Is Coffee Paleo?: The Ultimate Question for the Caffeine Queen

By on December 12, 2014
Some rights reserved by trophy geek

Some rights reserved by trophy geek


I’m coming to you with perhaps the most riveting question of all: is coffee Paleo?

I’ve been a persistent coffee drinker for every second of my adult life. (If the “adult life” begins the moment you roll out of your dorm room bed on your first morning, aching in a I-miss-my-childhood kind of way.)

And I’ve loved the lifestyle. I’ve drank black coffee in corners of University libraries. I’ve drank café au lait at my favorite little writing café in the first arrondissement. I’ve dunked (non-Paleo, sorry) cookies into delicious cups of joe in the most desperate situations. And yet–all that time–I was never really sure about coffee. I didn’t mistrust it, really. I just never looked into it.

But this week, for whatever reason, I finally found the answers.

Is coffee Paleo? Technically not.

Note the following: a full ninety percent of adults in North America consume coffee every single day. (Because the French people do pretty much whatever they want, all the time, I’m sure an inspiring one hundred percent of them find their caffeine fix every day. A French family I once babysat for in the eleventh actually had their own espresso maker–that I never truly mastered. But I digress.)

However, how many of those ninety percent actually think about what their coffee is? I’m talking bare-bones, no-dairy, no sugar nonsense. What is that black stuff?

Coffee is formulated from, well, a bean. The coffee bean. (My research shows that it’s actually is a “seed” of the coffee tree, which puts us into weird Paleo territory. Beans are BAD but seeds are good.) Generally speaking, coffee beans are grown way down south, by the equator. After the beans are harvested, they are roasted and brewed to create black coffee.

But is this bean-seed okay to digest?

When coffee enters your system, it acts as a stimulant. That means, naturally, that it annihilates your fatigue. (It blocks some neurons in your brain–neurons that are generally “triggered” to make you fall asleep. But all of that is generally complicated and best-explained by my neuroscientist best-friend-smarty-pants, Kelsey. Who, I’m sad to say, is blog-less. I digress.)

Unfortunately, this coffee stuff can force your body to begin creating cortisol, which is a stress hormone that ultimately inflames much of your body. (Note that inflammation is the very base-line of all diseases. Your cells die out on a DNA-level, which can ultimately lead to cancer.) When you have high levels of cortisol, you have difficulty losing weigh, managing your stress, and sleeping.

What’s more? Coffee, if drunk too often, can inflame your intestines and often create leaky gut syndrome. 

Okay: so the question–is coffee Paleo–is sort of answered with a resounding no.

But coffee does have many benefits that could make it a beneficial element of your still-Paleo morning. (I’m still clinging hard to that cup-of-joe.)

Benefits of Black Coffee

1. It boosts exercise performance.

Often, I drink about two cups of coffee in the hours before I exercise. I don’t take in any food (which some experts might tell you is bad for you, but it’s been working really, really well for my four mile runs). I feel insanely great with just coffee in my system. My mind is clear, and my muscles are working.

2. It boosts cognitive performance.

According to research, coffee can boost your recall time and your reaction time. (Maybe that’s way consistent coffee drinkers are such fast talkers?)

3. Coffee can protect your heart.

Recent research shows that consistent coffee drinking can actually protect you on a cardiovascular level.

Okay, okay. So if you want to live a top-tier Paleo lifestyle, you might want to eliminate coffee from your morning ritual. You’ll avoid a good deal of stress, and you’ll eliminate a good deal of inflammation on a cellular level.

But if you’re able to decrease the amount of coffee you currently drink (like I’m going to try to do), you can still keep coffee in your life.

Is coffee Paleo? Is Paleo coffee? Now we know. And we will begrudgingly head into an unknown future, a very, very small cup of joe in our hands.


About Megan White

Megan White is a Paleo diet food fanatic running around the world, searching for the most nutritional tasty treats in every country she can find. Follow her on her journey as she dodges sugar cravings, works to better her mind and body, and picks up some creative Paleo diet recipes along the way.

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