in my head (which happened to me lat week).
Now I do wish the researchers had done some more work on the other big caffeine additive, better known as Guarana. For those that don’t know, it is a plant from Brazil that is injected in several drinks to give a much bigger boost. It’s basically what real caffeine freaks will get behind when they realize that coffee is not doing it for you anymore. Right now, it is not as dangerous as some people think it is when it is being consumed in energy drinks, primarily because these drinks also boast a resectable amount of taurine, an amino acid naturally made by the body but is is easy to synthesize. Taurine somewhat counteracts the effects of caffeine, thus balancing out the equation (somewhat). Hopefully in the future, we see a little more insight into this particular additive which is primarily used throughout South America but rarely used beyond energy drinks here in the states. One interesting side note about Guarana is the fact it may help with weight loss, mainly because it tricks the brain into thinking the body is fuller than it should be (but this is all conjecture of course.
So there you have it, another reason to not really hate caffeine, and in regards this blog post…coffee. I’ve already pointed out that it can help the liver and help the fitness freak inside of you. Now it seems some of the old assumptions about the power of caffeine is being challenged just about every day, just remember it still can be addictive. Too much a good thing is still too much. Much like my friend that can’t seem to stop eating vegan nachos (I really hope she reads this!), drinking too much coffee can lead to various health problems with your esophagus and of course your bone density duet the caffeine. Just try not to be like me from back in the day, where 40 ounces of coffee a day became rather crazy and expensive. Be like me of today, where 20 ounces seems like too much!
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
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