Is it okay to drink coffee before a workout or run?

As I sit here drinking instant coffee (yes. instant. a travesty.) I was wondering whether I should be drinking coffee before a workout, after a workout or at all. Let’s be serious, there’s probably no way I’d ever give up coffee (it would be disastrous for everyone around me.) That is to say, unless a study comes out showing me definitively that coffee will give me a third eye, tail or something weird. And in any case, I may even take those consequences gladly if it means I can enjoy my daily cuppa joe.

I love a good cup of coffee. From Cappucino and latte to espresso. I like beans from Columbia, Hawaii and Peru (just to name a few.) Enjoy my Keurig and relish using my French press. For those of us coffee fiends, there is some good news: no impact, positive or negative, on cancer development. YAHOO! When was the last time you heard such a thing?

Other studies suggest that coffee consumption reduces the risk of being affected by Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s,heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver and gout. Further, a longitudinal study from 2009 showed that those who enjoyed 2-3 cups of tea/coffee per day (mid-life) were less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s. (This is compared to those who drank little or none.)

But with the good, comes the bad. Coffee can increase the risk of acid reflux, headaches, lead to iron deficiency anemia and of course can cause sleep disturbances.

So back to the purpose of this post: is coffee okay to drink before a workout or run?

  • Well, coffee before a workout can potentially increase weight loss (thank goodness.) The caffeine in a cup of coffee can speed up your metabolism, providing a burst of energy to help you with your workout (perhaps helping you push harder at higher intensity.)
  • Caffeine can trigger muscles to use fat as an energy source, rather than carbs (affects are short-lived and vary)
  • Caffeine has been found to enhance athletes performance during endurance activities and boosts stamina

These are all great things. But with the good comes the bad. Again.

  • If you have a cardiovascular condition, having a cuppa joe before a run or workout may be dangerous (coffee + jogging is intense effect on heart rate and blood pressure)
  • And, if you have hypertension, you should avoid coffee before a workout

I’m curious to hear what everyone else thinks about coffee before a workout. Has it made any difference? Good/Bad?

To learn more, check out the Livestrong website.

Are bananas good or bad for you?

When I first started running over ten years ago, I ate at least one banana a day. When discussing this with another runner, they cautioned me not to eat so many as it’s hard on the body and can lead to weight gain. I never thought much of this warning and continued to eat bananas at the same rate, but while running today I thought I’d check it out further (just in case.)


This is what I found on the website Nutrition Uncovered Bananas are:

  • high in natural sugar; researchers have found that eating just two bananas was enough to sustain a strenuous 90 minute workout
  • high in iron; good for anemic people
  • high in potassium, but low in salt; makes them good at regulating blood pressure in people. Potassium is a vital micronutrient that helps our body regulate heart beat to maintaining the body’s water balance.When under stress our metabolism increases and we tend to lose potassium faster. Having a few bananas restores your body’s potassium quickly
  • The high potassium content in bananas is also very good for the brain; in one study of 200 students, it was found that having bananas regularly during meals and breaks improved their ability to concentrate.
  • improve bowel action hugely because they are full of fiber. Many times they’re more effective than laxatives and safer too
  • People who suffer from heartburn often should include bananas with their meals. It has an antacid effect preventing heartburn
  • In one research, overweight people who snacked on sweets and chocolates often reduced weight dramatically just by switching over to bananas
  • have a chemical called tryptophan which gets converted in the body to serotonin which influences mood and makes us feel better. Although this may not be enough as a treatment for depression it is still enough to make normal people feel good
  • eating bananas daily has been found to reduce the incidence of stroke in people by up to 40%.
  • have a cooling tendency in the body and some people even believe that this cooling tendency extends to the emotions. Eating bananas regularly is supposed to have calming influence on the person
  • have curative properties dermatologically. For instance if you have warts of pimples, applying a piece of banana peel, skin side up on it and leaving it there overnight is supposed to remove them painlessly very quickly

In my experience, I always felt that bananas were natures power bar. If I had a banana before a run I always felt energized (and I still eat them either before or after a run.) Besides being cheap to buy, they’re one of the most effective fruits to eat. One banana has 4 times the protein, 2 times the carbs, 3 times the phosphorus, 5 times the Vit A and iron in comparison to Apples. Pretty cool, eh?

