Breakfast: Better with or without before training?

Does it matter if you skip breakfast before a workout?

When it comes to your morning training, does it matter if you skip breakfast? For some, the idea of food early in the morning isn’t appealing. Currently, one-fourth of U.S. adults feel that way, and skip breakfast. But are there benefits of working out before breakfast?

Research varies on the pros and cons of eating in the morning before resistance training (lifting weights). A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning concluded that skipping breakfast before resistance training impairs performance. The small study group of 16 trained men between the age of 23 and 27 had better results with a typical breakfast prior to squats and the bench press.

We, as humans, are hard-wired, in that eating affects the central clock in our brain. This clock controls circadian rhythms and impacts all aspects of metabolism, including how our organs function. An over-scheduled or chaotic day can certainly thwart our best intentions to eat, and to refuel to be our best.

Renowned sports nutritionist Nancy Clarke explains that skipping meals can disrupt normal biological rhythms. The result, she says, is erratic meal timing that can impact the development of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Athletes who frequently skimp breakfast often get hungry and then devour way too many calories of ice cream and cookies, she says. If this is a nightly habit, the body is poorly programmed to deal with an influx of sweets, and can pave the path to health issues. A good solution, she suggests, would be to eat part of your breakfast prior to training and enjoy the rest afterward.

In terms of weight, it doesn’t matter if you’re dividing your daily calories into one, three, six or nine meals. Calories still matter, and dividing them up throughout the day doesn’t change your body fatness. But, as noted before, it can make a difference in your blood sugar levels.

There is new research to support the old adage of breakfast being the most important meal of the day. A study of more than 4,000 middle-age adults found that those who ate breakfast were less likely to have artery-clogging plaque (atherosclerosis) than those who didn’t eat in the morning. Published in the 2017 Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the evidence supported the idea that breakfast eaters typically ate healthier overall and were less likely to be obese or to have high blood pressure, diabetes or unhealthy cholesterol levels. But even with those factors taken into account, skipping breakfast was still linked to a higher risk of atherosclerosis.

So the question remains about whether it’s sensible to skip breakfast before morning training. A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that men who performed exercise before breakfast burned double the amount of fat than the group who exercised after breakfast. While this didn’t have any effect on weight loss, it did dramatically increase their ability to respond to insulin.

In effect, exercising in an overnight-fasted state allowed their bodies to use more of the fat from their fat tissue and the fat within the muscle as a fuel. Though the study lasted only six weeks and excluded women, it showed that the muscle from the men who exercised before breakfast had greater increases in key proteins, specifically those involved in delivering glucose from the bloodstream to the muscles.

Everybody starts the day differently. Some people do better eating before a morning workout, while others do not. The choice is yours, so make it one that will energize you for this new day.

.https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/features/fitness-guru/article_a0425aca-0188-11ea-9e5c-5f5b778f0f87.html

Five essential exercises for ski training

It’s not too late to build the strength and stamina needed to hit the slopes

 

Preparation plays an important role in athletics. And now that it’s not long before the mountain opens; it’s not too late to build the strength, endurance and power needed for the demands of skiing, and decrease the risk for injury. Here are five key training tips to start off the ski season prepared, and excited for a new season.

1. Get out the door.

When it comes to having a great day on the hill, a strong cardiovascular base will make your time on the mountain fun, rather than being out of breathe and exhausted. Head out to local trails, for both steep short climbs and longer hikes, or if pressed for time, indoor cardio equipment. Try to do cardio workouts 3-5 each week, for 20-45 minutes.

2. Knee control

Squats and lunges strengthen all the muscles that stabilize and support your knees. But to do them right, you want to train the correct hip and knee angles. If you have knee cave when your bend your knees  (i.e.; your knee falls in) for example, it typically means that the gluteal medius muscles (middle butt) are weak. Single leg squats, using a band above the knee, strengthen the glutes and hips, while stabilizing the knee. This will help you improve your coordination of the whole movement and translates to better skiing. 

3.Tempo for tough legs 

Strengthening the quads and hamstrings is paramountto carving great ski turns. Front squats make your legs stronger, as these train primarily “concentric “ strength-the strength it takes to press out of the bottom of the squat. Keep doing them, as they are great. When it comes to alpine skiing though, gravity helps you down the hill. From a strength perspective, your legs first fight gravity from being forced into the hill, and then pop up, into the next turn. Adding “ eccentric” training, like “squat jumps “and “skater’s hops “ mimic ski turns. 

