skip to Main Content

Drink Up? The Pros and Cons of Coffee

With Anika Christ, RD

Season 7, Episode 7  | October 6, 2020

Coffee is a daily staple — and source of joy — for many of us. But there’s also a lot confusion around it: Is it good for you? Bad for you? Something in between? Anika Christ, RD, joins us to talk about how coffee can be part of a healthy nutrition plan, so long as you keep a few key considerations in mind. Plus, she shares some of her own good-for-you coffee drinks.

Headshot Of Anika Christ.

Anika Christ, RD, CPT, is the director of client optimization at Life Time. She’s known to many as “Coach Anika” and leads a number of digital programs at Life Time, including the D.TOX program.

“In America, we don’t have a lot of food culture, but we do have a little culture around coffee, which is fun. But there’s also a lot of really great research tied to its health benefits,” says Christ. “I’m all about what tastes best to you. Don’t just drink coffee because it’s healthy; drink what you’re going to enjoy. I drink coffee in so many different ways.”

Here are Christ’s tips for making healthy and tasty coffee choices, and three of her go-to coffee drink recipes — including a seasonal favorite.

  • Go organic when possible: Organic and non-organic coffee offer the same health benefits, but if you’re looking to reduce your pesticide and chemical exposure, opt for organic as often as you can — organic and fair trade is even better.
  • Pick your roast: The lighter the roast, the higher the caffeine content. The darker the roast, the more antioxidants you tend to get.
  • Choose your brewing method: Drip, French press, pour over, cold brew — there are plenty of options to try based on your preference. Typically, the longer brewing methods tend to offer more health benefits due to higher antioxidant levels.
  • Be conscious of add-ins: Full-fat creamers are great if you tolerate dairy. If not, there are plenty of unsweetened, full-fat coconut, almond, oat, or other non-dairy alternatives. Added sugar is often the biggest thing to look out for in coffee drinks and creamers. As an alternative, flavor yours with healthier options such as spices like cinnamon, extracts like peppermint or almond, or more natural sweeteners like stevia.

Anika’s Morning Go-To

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hot, black coffee
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 “heavy” shakes of cinnamon
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 5 to 10 drops liquid stevia

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and enjoy.

Anika’s Midday Second Cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hot, black coffee
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 drops peppermint extract

Directions

  1. Mix together the coffee and coconut milk.
  2. Take a toothpick and insert it inside the peppermint extract bottle so the end of toothpick is coated with extract. Stir the coffee and milk mixture with the coated end of the toothpick.

Blended Pumpkin Spice “Lean” Latte

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hot, black coffee
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbs. pumpkin puree
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients together and enjoy.

More Like This

A woman's hands holding a cup of coffee.
By The Life Time Training Team
Confused about coffee? Some say it's bad for you, some say it's good. Learn about the health benefits, plus a bit about the beverage's history.
A cup of blended coffee on a counter next to some of its ingredients — a french press filled with coffee, coconut oii, and powders.
By The Life Time Training Team
Skip a trip to the coffee shop and make your own fancy (but easy!) drink at home.
A compilation of six powdered forms of fitness supplements in various containers on a surface.
By Michael Dregni
Here are 4 go-to fitness supplements to help you get better, stronger, and faster.

Transcript: Drink Up? The Pros and Cons of Coffee

Season 7, Episode 7  | October 6, 2020

Jamie Martin 
Welcome to Life Time Talks, the healthy-living podcast that’s aimed at helping you achieve your health, fitness, and life goals. I’m Jamie Martin, editor in chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole-life health and fitness magazine.

David Freeman 
And I’m David Freeman, the national program leader for Life Time’s Alpha program. We’re all in different places along our health and fitness journey, but no matter what we’re working toward, there are some essential things we can do to keep moving forward in the direction of a healthy, purpose-driven life.

Jamie Martin 
In each episode of this season, we’ll break down various elements of healthy living, including fitness and nutrition, mindset and community, and health issues. We’ll also share real, inspiring stories of transformation.

David Freeman 
And we’ll be talking to experts from Life Time and beyond who’ll share their insights and knowledge, so you’ll have the tools and information you need to take charge of your next steps. Here we go.

[Music]

Jamie Martin

A quick shout-out to our sponsor, HOKA ONE ONE®, a footwear and apparel brand with a mission to empower all athletes to feel like they can fly. I’m personally a fan of HOKA’s EVO Rehi’s. It’s a pair of super lightweight running shoes that offers just the right amount of cushion and support without feeling heavy and bulky and that’s something I’ve really struggled with over the years as I’ve been on the hunt for good running shoes.

