How many times have you been told to cut caffeine from your diet when you are trying to lose weight? Probably more times than you can count! But why are health "experts" so eager to advise you to cut out caffeine? I have NO idea! Let's explore... When it comes to weight loss, the most important idea to remember is: if you take in more calories than you burn, you'll gain weight, and if you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight. Sounds simple right? Where does caffeine fit into this picture? Caffeine is a thermogenic aid. It temporarily raises your body temperature which speeds up your metabolism, which means you burn more calories - and that's a good thing! Another plus for caffeine is the ability it gives you to exercise much harder and longer than usual. This leads to more calories burned, and can help you increase your fitness level. Coffee drinkers know how this yummy warmth lights you up and then proceeds "right through you"; with such an effect how can this stimulant get such a bad reputation?
On the down-side, caffeine can limit the absorption of some vitamins and minerals - most importantly calcium. And, sometimes, our caffeinated beverages invite indulgences we might otherwise avoid in the form of sugar, cream, whole milk, etc, leading to hundreds of hidden, empty calories! That is, calories that provide little or no nutitional value. As am example, consider a 16oz black coffee with just 10 calories before adding anything. Add your normal does of sugar and cream and that can skyrocket to 100 or 150 calories. Check out the Starbuck's nutrition guide to see how many calories you might be consuming in your innocent-looking morning pick-me-up! As another downside, caffeine has long been said to cause dehydration (although this has recently come into question). Drinking plenty of water is great for you anyway, so just be extra careful if you're a caffeine lover.
Finally, it's basically impossible to overdose on caffeine in the form of food, but if you'd like to see how many Penguin Mints or cans of Mountain Dew it would take, check out the death by caffeine calculator brought to you by the folks at energyfiend.com for some fun!
Overall, caffeine can be very beneficial to your weight loss goals. But, in the end it's your decision, so decide! Whether or not you decide caffeine is right for you, remember to do everything in moderation and to always take care of your body with plenty of healthy food, water, and sleep. Follow these simple, common-sense guidelines, and I'm confident you'll feel better and look better in no time!
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