Eccentric is the action of a muscle lengthening: for example, remember a time hiking down a mountain that made you sore, not the hike up the mountain. In squat jumps, land, and slow down your deceleration, (about 2-3 seconds) to train eccentric leg strength. 

 

4.Dynamic balance 

Skiing is dynamic. You tip a ski (or board) onto its edge, balance your weight over that edge, and then the ski turns. Like magic. When you are skiing well, you look relaxed, fluid, and in balance. Dynamic balance also helps you react to changing snow and light. To train balance, stand on one foot for one minute, writing the alphabet with small movements of the free foot and ankle. Progress the move to standing on a BOSU,  (a half- ball) or a square of foam. 

5.Intra-abdominal pressure; your core 

A strong core makes it easier for your whole body to move together when you are carving a nice round turn. The core muscles splint the entire trunk and torso. In PT speak, the core is known as the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, and is actually 29 pairs of muscles. All of these muscles work together; the abs, hips, and lower back, to transmit and generate force between the lower and upper body.  Practice planks, with your forearms underneath your shoulders. Staying straight from your head to your heels, lift one leg upward, and hold for 2 seconds. Alternate lifting one leg at a time, for 35 seconds.

Click on link to view exercises athttps://vimeo.com/365178195

https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/features/fitness-guru/article_1ef45404-eb7c-11e9-8ecd-2f3e568fe60a.html

Are you doing it right? How to do standing bicep curls

If you needed to work on your balance, standing on one leg, say for 30 seconds, is a good exercise. A good cue would be to imagine your stance leg as a wood post, or that you cement your foot into the ground. Besides helping improve your balance, the muscles of the lower leg play a role in helping you stand on your leg. An exercise like this, standing on one leg, offers a practical carryover to a real-life situation where you just might need to be strong on one leg. A goal of strength training is not only to improve strength, but also to improve function and prevent injury.

The barbell or dumbbell bicep curl is an arm strengthener, common in resistance training. The action involves elbow flexion, or bringing the hands toward the face. Most people stand with their feet side-by-side, or parallel, to perform them. Front-loaded exercises, like the barbell biceps curls, shift the body’s center of gravity forward, outside of your base of support. What typically ends up happening is that most people sway their trunk backward to counter the added weight in front of them, lose their postural control and end up stressing the lumbar spine.

It’s always a good idea to limit compressive forces on the back. Research shows that having weights alongside the body, rather than held out front of the body at shoulder height, is much more spine-friendly.

If you think about daily activities, such as lifting a big UPS package, or carrying something in front of you, most people would lift or stand in a staggered stance, as it is more stable.  As training is meant to improve function, it makes sense to train in positions that mimic real life, not just a single muscle.

As we age, it becomes even more important to train not just muscle, but movement. Countering muscle disuse through resistance training is a powerful intervention to combat the loss of muscle strength and muscle mass. Independence, mobility, psychological well-being and healthy life expectancy are all benefits.

Lifting groceries or a basket of laundry requires not only strength and mobility, but also good postural control, much like the front-loaded bicep curl. What foot position would give you a larger base of support so you don’t fall? What foot position would give you better stability and balance when doing tasks such as lifting?

Getting back to the bicep curl, the question of which stance was better—parallel or staggered—was recently addressed by two studies at the National Strength and Conditioning Association national conference. The studies showed that the staggered stance provides a bigger base of support anteriorly. Keep in mind that any front-loaded exercise, like the bicep curl, shifts the body’s center of gravity forward. Standing in a staggered stance helps maintain overall stability and balance. It turns out that all muscle activation is the same, no matter your foot position. This includes forward-and-back trunk sway, external obliques, lumbar erector spine, front shin and side shin activity. Whatever stance, staggered or parallel, that you are most comfortable with, without back sway, is good lifting technique. Add an image such as your legs as wood posts, or Krazy glue your feet into the ground, and your bicep curls will look and feel great.https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/fitness-guru/article_a6726150-bf8f-11e9-b702-0348f49bc0a0.html

Spend a little time in nature for health; two hours a week makes the cut

Spend a little time in nature. A walk on a wooded trail, or sitting by a stream on a sunny day is good for the soul.

