Last updated on April 12th, 2017
Early on in my low-carb adventure, I ran across the advice to stop drinking coffee. That nearly ended my low-carb adventure right then. There are some things you can’t give up. Coffee’s at the top of my list.
Repeat after me, friends: “Coffee is life, life is coffee.”
That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
Coffee is low-carb — right?
There are carbs in black coffee — about a tenth of a gram in a cup. S0 coffee is low-carb, though not quite as low-carb as plain water. In fact, black coffee has very little in terms of macro-nutrients of any kind. So why would low-carb dieters be told to avoid the wonder brew?
I’m not sure where I first encountered the out-dated “don’t drink coffee” advice; it may have been in the 1992 edition of Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution. In Chapter 15, Atkins wrote, “Stay out of the java jungle. Excessive caffeine . . . has been shown to cause a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) reaction, which will provoke carvings and cause you to over eat.” The good doctor went to say that giving up coffee might be a “big sacrifice for you,” but necessary for weight loss.
A “big sacrifice”? I’ll say! Let’s review: “Coffee is life, life is coffee.”
I’d rather stay fat — even put on more pounds — than give up my java.
Leave me here in the jungle, doc. I’ll be fine.
Well, Dr. Atkins was a great man, but nobody’s perfect. He based his anti-joe advice on the best science of the time. Twenty years later, we know better. The Atkins web site now says that when it comes to coffee, drink up: “Recent research shows absolutely no relationship between caffeine and blood sugar. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy a couple of cups of full-strength Java or other caffeinated beverages as part of your eight daily cups of fluid.”
That’s right — not only does the current version of the Atkins Diet allow you to drink coffee, but it even counts it as part of your minimum daily fluid intake, citing the latest guidelines from the Institute of Medicine.
However, the limit is two cups of coffee per day, at least as far as counting as part of your daily fluid intake goes. Two cups of coffee is the minimum for me, not the maximum, but I drink plenty of water, too.
Coffee is life
Drinking coffee is a pleasurable experience. It’s a form of snacking, and may prevent a person from munching away on high-carb goodies.
Dr. Jonny Bowden (PhD, CNS), in his 2010 book Living Low Carb, puts it this way: “While coffee is obviously a stimulant, drinking it is also a very pleasant experience for a lot of people, and that has to factored into the mix.”
But coffee isn’t merely a pleasant snack. What we need to factor into the mix, Dr. Bowden, is that “coffee is life, life is coffee.”
Any questions, smart guy?
I’m working on my fifth cup of life right now.
Another question is what to put in your coffee if anything. Generally avoid putting lots more carbs in coffee, and instead add fat.
When I had my first cup — about 40 years ago, at the counter of a hole-in-the-wall diner down at the end of our street — I drank it black. That was how my parents drank it.
Eventually, I started putting milk or creamer in my coffee. Usually, it was a non-dairy creamer because it had less saturated fat than half-and-half. What can I say — I was in the grip of Conventional Diet Wisdom! (I shudder when I think of all the soy oil I poured into the elixir of life.)
I never used sugar, but in recent years, I sometimes used one of those sweetened and flavored non-dairy creamers.
Today, I use either half-and-half or heavy cream. My wife always drank her coffee whitened and sweetened, but now drinks it with only heavy cream. In terms of carbs and taste, heavy cream is the better deal, and makes a cup of coffee a true low-carb, high-fat delight. But half-and-half has only a gram of carbohydrate per two tablespoons (which is more than I put in), is cheaper, and often the best you can do in a restaurant.
When I am reheating a cup in the microwave, I usually drink it black. For some reason, reheated coffee tastes and looks better to me if I have it sans cream.
Of course, I do reheat coffee because it would be a sin to let a drop go to waste.
You wouldn’t waste life, would you?