In uncertain times like these, HOKA knows movement can provide an important outlet, both mentally and physically, as well as a crucial perspective about our circumstances. Head to hokaoneone.com and follow @hokaoneone on Instagram to see examples of how HOKA athletes everywhere are finding inspiration, motivation, and joy in daily movement. That’s hokaoneone.com.

Jamie Martin

Hey, everyone. I’m Jamie Martin.

David Freeman

And I’m David Freeman.

Jamie Martin

And welcome back to Life Time Talks. In this episode, we’re talking about coffee, a beverage that is near and dear to my heart, but David, I know it’s not one that’s necessarily near and dear to you. I learned in this episode that you do not consume coffee, and I need to understand this better. Tell me a little bit about how you have not yet become a coffee drinker.

David Freeman

Well, I don’t want to spoil it too early for everybody, but I do speak about how my energy is from people, so I get a lot of my energy from people, so no caffeine, no coffee for me, I just need to be around people.

Jamie Martin

I hear that, but I’m also going to advocate for it a little bit, and I think there’s some tidbits in this episode that might convince you that coffee or caffeine might have a place in your health and fitness program.

OK, so this is a healthy living podcast, we obviously could talk all day long — or at least I could — about the joys of drinking coffee, but we’re going to get into the specifics about the potential health benefits, the pros and cons, and so much more, and for that, we’re going to bring in Anika Christ, she’s going to come back to the podcast, she was in season one, you may remember her. David tell us a little bit about Anika.

David Freeman

Yes, we’re bringing Anika back. She is a registered dietitian, personal trainer, and director of client optimization at Life Time. You may know her as “Coach Anika.” She leads a number of different virtual programs including D.TOX, a popular 14-day elimination protocol that has helped thousands of Life Time members clean up their eating, lose weight, and feel better.

Jamie Martin

Alright, David, anything you want to add before we get right into this episode? Any highlights for you?

David Freeman

I mean, the highlight is are you guys going to be able to flip me to end up taking in some coffee, so we’ll see.

Jamie Martin

I think we can do it. I think we’ve got some little things in here that might just convince you. Alright, so we’re going to get right into it. Listeners go pour yourself a cup of coffee, here we go.

David Freeman

Welcome back, everyone. In this episode, we are talking about coffee with Ms. Anika Christ. She’s the queen of coffee, and before we get into the nitty gritty about how it relates to our health, we’re going to get to the heart of the matter right away, Anika, how do you drink your coffee?

Anika Christ

I drink it in so many different ways, but I’d say, depending on the season, so right now we’re in the warmer months, I’m all about cold brew. So, I love like high fat with cold brew, so usually, if I can make my own coconut milk, I’ll do it, otherwise, coconut or almond milk from the store, and then I really like cinnamon and extracts, so I use vanilla or almond extract, and that is like my jam right now, twice a day.

Jamie Martin

OK, you need to send me your recipe . . .

Anika Christ

Yeah.

Jamie Martin

. . . mine is not that exciting. OK, so we decided at the beginning of this we were going to talk about how we each take our coffee. David, how do you take your coffee, if you take coffee?

David Freeman

Well, I’m going to tell you, my coffee is people, alright. So, my energy, my caffeine is people. So, a lot of people are usually shocked when they know that I’m not taking in any kind of coffee or caffeine because of all the energy that I bring, and I’m like, hey, it’s a reciprocity of life, you give me energy, I’ll give you energy, so people are my form of coffee. What about you, Jamie?

Jamie Martin

Oh, OK, so if I order a coffee I really like a latte, and it’s often I’ll just do like an almond milk latte, and on special occasions, I’ll maybe do a mocha latte, which I know it has those added sugars, we’re going to talk about those later, but if I’m at home, we usually do like a French press. My husband is the coffee guru here in our house, and he has been awesome about bringing me coffee regularly throughout the days, but I’ll add a little bit of oat milk and even a little splash of like maple syrup. A friend of mine had told me that a couple years ago, and I’m like, I’m going to try that instead of just the straight table sugar, so I have a few different ways of taking coffee.

Anika Christ

I feel like the oat milk has created a whole new experience, like of all the new milks, like oat milk with coffee is so good, too. I forgot about that.

Jamie Martin

I highly recommend the oat milk. OK, so now that we all know how we take our coffee. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, we’ve seen a lot about many coffee shops, which are a go-to for so many people, have been closed for a period of time or they’re partially open in some way, and that’s changed how a lot of us consume our coffee, but it doesn’t mean that we’ve stopped drinking. We have heard anecdotally that people are drinking more coffee than even prior to the pandemic, you know, as a way to help with stress, to help with energy throughout the days, but also just statistically, there’s evidence that coffee is being drunk by a lot more people, so this spring, subscription sales at U.S. coffee shops were up 109 percent compared to the previous year. We’re drinking coffee a lot, so let’s talk about that, tell us a little bit about coffee, is it good for us, is it bad for us, is it somewhere in between? Anika, let’s get into it.