A walk on a wooded trail, or sitting by a stream on a sunny day is good for the soul.  Or maybe you like to collect and hold smooth stones or leaves or watch a sunset to feel alive and well. Having a connection to our natural environment improves physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Numerous studies on happiness and well-being show that time spent outside, like taking those wooded walks or simply digging up earth while gardening, can have such a positive effect on your state of mind. And the time allotted to nature doesn’t mean you have to move to a lakefront property.  A new large-scale study found that spending at least two hours a week in nature is a key dose for good health and well-being.

As humans, we are entwined with nature. Do you ever wonder why outdoor cafe patios are packed in cities and towns come springtime? Or why doctors choose realistic nature landscapes or murals in their examining rooms? Our connection to nature is deeply rooted in evolution, and as humans, we adapt so much better to natural settings than to man-made ones.  Natural light, not time in front of a screen, is therapeutic. Our stress, blood pressure and immune system are all affected positively just by being outdoors.

Research shows that we need to connect to nature to promote happiness, as there is a spiritual enhancement that is linked to the human-nature experience. People living in leafier areas, close to green space, have lower levels of stress, regardless of age, race or the socioeconomic status of their neighborhood.  Children encouraged to spend more time outside are also less prone to problems like anxiety, depression, obesity and asthma. The same benefits apply to teenagers, as well as improving their coping skills.

This very week in July, for many years, I attended a yoga retreat tucked away on 100 acres in Wyoming. Participants have the choice of staying in a big lodge, cabins, yurts or tepees. All the attendees living in urban settings told me that all year long, they looked forward to staying in the yurts or tepees. For them, being out of the city and being able to have an immersed nature experience was heaven. (I’ll be honest; I stayed in the lodge; my boyfriend and I camp most weekends.)

You can improvise a wilderness retreat, as being outdoors for a couple of hours a week can improve our well-being. The author of the study, Dr. Mat White, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said, “It’s well known that getting outdoors in nature can be good for people’s health and well-being, but until now we’ve not been able to say how much is enough. The majority of nature visits in this research took place within just 2 miles of home, so even visiting local urban green spaces seems to be a good thing. Two hours a week is hopefully a realistic target for many people.”  Think of writer Mary Davis the next time you step outside: “A walk in nature walks the soul back home.”


Connie Aronson is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist at the YMCA in Ketchum. Learn more at www.conniearonson.com.

https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/features/fitness-guru/article_e930bc12-a99b-11e9-aa57-777390b636bd.html

Stretch to stay on top of your summer game

We all want to enjoy summer to the max, and that means more time outside, doing the activities and sports that warm sunshine offers. But each sport has specific demands on your body. A stretch routine after a ride, golf game or hike can make a difference in staying up to the task, especially as you age. Flexibility can decrease as much as 50 percent in some joint areas. The good news is that this loss of motion can be minimized with a regular stretching and range-of-motion routine.

For decades, coaches have thought that pre-exercise stretching was important for their athletes, and would prevent injury or muscle soreness. However, copious research on the topic of flexibility challenges that old belief. It is thought that due to an alteration in joint connective-tissue compliance, stretching before workouts may lead to greater joint instability.

What the research shows is that stretching will help you achieve positive long-term performance outcomes when done at times other than before performance. A warmup that increases blood flow, like arm circles, or leg swings, to get a mild sweat beforehand, is a better injury prevention component.

Your post-game stretches have to be specific to target the muscles that have been stressed or overused or have a reduced range of motion. Here are some tips to ensure that you end a great day outside energized, happy and loose.

Cycling: Stretch after you get off the bike

The quads and hips are big players in cycling, used powerfully and repetitively, and stretching afterward helps combat tightness. Cycling is different from other sports in that force is primarily produced as the muscles are shortening. In cycling, the pedal stroke doesn’t use the full range of motion of the hip, knee or ankle. Running, on the other hand, bends your knees as you raise your thigh, but straightens and extends your leg to push off the ground.

Cyclists also spend a lot of time bent over in the riding position, which puts the hip flexors in a shortened position. Short, tight hip flexors add to achy hips and backs. Tight hip flexors, particularly the deep-seated psoas, can pull forward and down on the lumbar spine. When that happens, you lose an important lower back curve. No wonder your back can hurt after a long ride. Aim for post-ride hip, low-back and chest stretches. You can view those at vimeo.com/343122017.

