Caffeine is one of the most popular ingredients in the world. How does it work? While it offers many benefits, caffeine can also have negative effects. This article explores the health effects of caffeine in the context of a carbohydrate-restricted diet and offers suggestions on how to consume caffeine to maximize benefits and minimize side effects.
How exactly does Caffeine Work?
Caffeine acts mainly in the brain by acting as an antagonist of adenosine receptors. Adenosine is a compound that accumulates in the brain over time, especially after strenuous mental or physical work. Once it binds to its receptor (A1 receptor), it causes feelings of relaxation and fatigue.
We often metabolize (break down) most of the adenosine that accumulates throughout the day during sleep, however, in the morning there may still be some adenosine binding that induces those feelings of tiredness. Caffeine counteracts this effect by binding to adenosine receptors and preventing their activation. Caffeine also binds to another receptor called A2A, which releases dopamine and is responsible for giving everyone a stimulating sensation.
However, most people are not consuming pure caffeine or caffeine pills, but rather drinks containing caffeine.
Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee on Keto
Besides the obvious increase in energy you get from the caffeine in coffee, coffee can offer several other health benefits.
1) Increase Fiber
Coffee contains a bit of fiber, helping to achieve your total daily fiber goal, which may be important on a ketogenic diet.
2) Reduce Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
A Swedish study found that caffeine consumption reduced the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
3) Improve Cognition and Performance
Caffeine is often used to improve athletic performance, but it can also improve cognition and performance outside of the gym.
Caffeine can help protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease because of a compound known as Trigonelline.
These are just some of the health benefits associated with coffee consumption. There are also studies that report that it can help reduce the incidence of M.S., type 2 diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and even heart disease.
The Cons of Coffee
Despite all the health benefits of coffee, there are several things that you should be aware of when brewing for yourself.
Coffee can be very dirty, and this can lead to many adverse health effects. This is especially true of unfiltered coffee, which can contain many compounds that may be harmful to your overall health.
In addition, keto dieters should be aware that the caffeine in coffee can act as a diuretic, causing frequent urination. Not only does this lead to dehydration, but it also depletes many water-soluble vitamins and minerals, including electrolytes, which are already at increased risk of being depleted on a ketogenic diet.
Coffee also interferes with the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals, which is why you should probably consume it along with other vitamins and minerals.
Obviously, the caffeine in coffee can be a problem when consumed in excess. For this reason, you should always assess your tolerance and know how much coffee is good for you.
How to Drink Coffee on Keto
Now that we know that coffee and caffeine are allowed when following a keto diet, let’s talk about the good stuff, coffee itself. The most important caveat about coffee and keto is that while coffee is keto-friendly, skim milk and sugar, which many of us may have used before, are not. So, black coffee it is. There are sugar-free sweeteners, such as xylitol and stevia, that you can use, as well as heavy cream, which is low in carbohydrates and high in fat.
A popular way to drink coffee in general, and within the keto community in particular, is a delicious, rich coffee drink called Bulletproof Coffee. Bulletproof coffee is a blend that contains MCT oil and butter. It is easy to make and falls into the low-carb, high-fat category. It is also good for those who have a hard time eating breakfast because the fat will fuel your body.
What Kind of Coffee Drinks aren’t Allowed in Keto?
The only kinds of coffee drinks that are not allowed in keto are those made with carbohydrates. Milk and sugar are big offenders when it comes to the keto diet, and most coffeehouse drinks are not allowed. For example, an 8-ounce glass of whole milk has 12 carbohydrates, 11 of which are sugars. And many cafe drinks use much more milk than 8 ounces. A medium cup of mocha, a cafe classic, contains 35 grams of sugar. All of these ingredients are filled with carbohydrates that can cause people on a keto diet to be out of ketosis.
Given what we know about caffeine and fat burning, it becomes even more obvious that drinking coffee may lead to an increase in ketone bodies. This may be another reason why ketogenic dieters experience not only a good boost of energy after drinking coffee, but also a feeling of satiety. Add in other ketogenic agents that can be added to coffee, such as MCT oil, coconut oil, or even heavy cream, and you have a ketogenic cocktail!