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Monday, January 21, 2008

Is my coffee making me fat?

As I was getting ready to leave the house this morning I heard the beginning of a report on the relationship between caffeine and weight gain problems. Since I was in a hurry, I hit the off button and decided to look into it later online... at the coffee house.

So here's what I found.

According to the Mayo clinic, for most people, 200-300 mg of coffee a day aren't harmful. That's about 2 to 3 cups. As for interfering with weight maintenance:

1- Caffeine is a hunger suppressant, but it only works for a short time. So, my morning coffee will slow me down a bit, but basically it won't keep me from pigging out at lunch time. That's up to me.

2- Caffeine stimulates thermogenesis, which burns calories, but not enough to notice it on the scale.

3- Caffeine is a diuretic, but only when consumed in unhealthy amounts that will mess with me in other unpleasant ways.

OK, so far so good. Nothing has linked my lattes to expanding my rear.

According to How Stuff works, caffeine is also a bit of an impostor. To nerve cells in the brain, it looks like adenosine, but unlike adenosine, it doesn't slow the cells to down. It speeds the things up. All the commotion freaks out the pituitary gland, which interprets all the excessive neuron firing as of some sort of emergency, and causes it to release a bunch of adrenaline and trigger my fight-or-flight response.

So my morning coffee gears me up to fight a puma. Sounds good.

How about my afternoon fix? About 5 medical sites claim it takes six hours to get rid of just half the caffeine I've guzzled down.

Let's see, I go to bed circa midnight, so a cup of java--say 100 mg of caffeine--at 6pm leaves me with 50 mg of caffeine still coursing through my veins when my head hits the pillow. Hmmm. Not so good. Explains the ├╝bergrumpiness in the morning.

Lack of sleep has in fact been linked to tightening jeans and diabetes and all sorts of nasty stuff.

Conclusion:

Morning coffee good.
Sleep-depriving, butt-expanding evening coffee... bad.

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