Golfing: Get loose

Flexibility is imperative to improving your golf swing. Without flexibility, you won’t have the range of motion to unlock any of the power you already have, or are working on. Picture a golfer, at the final moment of follow-through from a fairway shot. That person is, for the most part, opened and stretched in a fluid spiral line of energy. That takes optimal range of motion in joints or groups of joints.

In just one round of golf, you end up swinging a golf club up to 300 times, including practice swings, and at speeds upward of 90 mph. That’s a lot of stress on your muscles, tendons and joints! A pre-game 5- to 10-minute warmup provides essential preparation for your game. Walking around a practice tee, leg swings or arm circles are ways to loosen up for your game. A good warm-up increases blood flow to working tissue as well as velocity of nerve impulses to muscles. It should be relatively easy, inducing a mild sweat. Stretching is recommended after your game. Click on this link for a golf-specific flexibility routine: vimeo.com/343122336.


Connie Aronson is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist at the YMCA in Ketchum. Learn more at www.conniearonson.com.https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/features/fitness-guru/article_6eacb7c8-9377-11e9-9a99-5301d856d0cc.html

Coffee’s highs and lows

Coffee may protect you against developing both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

You’re in your pajamas or sweats, and the coffee’s on. Without even trying, you’ve just done something positive, as coffee may protect you against developing both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Though it’s certainly not a cure, a new study out of the Krembil Brain Institute investigated how certain components within coffee can decrease your risk of cognitive decline.

It turns out that the roasting process of coffee beans leads to higher quantities of a compound known as phenylindanes, which act as warriors against specific protein fragments common in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The other plus to the discovery is that phenylindanes are a natural compound, one from Mother Nature, and easy to extract for further research.

A hot cup of Joe isn’t for everyone, though, and many have turned to cold coffee because they find it less acidic, and want to avoid heartburn or gastrointestinal distress. The U.S. market grew 580 percent from 2011 to 2016 to cold-brew coffee preferences, which is a no-heat long-steeping method of preparation. A new study published in Scientific Reports shows that the pH levels of both hot- and cold-brew coffee are overall quite similar, ranging from 4.5 to 5.13 for all samples tested. So switching to a cold brew shouldn’t be a “silver bullet” to avoid stomach distress, cautions one of the authors of the study, says Megan Fuller, Ph.D.

You can be pleased about the merits of your hot-brewed coffee, as it has more antioxidant capacity than cold coffee, thanks to an organic acid called titratable. And we might not even realize that we are getting beneficial antioxidants in our diet, as, according to the National Coffee Association, 64 percent of Americans 18 and over drink at least one cup of coffee a day, with an average daily consumption of 3.2 cups. If you enjoy breakfast tea, you are consuming less than 150 milligrams of caffeine, compared with the nearly 500 milligrams in the same amount of brewed coffee.

Kids and caffeine: What are the risks?

Children are vulnerable to the effects of caffeine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t want them ever touching the stuff. Or energy drinks. Because they weigh less than adults, when they do consume caffeine, its concentration in the body is higher per kilogram of body weight, and can cause headaches, dehydration, nervousness and difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Furthermore, its effects will last longer than the three to seven hours it takes for an adult to break down caffeine.

Bittersweet Addiction

We shouldn’t really like coffee, as it’s bitter, but weirdly, reports show that the more sensitive you are to the bitter taste of coffee, the more of it you drink. By evolutionary logic, you would typically spit out something that was bitter and might harm you. But a new study of more than 400,000 men and women in the U.K. suggests that the positive reinforcement, namely the stimulant elicited by caffeine, negates the bitterness, and instead, triggers our reward center. We associate “good things with it.”

Coffee or tea, that’s a daily habit that you could feel good about.

https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/features/fitness-guru/article_35f127de-f42b-11e8-a3aa-33f96aed3c2e.html

Beat the heat with hydration

    Water is essential for life, as it makes up 60 percent of the average person’s bodyweight. Before we go on and talk about the importance of hydration in the summer, and how to monitor your hydration status, go ahead and grab a big glass of water, because if you’re like me, always forgetting to bring my water bottle to work, you might be dehydrated.

    Looking at urine color is the quickest way to monitor hydration. Clear to light yellow color indicates adequate hydration, while darker colors, as in the doc’s hued color charts, indicates dehydration. Keep in mind that certain vitamins and supplements can make the color of urine not representative of hydration level. For example, high doses of vitamin B can cause neon yellow pee, or vitamin C or riboflavin that contain carotene can cause yellow to orange colors.