Anika Christ

Yeah, it’s such a good question because I actually lead a couple programs at Life Time where we take coffee out, and I’ll get into that in a little bit, so usually people are like, oh, is it bad, is coffee bad, and it’s like, oh, that’s been the debate I would say over the last 20 years, there’s always research that shows kind of both sides of the story, but I would say I believe that coffee is up right now, and just talking with people that I’m friends and family with or my neighbors, like I always want to know why because it’s like it is the pandemic, and we are stressed out, a lot of us are at home, so you could say is it because we just have more access to our own coffee maker, but in reality, a lot of us, we’re just stressed, we’re not sleeping, so we’re in dire need of more caffeine, and I would say when you’re looking at the good and bad of it, I always think you start to toggle a little bit on the bad side when you depend on it, and that’s hard because a lot of us, we were just talking about it, it’s very ritual for me, I love waking up early, especially in the winter months, I go away from cold brew and go to warm, and I love that feeling of a hot beverage in my hand, especially when we live in America where we don’t have a lot of food culture, I feel like we do kind of have a little culture around coffee, which is fun, but there’s a lot of really great research around it tied to health benefits.

So, they’ve shown that even drinking more than what’s recommended, and I would say most dietitians recommend one to two cups a day, that’s kind of keeping it moderate, keeping it in the health bucket, so you’re not dependent on it, you’re making sure you’re getting other fluids in throughout the day, there’s a lot of reasons why we suggest that. But they’ve shown people that are drinking four to six cups a day have a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, for heart disease, and that doesn’t necessarily go back to the caffeine, they actually think it goes back to the coffee and the bean, and actually the antioxidants that that beverage can entail, and there’s so many other cultures around the world that they literally, that is their main beverage throughout the entire day, so there’s a lot to learn is it causation or just correlation of people that eat healthier in general.

But I will say just being a coach at Life Time for as long as I have, a lot of people use it often as an appetite suppressant because they’ll say, hey, I tend to not eat as much because I’m slowly sipping on something that I really enjoy, so I feel like there’s a lot of good, and I would say against the debate of good or bad, definitely, we’ve leaned more on the good side, if you like it, right, because there’s always the person that’s like should I just start if I don’t drink it, and it’s like, if you like it, and usually where we get into the not-so-healthy territory, it’s usually what are we adding, how much are we drinking, and then how much are we depending on it. Those are the conversations. I think it is dependent on the individual, but for the most part, what I’ve seen is we’re drinking too much because we’re not getting sleep, and that’s fueling that same fire over and over and over again because then we can’t fall asleep and get into a heavy sleep. And I would say, from what I’ve learned, everyone is so unique there. We all metabolize coffee so different, and I think that’s what’s hard is when people talk to me, I could drink one at dinner and go right to bed, and people are like, I can’t drink it after noon, like that’s not fair, so I do think there’s lot of individual recommendations around it, too.

David Freeman

Well, I love how you tackled that question. Obviously, we talked about what’s the benefits and then where are the areas of opportunity, so I think you tackled that as far as when you educate yourself a little bit more on what it is and the benefits behind it, but also knowing when to actually take a step back to make sure you’re not dependent on it.

You did mention caffeine, so what about caffeine, and now let’s talk about anxiety, especially with what we got going on right now, people are experiencing that, so how do you correlate those two together, and I know that can be a double whammy when you look at caffeine and anxiety.

Anika Christ

It’s so interesting there because I could tell you with individuals I’ve coached, it’s been very different. Where I’ve had clients that they know it causes them anxiety, they’ll say, I stay away from coffee because I feel jittery, my mind races, I don’t like the way I feel, and then I have other clients that have no issues with it, so again, it’s like it’s hard to give like a blanket recommendation because everyone is so different there, but I would say as anxiety is high right now, that is something to look at, too, like do you feel like you’re more symptomatic than usual, and is it actually tying back to the amount of coffee you’re drinking because you’re not getting sleep at night.

