Does Drinking Coffee Stunt Body Growth?

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question-icon-newI heard that coffee stunts body growth. I’m 16 years old and I started weight training a few months ago to help build more muscle and get bigger. I’m only 5’7″ tall and would like to both grow taller and fill out my body over the next few years. Will drinking coffee slow my body growth in any way?

answer-icon-newCongratulations on starting a weight training program! Unfortunately, the state of our school exercise programs for our children is almost nonexistent due to the loss of many physical education classes in the majority of the schools across the United States. Public schools say they just don’t have the money to fund every subject in their schools and they need to cut PE classes due to this lack of funds. However, it’s very ironic that huge corporations such as soft drink and fast food companies pay the schools millions of dollars every year to have their high sugar soda machines in the hallways and their greasy fast food items on the menus in the lunch room. So, when you combine the lack of physical exercise with high calorie foods, it’s no wonder why we have an obesity epidemic among our children. Today, children as young as 10 years old are having issues with Type 2 diabetes which was unheard of many years ago. We need to make changes within our country and the first step is to have children include regular physical exercise into their daily routine, so I applaud you for taking this big step by including weight training in yours!

Nutrition is extremely important for young kids like yourself and your question about coffee is a very interesting one. There is no compelling evidence that coffee actually stunts growth, but it’s generally a bad idea for kids to drink a lot of coffee due to the caffeine content. If you absolutely love coffee, 1-2 cups per day is not going to do any harm but make sure to limit any other sources of caffeine such as sodas and ice tea.

Some Negative Effects of Caffeine Include:

  • Spikes insulin levels which can results in weight gain due to overeating.
  • Interferes with sleep habits which can have a negative effect on muscle growth.
  • Exacerbates hyperactivity (make you “wired” from the stimulant).
  • Contributes to dehydration since it’s a diuretic (causes the body to eliminate water).

The positive side of drinking coffee and benefiting from the caffeine is with your workouts. Caffeine can help delay fatigue, contribute to increased alertness and faster reaction time and give you a mental boost famous for helping athletes get through vigorous training sessions. Since you have been weight training for a few months, you have most likely heard or read about pre-workout supplements like nitric oxide and others. The basic ingredient of many of these supplements is caffeine since it gives you a big “jolt” for your workouts. However, many of these pre-workout supplements pack a ton of caffeine into a single serving (compared to drinking as much as 5 cups of coffee) which will not only get you totally “wired” but will probably make you crash hard after your workout and might give you a massive panic attack during your workout if you have any underlying anxiety issues.

A better option is to drink all natural green tea instead of coffee to get your stimulant fix during the day or before your workouts. Green tea is a powerful antioxidant and some researchers have suggested that green tea is 200 times more effective than Vitamin E! So, if you’re craving a hot drink try a cup of green tea instead of coffee and see if you like it.

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