Nutrition Q&A

Nutrition Q&A: Does Coffee Count as Water?

Personally, I have always advised that caffeinated beverages not count towards fluid totals as caffeine is a diuretic. Also, this challenge is designed to show people how to assess their own behaviors and move towards healthier choices. We hope that the participants are able to conclude that water is a healthier option than diet soda or coffee for hydration.

Nutrition Q&A 3/26/21

Question from Michael:

Hi Gillian, As a Barbell Logic client and someone interested in gaining strength, I am trying to keep my calories at a slight surplus (as suggested by my coach).
I am 5’10” and about 150lb. I find it a little challenging to get over 2,000 calories per day, but I don’t mind trying. The challenge I have is that I often experience sort of an inflamed feeling in my lower digestive tract. It’s not awful, but it affects my appetite and my metabolism. This is something that I have dealt with most of my life.

Answer

Michael, while I don’t know the specifics of what causes intestinal distress for you, food intolerance is a fairly common issue. Often, digestive issues are caused by eating something that doesn’t agree with our particular digestive system; however, we want to rule out any medical conditions first. Common medical conditions that affect digestion include GERD, gastritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, and gallstones. Many of these conditions can be treated either partially or in some cases completely by dietary changes once properly diagnosed.

My advice would be to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist to get to the bottom of your unique situation. Many people rush to simultaneously eliminate wheat, all gluten, dairy, nuts, corn, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables, eggs, seafood, alcohol, and refined sugars. While these foods are linked to the most common food intolerances, it is quite an extensive list. The question then becomes, what can you eat when you eliminate all of those things?! This becomes even more challenging in your situation where you are trying to eat at a surplus and put on muscle.

Perhaps while waiting to get in with your doctor, consider journaling everything that you eat and see if you can find a correlation between a specific food or type of food and your symptoms. Examine variables and ask questions:

  • Does it matter how much you eat at once?
  • How many minutes or hours later do you have the symptoms?
  • What are the exact symptoms?

It also helps if you know exactly what is in your food as you may be sensitive to something that you are not even aware of that might be an ingredient. Challenge yourself to eat only foods that you prepare for the next week.

I’ll bet that within a few days of detailed journaling that you start to be able to identify foods that trigger your symptoms. This food journal will be a helpful thing to share with the doctor as well. Diagnosing a food sensitivity is akin to finding a needle in a haystack if you have no idea where to begin.

It is believed that up to 20% of the population has some type of food sensitivity. The good news is that there is no magical food, and even if one or more foods get eliminated, you will be able to find others to take their place and help you reach your goals. Once you start feeling better, you should have no problem reaching your calorie target with nutritious foods, thus putting you in a better place to make gains on the scale and under the bar.

Question from Kurt:

Just FYI…the quantity of water that we are assigned to drink [in the Take Charge with 10 Challenge] (125 ounces in my case) is exactly the same fluid intake as recommended by Mayo Clinic, the difference being that they also count coffee, tea, diet soda, and water content of food in the recommended total. I would be curious to know why these sources of water don’t count for the Barbell Logic Challenge.

Answer

While creating this challenge, I carefully examined all of the water guidelines and recommendations from the most credible sources in medicine and health, including the USDA, CDC, and the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, I examined recommendations from the fitness industry that were geared towards a more active population. An exact water total can never be given since there are too many factors contributing to one’s individual needs, including activity level, perspiration rate, environment, age, sex, health status, medications, and so on.

We chose the recommendation of half your body weight in ounces as a suggested guideline based on summarizing the diversity of our findings, our professional experience as coaches, and choosing an amount of water that is safe and supports the bigger picture of what we are trying to accomplish through this challenge.

In the later days of the challenge, we address caffeine consumption and all of the additional ingredients that we consume via caffeinated beverages, such as added sugars and fats, artificial sweeteners, colors, and various chemical compounds. Our intent was that if we asked the participants to focus on water, they might begin to substitute water for other beverages like diet sodas, energy drinks, and juices as they went through the days of the challenge, including reducing added sugars and cutting out caffeine six hours before bed.

Personally, I have always advised that caffeinated beverages not count towards fluid totals as caffeine is a diuretic. Also, this challenge is designed to show people how to assess their own behaviors and move towards healthier choices. We hope that the participants are able to conclude that water is a healthier option than diet soda or coffee for hydration.

Thank you again for the question. We have the greatest respect for the recommendations of the Mayo Clinic and never advise against them. We are offering an alternative recommendation while addressing the synergy of ten healthy behaviors at one time.


Coach Gillian Ward is Barbell Logic’s Director of Nutrition. She has spent a lifetime as a high-performing athlete, coach, and fitness and nutrition educator. If you have a question for Coach Gillian that you’d like to see answered in future issues of the Friday Five Newsletter, please fill out the form below.

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