Coffee – Coffee Drinking & Weight Loss – Friend or Foe?

By Nancy Andrews

Can you drink coffee when on the P90X program?

Oct 6th, 2010 | By Nancy Andrews | Category: Nutrition & Weight Loss, P90X FAQ

I recently saw someone on Facebook ‘dis’ coffee as though it was the devil’s brew.  Now maybe it was because I happened to be sipping on a steaming mug of joe or just because I felt that a fair and balanced opinion was the right thing to do but I took her on.

This person’s point was that coffee was bad because it raised cortisol and cortisol would cause you to store fat.  Now the first thing that bothered me was that the ‘facts’ were incorrect.  Let’s deal by reviewing what cortisol is.   Cortisol is a necessary stress hormone designed to help you cope with danger by releasing amino acids from the muscles, glucose from the liver, and fatty acids into the blood stream to produce a tremendous amount of energy. By the way, releasing fatty acids into your blood stream means you are burning fat, not storing it!

The issue is when cortisol is manufactured or elevated due to stimulants (coffee) or, more importantly is cronically elevated as is the case with high stress lifestyles. Elevated stress hormones puts the body in a catabolic state where there is ongoing tissue destruction, muscle loss, bone loss, and immune system depression. Obviously this is not good. If your endocrine system (pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands) are not functioning well, the glucose that can be released into your blood stream will elevate your blood sugar levels enough to cause your body to produce insulin which is likely to cause fat storage to increase. It is theoretically possible with too much cortisol to have your muscles robbed to store fat!

Moreover, there seems to be some causal evidence to suggest that elevated cortisol levels may lead you with a desire to eat sweats.

So we need cortisol but we don’t want too much of it or suffer from chronically elevated levels of it. If you have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to consider keeping any coffee drinking to a minimum. But if you are well balanced, the stimulative effects of coffee have been shown to produce many positive effects including increased alertness and the ability to burn more fat during exercise.

And, just to put this in perspective, exercise produces cortisol but we don’t say that exercise is bad for you! I do warn my clients about excessive exercise (more is not better) but we need exercise to build muscle and stay lean.

So if you enjoy a cup of coffee during the day, continue. Work on the other causes of stress in your life and you’ll be fine.

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  1. Week 8 – did nothing to adjust my diet which I would rate as a 7 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being following the plan. I feel more toned in the muscles, can complete each days workout and others say they can see a difference. I see medium changes in the legs and arms, but little to no change in the mid section where I REALLY need it. I was not overweight to begin with, but very gooey all over and have that belly midsection of a women of 46 with three kids. So – can I keep going as I am – totally commitment to the workouts with an OK diet and will I eventually get rid of all this mid-section fat OR do I need to do the diet change/supplements to see any further changes. BTW – when week 12 is up…what do I do next?

  2. Hi Rosie,

    I think you know what the answer is because you offered it up. If you are really bringing your best to the workouts and your midsection is not budging then it’s your diet. I have no idea what rating yourself a ’7′ out of 10 on following a diet really means and I don’t want to. In my way of thinking that’s like saying if I lift a weight only part way up, it should bring me great results – which isn’t going to happen. So decide what you really want. A great bod or the ability to go off diet when you want – you can’t have both. BTW, if you’ve not yet ditched all items that contain processed grains (flour of any sort) with sugar (any kind) and/or vegetable oil, you need to immediately if you want to start to see some progress with your stomach.

    As far as what’s next? That depends on you. Some people just start over with another round and others do a different program or do a P90X hybrid program. Those who see the great changes approach this as a lifestyle change, not a 90 day program they have to get through. P90X is designed to bring about great change if done properly but the magic in the formula is you!

    Nancy

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