May 10, 2014 | Hot Topics

Caffeine – Friend or Foe?

Oh sweet caffeine. How I love you. I have no idea how I would function without my morning cup of joe. But coffee has been somewhat controversial in the media when it comes to health. Well, not just coffee, but caffeine in general. Is it good or bad for you? Does it really cause dehydration? Does it help or hurt a workout? There’s a lot to sift through. Here is a quick 4-1-1 on the subject.


In studies that showed a dehydration effect of caffeine, participants were given a large dose of caffeine, like 3-4 cups of coffee or 10 cups of tea (at once!). Also, those studies show pronounced effect in people who aren’t regulars. Meaning they normally don’t have caffeine, then they suddenly down half a pot of coffee one morning 🙂 So if coffee is new to you, consider drinking a cup of water for every cup of coffee. But if you’re consuming your normal amount, it probably won’t impact your hydration status.

Athletic Performance:

Caffeine may improve performance due to its overall stimulant effects. Almost like that adrenaline burst you get before performing. Also, caffeine has been linked to a decrease in perceived effort of exercise. Again, similar to adrenaline. Additionally, there is some evidence  caffeine can encourage the body to use fat as energy instead of carbohydrates or protein. Latest evidence shows that moderate caffeine usage does not cause an electrolyte imbalance. Bottom line: a cup of coffee before a workout is a plus.


Research continues to show us that coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from certain chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. These are both somewhat surprising finds, since drinking regular coffee causes a short-term spike in both blood pressure and blood sugar. Interesting fact? It seems that there isn’t a difference in these disease prevention benefits whether you drink decaf or regular. So it’s not the caffeine itself that has the benefit. Enter the “X factor”.

The X Factor:

Whole foods are more complicated than individual nutrients. Coffee is more than caffeine. It is actually the largest source of antioxidants in the standard American diet, and a good source of magnesium. The way you prepare it (strength, French press vs. drip, etc) can also impact the effect of these other characteristics.


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends limiting your caffeine intake to 300 mg per day when pregnant. This is about 1-2 servings of coffee, tea or soda. Keep in mind that the strength of the coffee or tea will make a big difference. There is mixed research on the effects of caffeine during pregnancy, but nothing that indicates caffeine should be avoided altogether.


How you prepare your coffee, and how you take it matters. Most studies are done on filtered coffee, which is different than espresso and French press styles, which don’t filter out the oils. Drinking black coffee is really different than with sugar and cream, or a fancy specialty drink!

Want to learn more about pregnancy or prenatal nutrition?
Schedule your free discovery call today!

1 Comment

  1. Amari Thomsen

    I am proud to say, after my 21 day "no-caffeine" challenge, I have been reunited with my morning cup of coffee! 🙂 You have reassured me I should have never given it up in the first place! Ha! Great article!


Motherhood doesn’t have to be so complicated. Schedule your free discovery call today!



I’m Katie Goldberg (AKA The Pregnancy Dietitian), mom of 2 little humans, health coach, and registered dietitian nutritionist. I can guide you through the research and best practices (and avoid all the B.S.) to help you confidently nourish your body and your baby during this unique season of life.

Get your Free guide!


Not all prenatals are equal and deciding which is best for you can be difficult.

Download my FREE guide to help simplify the process.


The Ultimate Guide to Prenatal Vitamins

The Ultimate Guide to Prenatal Vitamins

It’s probably not news to you that you should take a prenatal vitamin. Many OB/GYNs encourage taking one before you are pregnant, and it’s certainly addressed at the first appointment. But beyond “you should take one,” do you really know how to choose one? How do you...

Protein Needs During Pregnancy

Protein Needs During Pregnancy

Did you know that protein needs increase during pregnancy? Since many women experience some form of food aversions or nausea, getting in enough protein can feel a bit daunting. Let's talk about how much protein you really need, and how to make that happen when you're...

How Much Water Should You Drink During Pregnancy?

How Much Water Should You Drink During Pregnancy?

We've all heard that it's important to stay hydrated. But how much water should you drink during pregnancy? Does that 8 glasses a day rule still apply? And do other liquids count, or just water? Once again, something that has always felt pretty simple, is suddenly...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This