Time to start your morning! Should you reach for an espresso or some freshly squeezed citrus fruits?
This question gets even more important when you live an active lifestyle. If you're about to hit the gym and want to power through your workout and get your day started right, coffee and orange juice have pros and cons you should know about.
- The Benefits of Coffee
- The Benefits of Orange Juice
- The Drawbacks of Coffee
- Drawbacks of Orange Juice
- The Final Word on Coffee and Orange Juice
The Benefits of Coffee
Let's start with what's great about coffee in the morning, especially before your workout.
Shake That Sleepy Feeling
Perhaps the most obvious benefit to coffee is the reason everyone drinks it: the caffeine in coffee blocks receptors in your brain that “read” a particular chemical known as adenosine. This organic compound is present in all your cells, and it's largely in charge of regulating when you sleep and when you wake up.
Adenosine builds up in our brains throughout the course of the day, and this build-up makes us feel sleepy. The receptors in our brains read all this adenosine and get the clear message: it's time to sleep. Caffeine blocks these receptors from getting the message, helping us feel alert and awake more quickly.
Get That Metabolism Revving
The caffeine in coffee is the same chemical you'll also find in over-the-counter weight loss supplements. People take these to get their metabolism running more quickly so they'll burn more calories.
It's debatable whether these supplements work, but the caffeine in your coffee definitely gets your metabolism moving. This is a great way to prepare for your workout.
Stay in Ketosis
Some of us work out in ketosis, while others of us prefer to eat our carbs. If you prefer the health benefits of working out in ketosis, coffee is a great way to boost your energy and alertness without adding any calories or carbs to your day.
Fight Inflammation and Pain
If you're doing it right, your workout is going to make you sore. You expect that the day after your workout, but you don't want to be feeling that soreness during your workout. Coffee contains some really potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Caffeine itself helps here, too. You've probably noticed that a lot of over-the-counter migraine remedies contain both caffeine and acetaminophen: that's because caffeine enhances the effect of the acetaminophen and offers more potent pain-fighting power.
Try Multiple Drinks
Let's face it: coffee is more diverse than orange juice. You can opt for an espresso, latte, cold brew or a standard Americano. Depending the coffee beans, you can also control the caffeine content, taste and even texture of your drink too.
Sure, you could always add ice-cubes, orange peel or more pulp to a glass of orange juice, but the taste won't change…that much. The diversity of choices is one reason why coffee shops are so popular; when was the last time you saw an orange juice shop?!
The Benefits of Orange Juice
Maybe morning's not morning to you without a tall glass of OJ. If this describes you, you'll be glad to know there are some benefits to orange juice, too.
If you're a believer in ingesting carbs and calories before a workout to fuel your metabolic rate for a really intense session, then orange juice has you covered.
You'll get some sugar and a good load of calories, but the sugar isn't white, refined sugar, and those calories aren't empty: they come with lots of vitamins and micronutrients.
Perhaps the most important of these for your workout is potassium. Without enough potassium, you're virtually guaranteed to experience cramping. Orange juice can help you avoid that by not only giving you potassium but also preventing you from losing it.
Dehydration can end the best workout too early. While coffee isn't a diuretic, as was previously thought, it's still not nearly as hydrating a beverage as orange juice. Orange juice will keep you hydrated and stop those cramps. Orange juice also has some electrolytes, which you need if you plan to be active in the morning.
Electrolytes like sodium and potassium enable your cells to balance their water. You can get electrolytes from sports drinks, of course, but why drink something that's blazing chemical blue when you could just drink something naturally sweet and refreshing, like orange juice?
The Drawbacks of Coffee
Is there any reason to forgo the Java before heading out for the day?
The Sugar Factor
Coffee's great: until you load it up with sugar. If you like a little coffee in your mocha-chocolate-berry-caramel-latte-frappy-bomb, you're not doing yourself any favors. By continually taking in a lot of refined sugars, you could promote adrenal exhaustion, which will actually make it much harder to work out effectively.
Don't put sugar in your coffee, and use just a small splash of cream if you need to lighten it up.
Some of us are just really sensitive to caffeine. If caffeine makes you go beyond alert to shaky and anxious, it's not going to help you start your day or work out effectively. If you're feeling a bit jittery from too much sugar, working out can help you burn that off and feel better. You can't burn off the caffeine.
Drawbacks of Orange Juice
Sorry, Florida: there are some drawbacks to starting your day with a glass of orange juice.
The Sugar Factor
Yes, orange juice is natural sugar, but it's still sugar. A really big glass sends your blood sugar skyrocketing. If you're not headed straight to the gym to burn that off, you're liable to have a sugar crash and lose energy.
While eating one orange gives you lots of fiber and a reasonable amount of sugar, it's awfully easy to drink too many oranges in juice form and push your blood sugar too high.
Watch Your Teeth
The citric acid in oranges will erode your tooth enamel if you're not careful. At the very least, rinse and spit with some water after your glass of OJ to stop this from happening.
The Final Word on Coffee and Orange Juice
Coffee and orange juice make a nice combo for starting the day right.
If you're planning on a really intense workout and need some carbs and calories to see you through, a glass of OJ is far superior to a sugar-laden coffee drink.
On the other hand, if you're trying to stay in ketosis or aren't planning a really intense workout, coffee provides energy without calories and a bit of pain relief, too. It never hurts to experiment, either, so try them both and see which one works best for you!
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- Bad for teeth
- Often sold as concentrate