For many of us, coffee is as much a part of the daily routine as eating and breathing: A cup (or three) in the morning, another in the afternoon, perhaps occasionally after dinner, and so on. But is it possible you’re missing out on some of coffee’s hidden benefits by not enjoying a cup of joe during other parts of your day?
Here are three surprising ways coffee can add value to your day-to-day. We’ll drink to that.
Drink Coffee Before and After Exercise
Turns out, there are good reasons for grabbing a cup of joe before you hit the gym...and after as well. It all has to do with coffee’s fascinating, if protective relationship with glycogen, the body’s primary fuel source during exercise.
When you drink a cup of coffee before your workout, the java helps your body burn fat cells instead of glycogen. Moreover, many of the well-known effects of coffee and caffeine can be powerful aids at the gym - improved focus, higher levels of alertness, etc.
But coffee’s benefits as a workout supplement don’t end after your last set. According to the American Physiological Society (APS), coffee is shown to be an effective tool in helping muscles recover after an intense workout, when consumed with carbohydrates. The reason is that caffeine helps the body absorb carbs more quickly, and those carbs help the body replenish the supply of - you guessed it - glycogen. In an APS study, about two-thirds of participants who consumed coffee and carbs after a workout had more glycogen in their muscles four hours after. So you may want to trade out that protein shake, bro.
Drink Coffee After Drinking
It’s a rare and wonderful feeling when you learn you’re accidentally doing more good for yourself than you know. For years, people have reached for coffee as a quick palliative for a night of over-indulgence, seeking to shake off the near-term effects of their revelry and become more awake and alert. But now there’s evidence of longer-term benefits.
A decade-long Finnish study found that coffee reduces levels of an enzyme called GGT, a byproduct of alcohol consumption that can cause liver damage. In the study, people who regularly consumed alcohol and coffee had 50 percent lower levels of GGT. The results were especially noticeable in men.
Of course, the study is quick to point out that it’s best to limit over-consumption of alcohol in the first place; coffee is helpful, but not a license to go mad. Still, it’s nice to know your morning-after cup of coffee can help you through more than just the morning after.
Drink Coffee in Mid-Morning and Mid-Afternoon
Hope you’re sitting down. Seems that always hitting the percolator first thing in the morning may not be the best way for your body to reap the caffeinated benefits of the mud.
Under normal conditions, the body produces a hormone called cortisol to help you wake up. Naturally, it produces more of this in the early morning, and less at night. Which means usually, caffeine in the early morning interferes with your body’s natural mechanism designed to wake you up. Over time, your body can learn to rely on the caffeine jolt rather than its natural chemical, which is how caffeine tolerance is built.
So when should you drink coffee, if you’re in it purely for maximum buzz? Turns out, your brain can use the caffeine most effectively between 10 a.m. and noon, and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
But let’s be real, drinking coffee purely for the caffeine is a little like eating a filet mignon purely for the protein. Good coffee is an experience for all the senses, not something you could or should just bottle up in a pill.
There you have it: reasons to pour some ink more often during your day. And we haven’t even covered some of the surprising health benefits - lowering risk of type 2 diabetes, fighting Alzheimer’s, to name just a couple.
Ah, coffee. Is there anything it can’t do?