So as a coach, we do this all the time, right, we try to unwind, like why are behaviors happening, why are habits happening, why are new habits happening, and so I’ve actually backtracked it for a few people recently where they’re on social media at night, they’re seeing stuff that’s like getting them to not sleep, and they’re freaking out and not sleeping well at all, so then they’re waking up sleep deprived, and then they’re drinking coffee all day, and then all of a sudden they’re like I can’t fall asleep at night because I’m so stimulated. So sometimes it’s figuring out what happened first here, as a coach, but definitely if you feel like you’ve never taken something out — and we learn this with D.TOX all the time because we do take out caffeine with D.TOX because too much caffeine actually interferes with the detoxification process, and I can get into that a little bit more on the science side, but people start to realize during the D.TOX program because they’re not drinking coffee, they’re like, I feel like my anxiety is gone, and it’s like, wow, like, let’s talk about that, maybe that does tie back to the caffeine.

But caffeine in general, I know in the sports nutrition lane, we use it all the time for performance, that’s actually how I first started studying coffee and caffeine is that is a well known . . . that’s probably where coffee is researched the most is sports performance, and now listening to you, David, you don’t need it, I’m just like, wow, how do you perform so well, too, like that’s amazing.

David Freeman

No, hold on. You got my ears up. If it can increase my performance, I might have to jump . . . yeah, I might have to jump on the coffee bandwagon.

Anika Christ

You’re in? You’re in. We do it all the time. That’s why you can buy it in supplement form, too, is there’s a lot of athletes that use it for that, and I always think just like mental clarity. A lot of us, we know even sniffing the aroma of coffee can make us more stimulated and ready, so there are so many cool benefits with it, too. But I would say on the anxiety side, it’s definitely if you haven’t trialed it before, it absolutely can, and it could also go back to how your metabolism is functioning because we all metabolize caffeine differently, and anxiety goes back to your gut health.

David Freeman

So, Jamie, let me ask a question before I pass the ball to you. So, I mean, once again, this is a little bit off the script because I got interested when you just said that, so you said that was some things that you came into when you were studying within the sports performance, so what are some of the benefits from the performance aspects, so I can know exactly what coffee does for athletes?

Anika Christ

The one that I remember was like they were measuring high jumps, so like literally like your actual performance of what your body was capable of doing in practicing was better when it was using caffeine as a sports supplement, so there’s a lot of literature — I’m going to find it for you and send you all the stuff because it is a thing, and I would say when you study sports nutrition, there’s like five supplements that you look at, beta-alanine, creatine, but caffeine is its own thing.

David Freeman

I am writing this down.

Jamie Martin  

Well, one thing I have read, even for those non-coffee drinkers out there, I have heard about even if you’re not an athlete, if you’re not after performance, it could be a great pre-workout thing if like your body’s not used to having caffeine, so can you speak to that at all, Anika?

Anika Christ

So, using coffee in general as a pre-workout?

Jamie Martin

Yeah. Well, for the caffeine in general.

Anika Christ

Yes.

Jamie Martin

You want the caffeine aspect of coffee, and I guess that brings the question about is it better to get the caffeine from coffee or from another source. I’m assuming it would be from coffee if it’s coming from more of a whole source.

Anika Christ

Absolutely. Well, and so the coffee also has antioxidants in there, which are super protective for antiinflammation, etc., so we would usually say, yeah, in lieu of . . . I mean, and a lot of athletes do this where it’s an actual supplement pill of caffeine, and I am someone that was like I would rather drink the coffee, that’s crazy, but if you’re not a coffee drinker, they’ll opt for that, but if you haven’t and you’re interested in trialing with it, yeah, like black coffee prior to a workout can be an awesome pre-workout, and we have our own pre-workout at Life Time where you will see there is a good amount of caffeine in it, and previously, we used to have it from a green tea form, which also has a ton of antioxidants in there, a lot of good things about green tea source of caffeine as well, it just doesn’t have as much as coffee, so that’s always an exciting conversation to have, right, when people think, oh is it bad, is it good, and they’re like, oh, I can just have that on an empty stomach before a workout? Yeah, as long as you don’t feel anxious and it doesn’t impact your digestion and gut health and you feel great, it’s a great resource and tool.

That’s why I feel like the fasting movement grew so fast is because you can have black coffee, and it helps with suppression of appetite, but it’s very easy to digest, obviously, and break down, too, so people are all about it.

Jamie Martin

So, I want to go into that because intermittent fasting is something we’ve covered a lot in the magazine, I know you guys have talked a lot about it, let’s talk about that because I feel like there’s a lot of confusion about what you can and what you can’t have when you’re in that fasting window. So, coffee is OK, but I’m assuming, it’s coffee without all the extras?

