I had a lovely customer come in to the shop the other day who was asking me about weight loss products - now, he was holding two takeaway coffees at the time, which I thought of as interesting but not really noteworthy. We got chatting (as I do!) and found out that he had just been to see a dietician about losing weight. Now, initially he asked to buy a pre-biotic supplement, which I was happy to help with as pre-biotics are excellent for encouraging growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut (eg. inulin or slippery elm).
The next piece of information he offered truly sent my mouth open to the floor. The dietician had recommended that he starts drinking SIX coffees a day. Yep, six. After the initial (wtf) in my head, I asked why? "Well," he said, "because it's an appetite suppressant and helps to stimulate the metabolism." Both of these are true, but I had to be curious about HOW this gentleman was going to maintain this new level of caffeine intake (now understanding why he had TWO take-way coffee cups in his hands).
I am not someone who actively goes about disrespecting another professionals health advice, but I did need to make this customer aware of the potential side effects of high coffee consumption.
Caffeine is a psychoactive drug and stimulates the adrenals to release cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline from the adrenal glands. This is what gives you the great boost, but can also over-stimulate you leaving you feeling irritable and angry as you are in the "flight or fight" mode, rather than the "rest and digest" mode. Sleeping issues are also common with excessive caffeine intake - (this can be a whole other blog post altogether...)
When cortisol is activated, it does speed up your carbohydrate and fat metabolism, but blood sugar levels are also increased, leading to potential hunger pangs (and eating not so great food). Drinking coffee is a stress on your body with leads to increased cortisol levels over a period of time. Chronically increased cortisol levels can lead to raised blood pressure, diabetes, lowered immunity and weight gain.
So as the customer left the shop with pre-biotics in hand, I made sure that he check in with his dietician about whether the benefits outweigh the risks with high caffeine consumption. From a holistic perspective, consuming six cups of coffee per day would be detrimental on most people's systems. Losing weight shouldn't be about punishing your body or creating further health problems. My perspective on weight loss is from the Health At Every Size framework which puts HEALTH as the number one objective.... but this is a subject for another post.... I am just off to drink my cup of herbal tea now! 😉