How to Get the Most out of Coffee

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The drink of intellect, precision, and calm, coffee is a warm and comforting drink for many people. Is it part of your morning routine? Your personality? Do you love coffee as much as you love taking a nice warm shower?

Last week, we learned all about the surprising scientific health benefits (and some drawbacks) of coffee in our article Is Coffee Good for You? Here are 7 Things the Science Says. This week, we’ll learn steps you can take to get the most from your coffee while avoiding the harmful effects.

As our health science article pointed out, the main disadvantages of coffee centered around potential overconsumption. It helps to know how much caffeine is in the drink you are containing and how many cups you consume a day.

The benefits that were listed assume, too, that you drink straight black coffee. The reality is, though, that many people enjoy creamers, milk, and/or sugar in their cups. These condiments add calories and so are important to be aware of. There is a big difference between a small cup of coffee with a teaspoon of creamer and a large one with all the add-ons from your favorite coffee shop.

If you simply like the taste of coffee, don’t feel you need to cut back, and don’t mind the extra calories, then keep enjoying to your heart’s content.


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Tips to Reduce Added calories

If the added calories of milk or refined sugar is a concern, or if you are sensitive or allergic to dairy products, try these tips.

1.   Some people can drink straight black coffee and not have to worry about milk and sugar to begin with.

2.   If you cannot imagine drinking coffee without anything in it, use alternate milk and creamers. Try plant-based milks (oat, almond, soy, etc.) and coconut cream.

3.   As for sugar alternatives, try adding cinnamon, cardamom pods, or even honey.


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Tips to Reduce Caffeine Intake

If you feel you're consuming too much caffeine, on the other hand, and would like to cut back, here are some tips:

1.   Know your body. Some people feel fine quitting coffee cold turkey. They feel immediate benefits like having better sleep. Others experience withdrawals if trying to immediately give up coffee. Headaches, cravings, and lack of energy are common.

2.   Try transitions. Having decaf for a month, then next month choosing black tea, then the month after swapping tea for hot chocolate are all steps to consider.

3.   Try slow transitions. If changing from caffeinated to decaf coffee or from coffee to tea are too abrupt, you may decide to pick one day a week to have decaf or an herbal tea instead of coffee, then continue your journey from there. Or, more slowly, try buying both regular and decaf coffee. Then mix them in proportions like 3/4 regular to 1/4 decaf for a day or week, then 1/2 to 1/2, then 1/4 to 3/4, until finally you are fine drinking just decaf. The same approach can be used for phasing out coffee to tea.

4.   Replace what you consume for energy. If fatigue alone is the issue, try having nutrient dense breakfasts with matcha in tea or shakes, for instance.

Each of these steps depends on your specific body. You can start by making habits out of just one thing you think will be easy for you, then periodically add another and another, until you are happy with where you find yourself on your coffee journey. If you take these things into account, you can still enjoy around 2-3 (250mg-400mg) cups of coffee a day and reap the benefits of coffee while decreasing the chances of harm.