Anika Christ

Correct. Yes. Usually you don’t want to introduce any other macronutrients in there, and the extras usually have like fat and carbohydrates, depending on what you’re putting in there. I’ve had clients say, well, what about even like protein powder. I’m like, protein is not glucose neutral, so like if you’re trying to get the full benefit of fasting and letting your body have that break from digestion and supporting your gut health, black coffee and water are kind of the two things. And it’s all funny because we have blood testing at Life Time, and that’s in our protocols, you can drink black coffee, and usually I always feel like our parents and older generation kind of know that, they’re like, oh yeah, I can have black coffee, and I’m like, who drinks black coffee anymore, but it does kind of go back to that, that it’s a thing, that’s it, there’s no other macronutrients, so it’s not going to break your fast the way a high fat protein or addition of sugar into the coffee would.

Jamie Martin

OK, so I have not been intermittent fasting then just so you know.

Anika Christ

I know.

Jamie Martin

No more of that oat milk in there.

Anika Christ

I know.

Jamie Martin

Dang it.

Anika Christ

It’s so good.

Jamie Martin

I’m going to get back to it.

Anika Christ

Fasting is such a cool thing too, there’s so . . . again, another thing, it impacts so many people so differently, and there’s so many different ways to use it as a tool, kind of in the toolbox, but it’s like they call it the world’s most forgotten cure on a lot of things, which is pretty cool.

David Freeman

I’m thinking over here the timing because you said a lot of people are drinking it throughout the day and then this is probably why they’re not able to go to sleep, so what would be like the recommended time, should you not be drinking after 12, like what’s probably the best time to drink coffee, and when is it starting to get into that, uh oh, red flag if you drink it after this time?

Anika Christ

I would say at a practitioner level, we usually tell people try to cut it off by noon because usually by noon, if it’s going to impact your ability to fall and stay asleep, the caffeine half-life isn’t short enough to have it after that, if you’re going to bed on time, you know, and everyone’s got a little bit different schedule or routine, when they work, when they sleep, but for the most part, let’s say you’re going to bed matching the sun and the circadian rhythm cycle, I would say cut it off at noon.

Now, again, I already told you this, like I could drink it at dinner, and I still fall and stay asleep early, all night, and I’m fine. I find actually phone and social media stimulates my brain more than caffeine does. It is a little bit of an experiment, and I always think it’s not fair, right, when I tell clients that, they’ll be like, ugh, because I love like a 3 p.m. pick me up because I feel like I’ve been on a computer screen all day, like I need a little bit of a break, so I like a little extra cup then, but for most people, I would say after noon can be problematic, and if you’re sleeping and falling asleep fine, maybe not a big deal, but if that’s an issue for you, for your health, and what you’re trying to do and achieve, that’s probably something you have to address.

Jamie Martin

OK, so you’ve talked about timing, but there’s something within, you keep repeating this, it kind of depends on the individual, and obviously, individuals, we’re different down to the genetic level, so there are things called snips that are like genetic mutations that could be affecting this that I’ve heard about in our different research for the magazine, can you speak to that from like there are genetic differences that may be making some people more sensitive to coffee caffeine than others.

Anika Christ

Yeah, and I always feel like with the DNA testing, when that went live, I don’t know 10 years ago, whenever it had its like original peak, that was like that thing, I felt like everyone was excited to read about, it was like I’m a poor or bad coffee metabolizer, but it does come back to that, and I would say for everyone, you know, there’s always a discussion of like the genes are what load the gun, but the environment is the trigger, so there’s always the debate of like what is it and what else is going on in your metabolism. And I will say personally I’ve had clients experience both sides of that depending on what was going on in their life. I don’t always know if it’s an all or nothing thing, but it absolutely is a thing, and that’s with all sorts of things not just coffee, but the way that we metabolize a lot of different things, a lot of external environmental chemicals and stuff, same thing, they have different impacts on different people. I would always say like if you can do genetic testing, like that’s kind of a cool way if you really want to see and find out, they can actually show you that.

I’m always a big fan of elimination. Try it, take it out and see, and you’ll know, you’ll definitely know, and that’s where I always love a program like D.TOX because it’s a forced elimination of two weeks, and it’s the hardest thing for me to give up because I love coffee, but I will say most of the time people figure it out during that program, whether they’re a good or a bad metabolizer of it.

Jamie Martin

Right, and I think I’m more like you, Anika, in that I can pretty much have coffee any time of day before 6 p.m., and I mean, I don’t really drink coffee after that, but I will say I tend to not — it doesn’t affect my sleep as much as other people, and I have team members, for instance, who are like if I have even a little espresso in the afternoon, I’m up all night, so it really, I mean, again, could be circumstances, could be partly genetic, all those pieces.