Finally, let’s tackle the myth that bananas make you fat. Well, that’s just BS. It’s true. Bananas are approximately 100 calories each and they aren’t empty calories either (calories from fruit are different from calories from fat). Because bananas have a low glycemic index they get broken down more slowly, leaving you feeling fuller longer.

Sadly, I can’t eat PB anymore, but I love bananas so I’ll keep eating them. What do you think?

Potatoes: carb replacement for pasta. YEAH BUDDY!

Okay. I have strong Scottish routes; in fact, on paper I’m the quintessential scottish descendent. I attended the Gaelic College and took Gaelic lessons, highland and step-danced (though not very well); and completed a weaving class with a good pal. Though I dropped out of all three, I feel I’ve done my due diligence to immerse myself in my heritage. However, when it comes to food I much prefer the Irish potatoes to Haggis.

Much to my delight, I learned recently that potatoes are actually just as effective in the carb-loading department as pasta. Amazing, eh? Potatoes, in their natural form (not chips and fries, unfortunately) are gluten free. YAHOO! So for all you gluten intolerant folks out there, push that gluten-free pasta crap out of the way and cook up some potatoes. Seriously. You can have them mashed, baked or broiled. The bonus is that every type of potato offers similar carb intake and nutrition. This means you can eat sweet, yellow, red, russet or whatever you like and still gain the same benefits!

So what are these benefits, you may ask…

  1. Potatoes are easy to prepare
  2. Full of minerals and vitamins
  3. Easy to digest
  4. They rank higher on the glycemic index in comparison to pasta, which means carbs get into bloodstream faster
  5. They taste awesome

Also, I’ve always been under the impression that most of a potatoes nutrition is found in the skin – this is not true. So Dad, you can rest easy now that I won’t make mashed potatoes again with skin on (he hates lumpy potatoes.) I just can’t believe my luck at finding out potatoes are great ahead of running – this just made my week! Sorry, Mr Potato Head. I’ll be loading up!

To learn how to properly carb-load prior to a race, click here.

Water is the driving force of all nature – Leonardo da Vinci

Yesterday I wrote a blog about running in the heat, so I thought I’d follow up by blogging about the importance of water and what it does for our bodies.We all know that water is the most important nutrient for your body; it makes up 3/4 of your total body weight and if we don’t get enough of it, we can get ourselves into trouble. So…

(From Mangosteen Natural Remedies)

What does water do?

Water helps maintain body temperature, carry nutrients, flushes toxins from vital organs, metabolize fats, aids in digestion and lubricates and cushions organs.

How much water should you drink a day?

The amount of water you need a day depends on a few things: where you live, your health and how active you are. However, the Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake of liquids for a healthy male is 3 litres (13 cups) of fluids per day. For a healthy woman, around 2.2 litres (9 cups).

What happens if you don’t drink enough water (or other fluids)?

If you don’t consume enough water, your body will pull fluids from other sources (including your own blood). It can cause closing of smaller vessels, thickening of blood, increase susceptibility to clotting and become harder to pump. This can all lead to hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease – YIKES!  Also, being dehydrated promotes the increase of body fat stores; it affects your ability to burn fat and can slow down your metabolism.

If you weren’t already aware, water can actually help you lose weight.

First, it has zero calories. Secondly, it’s a natural appetite suppressant. In some studies on mature adults, the results showed that they consumed less calories per day when they increased water intake.

Did you know that drinking water can prevent cramps, spasms and sprains?

That’s right. As noted before, water lubricates joints and muscles, lessoning your chances of cramps, spasms and sprains.

Having a difficult time in the bathroom?

Water helps with digestion and constipation. YAHOO!

Prone to headaches?

Drink more water. Most doctors will agree that if you’re experiencing headaches, before you reach for the Tylenol, reach for a glass of water. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, you may want to cut your consumption down.

Signs of Dehydration:

  1. Dark Urine
  2. Dry skin
  3. Headache
  4. Fatigue
  5. Thirst
  6. Hunger

Did you also know that if you drink too much of it, you can also have problems?

According to the Mayo Clinic, when your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, who drink large amounts of water, are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who eat an average American diet.

If you find it difficult to drink plenty of water a day, try adding lemon or cucumber.

  1. Adds flavour
  2. Adds silica, important nutrient for connective tissues
  3. Adds Vitamin C
  4. Adds Potassium

I have been drinking water with lemon and cucumber. I definitely find it a lot easier to consume more water  – give it a try!