Three quarters of Australians drink at least one cup of coffee per day, and 28% of those drink at least three cups per day.
So, is coffee good for you and how much coffee can you drink?
To answer some important coffee questions, Precision Athletica and NSW Waratahs Head of Nutrition, Kelsey Hutton, shares her knowledge with us. Because who doesn’t enjoy a coffee or two?
The first thing to note when it comes to coffee is it’s the caffeine content of coffee that we’re mostly looking at when asking the question – how much coffee is good for you?
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant which can make you feel more alert and focused. Caffeine binds with a chemical called adenosine, which is a chemical that normally builds up in the body across the day and is part of what helps the body to prepare for sleep. By binding with adenosine, the signals don’t get through, helping us feel more awake.
Caffeine stimulates our nervous system. In terms of sporting performance, caffeine reduces the perception of fatigue and effort, meaning you can compete at higher intensity for longer. As coffee can be really variable in its caffeine intake, there is no set recommendation of how many cups of coffee prior to competing is a good amount.
What are the side effects of drinking coffee?
Everyone reacts differently to the caffeine in coffee. Too much can cause shakiness, difficulty sleeping and nausea, all of which would have a negative impact on sporting performance.
Some may also experience gastrointestinal upset if consuming caffeine too close to exercise or with too high a dose of caffeine prior to performance.
When it comes to coffee, outside of the effects of caffeine, the addition of sugars, syrups or the type of milk added may have an impact on the nutritional profile. For example, having sugar in coffee everyday can add up to excess energy intake, so be mindful of what you’re adding into your cup of coffee as well.
How much can we drink?
How many cups of coffee we can drink each day is dependent on the person and individual tolerance. Most research indicates that up to 3 cups of coffee per day is a safe amount for most people to drink.
If you’re drinking an amount of coffee that’s causing known negative side effects such as sleep disruption, then it’s probably a good idea to try to reduce your intake.
Pregnant women and children should avoid coffee due to the caffeine which is not metabolised well in younger bodies. Those with high blood pressure may also need to consider reducing their coffee intake. Excess amounts of caffeine can also be really detrimental.