Coffee is your friend—it wakes you up when you’re feeling groggy and sluggish, it tastes great (who can argue with that?), and it can fuel your performance in the weight or cardio room from that much-needed caffeine boost.
Yet, there are ways to maximize those coffee benefits simply by altering the way you enjoy it and by avoiding any mistakes that can turn your glorious cup of java into a calorie and sugar bomb or a stimulant that messes with your sleep schedule. Here are a few tips to keep in mind that will allow you to make the most of your coffee intake and not have any negative side effects that can come from regularly drinking it in the day.
Keep it Plain and Simple
Instead of whipping up a frothy caramel cappuccino with a couple pumps of sugary syrup and caramel drizzle or giving into the PSL craze this fall with a sweet, high-fat latte that could pass as dessert instead of a cup of pure, rich coffee, make your coffee order plain and low in calories, sugar, and fat.
That means, keep it black with a bit of milk and stevia, if desired. Stevia won’t alter blood sugar levels, and it’s calorie free. As for milk, swap half-and-half or cream for a nice dairy-free option, like oat or soy, or for a bit of plain cow’s milk. Don’t add in the sugar, sweet syrups, drizzles, and dessert like toppings, like cocoa nibs or brownies. This way, you get the caffeine perks and great flavor without turning that morning drink into a dessert.
Drink it at the Best Times of the Day
You can wake up and grab a coffee first thing, but your body is actually best able to get the benefits when cortisol is a tad lower. It is spiked upon first waking, like before 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m., so wait a bit while getting ready for work and have that first cup between 9:30 a.m. and noon, or so.
Plus, don’t drink coffee too late in the day if you’re sensitive to the caffeine, as it can keep you up at night. Give yourself a cut-off for what your body needs in the afternoon to lower stimulation as the day progresses.
You can also have coffee before a workout to boost the metabolism and create more alertness in the body. This can better your performance and make it easier to torch calories and give the workouts your full effort! Just don’t have it right before if you tend to have GI discomfort, since coffee can be a laxative and affect some people more heavily than others.
Enjoy it In Different Ways
Don’t limit yourself to just coffee in a cup—you can use coffee beans or cold brew in a variety of ways. You can add coffee to smoothies and workout shakes for that stimulating benefit and delicious flavor to complement other notes, like vanilla or chocolate, for example.
Plus, you can use coffee as a marinade, rub or sauce for a meat dish, like beef or brisket. Coffee can go well in protein or energy balls and bites and other desserts too, like coffee and chocolate mousse, pudding, or cookies. So have some fun experimenting in the kitchen!