 This year’s three-week race had many days over 86 degrees, and starting and ending the day hydrated was key. With all the time spent outside this summer, it is important to do the same. You want to have adequate hydration throughout the day—make it a habit throughout the day and not just before or after exercise.

    On any given hot day, the heat and dry conditions contribute to the water our bodies lose and needs to be replaced. A common recommendation regarding how much water you should drink is eight eight-ounce cups a day. That’s easy to remember, and a reasonable goal, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, everyone is different, and the actual amount of water needed depends on a number of factors, such as heat and humidity, and individual differences, including sweat rate, body mass and exercise intensity and duration.

    Signs of dehydration are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Dry skin
  • Urine darker than normal

    Make it a habit to carry a bottle of water with you. If you have a water bottle labeled with volume measurements, put rubber bands around the bottom of it. Every time you finish a bottle, slide the rubber band to the top to help remind you to drink throughout the day. Remember also that all foods have some water in them, especially summer fruit and vegetables. What a good way to stay healthy and hydrated!

Printed in the Idaho Mountain Express August 3, 2018 https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/features/fitness-guru/article_0c8ba828-9685-11e8-88e5-63d01c110e57.html

Deep sleep for glowing health

    Starting as early as 30, improving the quality and quantity of sleep can eliminate future risk of memory loss and a wide range of mental and physical disorders. UC Berkeley researchers think that nearly every disease killing us in later life has a causal link to lack of sleep.

    If you have trouble sleeping more now than when you were younger, don’t worry that this is how your nights will be from here out. Generally, you will be able to fall back asleep as fast as you used to with a strategy. Researchers find that the aging brain has trouble generating the kind of slow brain waves that promote deep restorative sleep, called deep non-rapid eye movement. This time-out for the brain helps sort the unimportant to important information from the hippocampus, to the prefrontal cortex, which consolidates information into long-term storage.

Here are some suggestions to how you can get the sleep you need:

Daytime routine

 Caffeine: Generally, caffeine lasts for five to six hours in the body. Try to not have caffeine later than mid-afternoon.

  Naps: Naps are great, but no later than mid-afternoon.

  Late-night eating: Try to avoid eating less than three hours before bedtime or overeating at dinner.

Evening routine

 Minimize screen time: Turn off your iPhone, iPad and TV to minimize screen time.

Bedroom: Have your bedroom quiet and dark, and a cool temperature. Core body temperature drops with the onset of sleep, but then increases because of a greater blood flow to the skin, so have comfortable bedding. Around 9 p.m., your body produces melatonin, which helps control your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is a natural hormone made by the pineal gland, located just above the middle of the brain. When the sun goes down, the pineal turn on signals in the brain that controls hormones, body temperature and other functions that play a role in making us sleepy or very awake. Its transmission is better promoted in a dark environment. Melatonin level stays elevated typically throughout the night, and drops before the light of a new day. When traveling, pack an eye mask and earplugs.

    Meditate in bed: Promote relaxation by relaxing as much as you can once you get into bed. It takes practice, but focus on slow, quiet breathing. A simple breathing practice can consist of only a few minutes to reconnect to mind, body and spirit. Keep focusing on your breath, and let any thoughts go. If you start to think about things, give yourself credit for noticing that your mind has wandered, and return to gentle breathing.


 Connie Aronson is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist at the YMCA in Ketchum. Learn more at www.conniearonson.com.

Published in the Idaho Mountain Express May 5, 2017

More good news for coffee drinkers


More good news for coffee drinkers

Caffeine could protect against dementia

    Caffeine is one of the strongest of 24 compounds that Indiana University scientists recently identified that can protect against dementia. Caffeine boosts an enzyme in the brain, called NMNAT2, that guards neurons from stress and combats the formation of plaques due to aging. Plaques, tangled and oddly folded proteins, called tau, have been linked to debilitating neurological  disorders  such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Lou Gerhig’s diseases. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common condition, affects 1 in 9 people over age 65—almost 5.5 million people—and the numbers are expected to grow as our population ages. As scientists continue to identify compounds that could play a role in halting the deterioration of proteins in the brain, don’t feel bad about your coffee fix.