David Freeman

Well now, I got a question for you, Anika, and we go to go deep here, so somebody like myself, we found out at the beginning, I don’t necessarily drink coffee, so what are some other alternatives or options people can try that still taste good and give them an energy boost, and something that kind of aligns to be nutritionally safe and good for your body for the long haul?

Anika Christ

I love green tea, and again, green tea tends to have ebb and flows with nutrition, I feel like, because, again, when I entered the world, it was all about green tea, I felt like, in the world of nutrition, and now I’m like I feel like no one’s talking about green tea these days, but green tea, I mean, again, when you talk about antioxidants and just like protective nutrition, as far as your metabolism and your cellular health, like green tea, we could learn from the rest of the world there, and that should be something, and again, if I’m trying to take a break from coffee because I feel like I’m overconsuming it, I usually go to green tea because I love a couple of packets of green tea with a little bit of honey from the local farmer is heaven to me in a little cup. And I would say for the most part, there’s a lot of research on that because, again, when you’re looking at stimulants — and I think of all the energy drinks out there — and I’m always like, ugh, it’s not a natural form, it’s usually artificial, it’s created in a lab, I usually go towards the green tea or yerba mate tea, any of those I think are critical and amazing. If you’re just looking for something to enjoy but to give you a little bit of caffeine with performance, if that was your goal, and you and I were talking about your nutrition, David, I would lead people towards that, for sure.

Jamie Martin

What are your thoughts, Anika, because I’ve heard of this also as a replacement is like the dandelion root tea because that has kind of a bitter flavor kind of like coffee?

Anika Christ

Yep.

Jamie Martin

Any thoughts on that?

Anika Christ

Yeah.

Jamie Martin

I know that’s also known for like kind of its detox benefits as well.

Anika Christ

Absolutely.

Anika Christ

Dandelion, lion’s mane, there’s another one, too. I feel like all the mushroom drinks that came out over the last couple years, they kind of all fall under that, like very natural, found within nature. I will say those don’t work as well on me, but again, knowing my metabolism is different than other people, I would still lead people there to say, see if you like it, see if you try it, especially if you’re feeling anxious from the amount of caffeine that’s in coffee. I always feel like there’s a certain tolerable amount for most individuals, so those ones have significantly less, but again, really good at mental clarity, making you feel good, those other benefits that coffee provide a lot of us in the morning without the amount of caffeine. So absolutely, and I would think try it, they’re different, like you said, they’re bitter, they’re not as sweet, the aroma isn’t as strong as coffee, but absolutely a great strategy to try if you’ve been wanting or looking for something like that.

Jamie Martin

OK, and I have one more to throw at you because this is very popular on Instagram: the matcha alternatives. Those are totally caffeine-free is my understanding?

Anika Christ

From what I have researched and saw, they are caffeine-free. I always think there’s going to be a small amount no matter what. It’s like decaf coffee to me, because I have one client I’m thinking about right now, and she would do like matcha, and she would get it, and she still would get anxiety, which was crazy, and she’s like I can tell there’s still some caffeine in here, and again, just knowing individual amounts are so different, but it is a thing. I think it’s cool. The café brought in matcha a couple years ago and I was super excited about that. I just like the taste of matcha too, and I feel like for most people that is an advantage compared to other alternatives. So yes, don’t ever think it’s free of nothing because it probably has some like decaf, but absolutely, I would give it a shot. A lot of antioxidant benefits there, too.

David Freeman

Let’s talk about the beans, let’s talk about how the coffee is actually brewed. You have so many different elements that go into the process, so what are some different brewing methods or what should somebody be looking for when they look at the types of beans that they’re getting for their coffee?

Anika Christ

If you’re going to do your own at home, I suppose there’s the two reins of thought, you’re going to buy it ground or you’re going to buy the beans first and grind it yourself. There’s always the first question I feel like I get a lot from our members is organic worth it or not, like what’s the real deal there, and I always tell them, I mean, just like agriculture, like coffee, it’s kind of a dirty crop, like I hate to say it that way, but we do use pesticides and herbicides, and all those estrogen-mimicking chemicals are added to it because you have to, like that’s our agricultural process, so if you’re going to go for organic, I would say do it. Fair trade is even better. If you can’t, you’re still going to get the benefits that all the research is on is not . . . the research for the decrease in type 2 diabetes, and weight management, and stuff is not done on organic coffee, so I’d say for benefit-wise, they’re both going to give you the same, but if you’re looking to reduce your pesticide exposure and all the chemicals that are often found in agriculture, organic is something I would go after as often as you can, but again, I don’t drink organic every time either, and I’m a sucker to go to my local coffee shop, and I don’t think it’s organic there either, so I always tell people don’t feel like you have to go perfect. But usually, depending on the bean, it depends on the oil as well, so there’s obviously different roast kinds, there’s light and dark roast.

