bite my words

Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Getting your caffeine in the shower

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Have you ever heard of caffeine-containing body wash and soap? I’d heard of using coffee grounds as a fat-reducing, exfoliating scrub before (spoiler: rubbing coffee on your body will not help you lose weight, it does exfoliate quite nicely though but also makes a mess in the tub). Anyway… Until last month I’d never heard of caffeine-containing body wash. Silly me, I should have known that it would exist.

Upon hearing about it, naturally, my first question was if we could even absorb caffeine topically. As it turns out, yes, we can. Of course, my next question was whether or not one could absorb enough caffeine from a body wash to have any appreciable effect. Short answer: probably not. The study in the previous link showed that about 50% of caffeine applied topically can be absorbed through hair follicles and caffeine shows-up in blood after only five minutes of topical application when follicles are open. A nice warm shower would ensure that your follicles are open for maximum absorption. However, I don’t know about you but I don’t really want to stand around for at least five minutes to get a little bit of caffeine from my soap. I’d hazard to guess that for the amount of time that most of us spend covered in soap suds that we’d absorb very little caffeine from our soap.

While caffeinated soaps and body washes may make a fun gimmicky gift for the caffeine aficionado in your life, if you really want to keep them awake you’re better off giving them some good old-fashioned coffee beans.


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More about butter and coffee and so-called experiments

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After seeing Mondays blog post on buttered coffee, a friend sent me a link to another blog post about adding butter to coffee. Unfortunately for me, I was reading the post on my phone, skimmed through the middle, and read the end conclusion that you should “TRY IT!  You won’t be sorry.” As it turned out, that quote was from an earlier post, which in my haste and on my iphone, appeared to be a continuation of the first post. This lead to a long and painful “discussion” on twitter with the author of the original post.

The author actually did reach a (somewhat) similar conclusion to that reached by Lindsey: “I think that the potential long term increase in cholesterol-related counts, despite my low carb diet, would ultimately be unsustainably unhealthy…for me.” This was on the basis of a personal case study in which he maintained his regular diet and changed nothing other than the addition of four tablespoons of grass-fed butter to his morning coffee.

Now, the author also states that he leads a healthy active lifestyle: eats mainly paleo, strength trains, and does and jiu jitsu. After removing the butter from his coffee he saw an improvement in his blood work. Even though I’m glad that his results supported our conviction that adding copious amounts of butter to one’s morning coffee is a nutritional nightmare, I still don’t think his experiment holds much credence. He admits that this was not a double-blind study. However, I don’t see this as being the issue here. The issue is that it’s an experiment with one participant. Yes, the results are interesting but they’re unlikely to be applicable to the vast majority of the population. Most people don’t consume diets similar to his. Nor do they exercise regularly. Imagine what the results of the blood panel of the average North American drinking Bulletproof coffee in an effort to lose weight would be after a month!

The only people I can see experiencing any benefit from consuming coffee with butter would be those suffering from anorexia or other conditions leading to excessive weight-loss.


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From mice and CGA to humans and coffee: I won’t be forsaking my Bodum just yet

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Now that everybody’s all in a tizzy about the latest evidence that coffee is bad for us maybe it’s time to actually look at the study. News reports are stating that “five cups of coffee or more per day linked to weight gain, increased diabetes risk”. Not exactly.

The study used mice as subjects. As discussed before, mice are not humans and results in mice may differ significantly from results in humans. In addition to this, the study didn’t actually look at coffee consumption. No, they looked at the effect of one component present in coffee. That’s like taking sugar out of an orange, giving it to mice, and then stating that oranges are making us obese. One of the greatest obstacles for the supplement industry is that individual nutrients and other substances contained in foods do not have the same effects when they’re consumed in isolation. That’s why us dietitians are always yammering on about it being best to get as many of your nutrients as you can from whole foods.

Yet another issue with the study is that they used three groups of mice: one fed a “normal diet”, a second fed a “high-fat diet”, and the third fed “a high-fat diet + CGA” (CGA is chlorogenic acid, the component in coffee that they were studying). They only looked at the effects of the CGA on mice consuming a high-fat diet. Thus, we don’t know what effects of CGA might have been on mice consuming other types of diets. Admittedly, the mice taking the CGA fared worse than the mice on the high-fat diet alone. However, as the headline pointed out, the negative consequences of CGA consumption were only seen in mice consuming the equivalent of CGA from five or more cups of coffee a day.

This study tells me that CGA in isolation, in relatively high quantities, in mice consuming high-fat diets, may contribute to weight gain and associated risks. A great deal more research is needed before we can draw any similar conclusions regarding human consumption of coffee. For now, take this dose of reality and wash it down with a good cup of coffee.


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Grocery store lessons: coffee cream

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Usually my “lessons” are about products that you should avoid. Not this time!

As much as I love having y coffee black (no, that’s not sarcasm) sometimes I like to have a little cream in it. However, calories and fat from coffee cream add up quickly: one tablespoon of 18% coffee cream will add 25 calories, 2.5 g of fat (1.5 g of which are saturated). It will also provide you with sodium and cholesterol. Enter: So Delicious’s Coconut Milk for Coffee.

This coconut milk has only 5 calories per tablespoon, 0.3 g fat (0.2 of which are saturated). No sodium. No Cholesterol. Of course, purists won’t be thrilled as along with the main ingredient of coconut milk, there’s cane syrup, colour, dibasic potassium phosphate, carrageenan, and guar gum (although it is organic). Despite these ingredients, I think that this product is a great alternative to regular creams for coffee lovers looking to save calories but not wanting to drink their coffee with low-fat milk or nothing added.

 


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I like my coffee with honey and coconut oil?!

I know that I rant about the stupid advice Dr Oz gives frequently. He just gives stupid advice frequently and I can’t let it all pass by without comment.

The other day he was doing some sort of Q&A on twitter and responded to a question from a reader:

 

What in the heck kind of suggestions are those? I’m assuming that this individual is using splenda because they’re concerned about their weight (correctly as it turned out because I sent them a tweet after seeing this). Honey, while likely a healthier choice than granulated sugar in some respects, has about the same amount of calories (actually a few more) per teaspoon as sugar. And coconut oil?! Perhaps I’m the crazy one here, but I can’t imagine that any type of oil would be a tasty or health conscious addition to a cup of coffee. Milk, while a great alternative to cream is not really an alternative to sweetener. Honestly, if you’re drinking your coffee black, you’re concerned about consuming extra calories, and you enjoy a little splenda in it then that’s a perfectly healthy option. 

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