 Golf performance, fatigue, and caffeine

    From an intensity perspective, the physiological demands of playing 18 holes are half the energy expenditure of running. But competitive golfing can be mentally and physically exhausting. Critical shot-making decisions, hand–eye coordination, high-level motor and biomechanical skill and numerous maximum-effort shots all play a role in competitive golf. Caffeine is one of the most common go-to ergogenic aids for elite athletes, and that extra jolt of caffeine might help improve concentration, energy, reaction time, fatigue and overall confidence during an 18-hole round. A recent study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise suggests that caffeine-containing supplements before or during golf can improve iron club accuracy, drive distance and overall golf scores.

The buzz on health risks and benefits

    Coffee keeps us awake or makes up for inadequate sleep, and has been revered for just that as far back as the sixth century. However, caffeine’s ability to stimulate the central nervous system doesn’t hide the fact that it is still a drug. Some people are genetically more susceptible and don’t enjoy the jittery effects of it.

    But the good news is that it can be a good habit. Recent scientific studies show that coffee shines from a cardiovascular standpoint in that it can decrease the onset of type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. More so than fruits and vegetables, coffee is the No. 1 source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet, having more antioxidants than blueberries, raspberries or green tea. Your morning joe (or tea, coming in second) contains large amounts of several powerful antioxidants, including phenols and polyphenol compounds that help neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress.

    The bottom line is that if you enjoy it, moderate caffeine use offers much from an overall cardiovascular standpoint and numerous health benefits.


 Connie Aronson is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist at the YMCA in Ketchum. Learn more at www.conniearonson.com.

Published in the Idaho Mountain Express April 7, 2017

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Coffee counts when it comes to staying hydrated

A recent study from the University of Birmingham has found no significant difference in subjects’ hydration status when they were drinking coffee versus water. Courtesy photo by Connie Aronson.

A recent study from the University of Birmingham has found no significant difference in subjects’ hydration status when they were drinking coffee versus water. Courtesy photo by Connie Aronson.

In the  wonderful ending from Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” he lists certain things that make life worth living: Groucho Marx, the second movement of the Juniper Symphony, Marlon Brando. For me, the smell of morning coffee that my boyfriend  makes first thing has to be on that list. Ah. There is now more good news on the positive effects of coffee on health, and the once held belief that coffee dehydrates isn’t so.

A recent study from the University of Birmingham has found no significant difference in subjects’ hydration status when they were drinking coffee versus water. Courtesy photo by Connie Aronson.
A recent study from the University of Birmingham has found no significant difference in subjects’ hydration status when they were drinking coffee versus water. Courtesy photo by Connie Aronson.

It turns out your morning Joe not only gets you going and boosts alertness, but is as hydrating as water. That’s good news for those 1.6 billion cups of coffee enjoyed worldwide on any given day.

In a new study from the University of Birmingham in the UK , participants drank about three and one-third cups of coffee per day for three days in a row.  Then they drank the same amount of water for three consecutive days. Controlling for physical activity and food and fluid intake, the researchers compared a wide range of markers (total body water, body mass measurements, kidney function, urine volume, and blood values) and found no significant difference in the subjects’ hydration status when they were drinking coffee versus water.

Although the study sample is small (50 adult men who were habitual coffee-drinkers), its findings echo similar previously collected data regarding the relationship between moderate caffeine consumption and hydration.

It’s important to stay hydrated and drink fluids throughout the day, and water is still a good first choice. After all, water is essential for life, as it transports nutrients, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, helps preserve cardiovascular function and aids with weight management.

A typical adult needs anywhere from 11 cups of water per day for females to 16 cups for males, according to The Institute of Medicine Water Intake Recommendation. Diet, ( i.e. that bunch of grapes, or apple, full of water) physical activity level, age and environmental conditions (such as humidity) all effect proper hydration levels. For example, colder days impact urine output, and more intense activity increases water loss.

However, during these cold months, remember not to go overboard on the hot chocolate, cream, and mocha’s just yet. It is the coffee itself, not just the caffeine, that is so unique.

Coffee contains hundreds of different chemical compounds. The Coffea plant’s roasted berries, ( they’re not actually beans), has a very strong antioxidant capacity, more so than blueberries or broccoli. It’s benefits are many, including a positive impact on memory, recently published in Nature Neuroscience. Coffee drinkers compared to non-coffee drinkers are also protected from dementia and Parkinson’s as they age, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancers and stroke.

While having lots of coffee isn’t recommended for everyone, for some of us, it’s a great way to start a perfect day.

http://theketchumkeystone.org/2014/02/06/commentary-coffee-counts-when-it-comes-to-staying-hydrated/