Light roast, ironically, are higher in caffeine, which most people think dark roast would be, but it’s actually lighter roasts, and usually, depending on what your brewing method is depends on how much of the oils that’s in the coffee bean are actually going to get through, so a lot of the drip or pour overs, the filter is actually going to collect most of those oils, but there’s still benefit in the coffee that’s being extracted.

I tell people, I’m a little bit of a connoisseur, but I like them all. When Jamie said the French press, I’m like, oh my gosh, I love French press, and I feel like I go back and forth between a regular old fashion drip or pour over with a French press all the way to cold brew, which again, usually the longer the brewing method usually there’s more antioxidants and a little bit more health benefit. The darker roast tend to have more antioxidants as well, they just don’t have as much caffeine, so a lot of people want to go for the light roast because you want the little bit of a kick and a little bit more alertness. So I always tell people, again, when you’re shopping for bean, if you’re going to grind it yourself, there’s a little bit of an advantage there because you’re going to mimic how much you use, how fine the actual molecule is, but if you want to go for more health benefit, try and go darker, organic and fair trade is awesome. If you want more of a kick, you’re going to more steer towards the lighter roast. But I’m all about what tastes the best to you, so don’t drink it just because it’s healthy and doesn’t taste good, like do and drink what you are going to enjoy. For me, that’s cold brew, right now.

David Freeman

Wow. I’m going to say this really quick, je ne sais pas. Did you hear me say that, je ne sais pas?

Anika Christ

Whoa.

David Freeman

Exactly. It means, “I don’t know” in French. The way you broke it down just now all the different methods and stuff, it sounded so foreign to me I didn’t even realize there were so many different methods of how you can actually make your coffee, so I mean, I’m just mind blown, that’s why I had to say je ne sais pas, so you all can feel what I felt in that moment.

Anika Christ  

It’s funny, too, Dave, because it’s like, I mean, I love getting into all that stuff, but always go back to like, well, what are people doing, and I still think from the clients and the members I talk to, most often, it’s the stuff that that we’re adding to it. It’s like if we were just talking about brewing methods and beans, like that’s awesome, all of them are great, you could put them all on the same list, but it’s usually the way we’re consuming it, and it’s the stuff we’re adding, and I feel like those are the conversations I have with clients is if it’s like I can’t kick this creamer or this sugar, I usually am like, are you sure you like coffee, like we start there, like we literally like maybe you don’t even like it, and that’s OK too. And usually it’s like people love the aroma, they love to smell it brewing, and we could talk about essential oils, too, like just that in general, like happy dopamine, I’m all about that too. But I always tell people like if you can’t drink it without all that stuff or like if we can’t modify it, like maybe we question drinking something else or doing something else.

And again, I’m going to go back to detox, because it’s a forced elimination, that’s the number one thing people will say too, is I didn’t realize how much creamer I was using or like how much sugar I was drinking, and it’s like, it’s hard because it’s addictive, like sugar is very addictive, and I go back to I can remember in high school drinking coffee coolers at the Minnesota coffee shop, we have a really popular chain up here, and it was Oreo-flavored coffee coolers, and don’t look that information up online for nutrition because you’ll be horrified, it was like I was doing that, like all the time, and it’s no better than a milkshake. So that’s usually what I’m talking to people is like how can we enjoy it more, maybe you brew it at home so you can smell it and enjoy it, and figure out the real reasons why they need it or have found themselves in that habit.

Jamie Martin

OK, so I still want my coffee, sometimes with a little bit of mocha in it, right, and I know other people who love it, it’s their go-to thing. OK, so but one of my tricks personally is to ask for half of the amount of mocha or half of the amount of stuff, so for somebody who does like to have a lot of add-ins, and they think they like coffee, what are your strategies for helping them kind of cut back?

Anika Christ

Just like discovering what’s in it. Sometimes, we don’t even want to know, right, and then it’s like, well, let me look it up and just see because usually all the add-ins there is substitutes for, and I used to get that all the time, too, like isn’t sugar-free substitutes bad though because they have these in there, and it’s kind of like pick your poison, like let’s look at your whole day, like what part of this is actually fitting in the equation. But I always tell people like if you’re doing it at a coffee shop or even at home, go for full-fat creamers as much as you can, because usually if you drink those plain to start — and you can add in your own sweeteners — at least you’re in control of what you’re putting in there, so I also like people to get introduced to their spice rack again because there are so many ways — like cinnamon, you guys, all day, like you have no idea what you’re missing out if you haven’t tried that yet, and there’s a little bit of an aroma feel to that, but like smelling that while you’re drinking it, I swear it’s heaven. And I even use — I love peppermint extract, I love almond extract, I love all the extracts, I do like a wooden toothpick, and I usually just put some on there, and then I swirl it in the coffee.

Jamie Martin

OK, I’m trying that tomorrow.

Anika Christ

Oh, good.

Jamie Martin

I’m doing that tomorrow.

Anika Christ

It’s so good, so good. But I always think like I have a local coffee shop here that I love, and they are like famous for all these different types of lattes, and people go there for that, and I’m always like, OK, well, how much, can you do half the pump or no pump. I always think the main chains have like secret lists where you can make it like sugar-free or keto, I’ve seen that a lot on Instagram, which is kind of cool. But I always say like, first, see what the add-ins are, always ask for full fat, they might not always have it, so their oat milk or almond milk might not be unsweetened. If you’re going to do it at a shop, try to reduce the sugar I would say is the number one issue with coffee at a coffee shop, but if you’re doing it at home, get full fat. If you can tolerate dairy, full-fat creamer is great. Otherwise, they have plenty of coconut, almond milk options that are just low sugar, unsweetened, full-fat, and then add in your own. And liquid Stevia, and again, I know there’s some people that don’t like Stevia, so I always think about them, too, but if you tolerate Stevia, that can go a long way, too, you don’t need a lot, and it’s actually really good, and I love sugar, so I’m going to tell you that, too, like I am not an, oh, I’m OK, like I love sugar, and I can drink coffee without it. You can make it good without it, I promise.

David Freeman

Well, is it time, Jamie? Is it time for us to go into the special power minute?

Jamie Martin

I think we’re ready unless, Anika, is there anything else about coffee you think people need to know?

Anika Christ

I think of the times right now if they’re listening in and you’re feeling like, oh, I’m not sleeping, I’m stressed out, like where do I start, like I always still think, one tip I give my detoxers is if you feel like you’re doing too much, you can like start to do half-and-half, do half decaf and half. If you’re a volume person, like start to cut it back that way, start cutting off your time every day. There are ways and there’s solutions to do that, but again, if you’re less than a few cups a day, you’re fine, it’s really probably just the add-ins, but all day, I think it’s one of the best things, and I think it’s one of the things that we can keep, you don’t have to get rid of it, but I hope everyone is enjoying their cup.

Jamie Martin

I’m relieved to hear that. OK, Dave.

David Freeman

We’re about to go into that power minute now. What’s one thing you hope people remember from this episode when it comes to coffee?

Anika Christ

That you can be in total control to make it good and make it feel good, and it can absolutely be part of a healthy way of life.

David Freeman

Oh, that was good. You seem like you were ready for that one.

Jamie Martin

Alright, Anika, before we sign off, where can people hear more from you?

Anika Christ

Well, I am a regular contributor on thesource.lifetime.life, so if you want to read on, on that. Otherwise, you can follow us at our Life Time Training Facebook page. It’s a private group for members alike to get access to our best fitness professionals, me included.

Jamie Martin

Thank you, Anika, and I hope everybody hears that it’s OK to have that cup of joe from time to time — or every day. Every day is fine. Dave, you’re going to join us here one of these days.

David Freeman

Yes, I am.

Jamie Martin

Alright, thanks, Anika.

Anika Christ

Thank you, guys.

[Music]

David Freeman 
Thanks for joining us for this episode. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our conversation today and how you approach this aspect of healthy living in your own life. What works for you? Where do you run into challenges? Where do you need help?

Jamie Martin 
And if you have topics for future episodes, you can share those with us, too. Email us at lttalks@lt.life, or reach out to us on Instagram at @lifetime.life@jamiemartinel, or @freezy30 and use the hashtag #LifeTimeTalks. You can also learn more about the podcast at thesource.lifetime.life/podcasts.

David Freeman 
And if you’re enjoying Life Time Talks, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Feel free to write a review and also let others know about it, too. Take a screenshot of the episode and share it on social, share it with your friends, family, work buddies, life coach. You get the gist.

Jamie Martin 
Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next time on Life Time Talks.

[Music]

Jamie Martin

Life Time Talks is a production of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life. It is produced by Molly Schelper, with audio engineering by Peter Perkins and sound consulting by Coy Larson. A big thank you to the team who pulls each episode together and everyone who provided feedback.

We’d Love to Hear From You

Have thoughts you’d like to share or topic ideas for future episodes? Email us at lttalks@lt.life.

The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

Back To Top