Caffeine is the most widely used performance enhancer, nootropic and fat burning drug ever known to humanity. It is an alkaloid compound which is found in tea and coffee plants.
Caffeine is most commonly consumed for its stimulatory effects on the central nervous system which helps boost your alertness and eliminate your drowsiness. We gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts use it due to its metabolism boosting abilities, increased physical output and mental focus.
Before we get into the advantages and drawbacks of caffeine consumption, let’s look at some interesting facts-
- At least 68 million Americans drink three cups of coffee every single day. Imagine what the worldwide count would be.
- Caffeine is a not a regulated substance so manufacturers are not legally required to label their products with caffeine content. Many studies suggest that caffeine is the most widely used stimulant in the world.
- Many caffeine users don’t realize that it is actually added to drinks like colas and other sodas. It is suggested by some that this is done because caffeine is addicting, the way cigarette manufacturers add addictive substances in order to keep their customer base.
- The effects of caffeine on a person’s system can usually be felt within minutes of consuming it. Its peak effectiveness typically takes around 30 minutes, and the substance requires three to six hours to leave the body. This is one reason it’s often recommended that a person stop drinking caffeinated beverages in the afternoon, so the body has time to flush it out of the system before trying to fall asleep at night.
- In low doses, caffeine has been shown to improve one’s cognitive functions, increasing alertness.
Pro’s of caffeine consumption
- Caffeine consumption and physical performance. Have a cup of black coffee about an hour before workout and your performance can improve by approximately 11-12%. Caffeine increases adrenaline levels in your blood. Adrenaline is your body’s “fight or flight” hormone which helps you to prepare for physical exertion.
- Coffee could potentially help you with weight loss. Caffeine is an excellent appetite suppressant and coffee contains magnesium and potassium, which helps the human body use insulin, regulating blood sugar levels and reducing your craving for sugary treats and snacks.
- Coffee helps you burn fat. Caffeine helps fat cells break down body fat through increased fat oxidation and use it as fuel for training.
- Coffee helps you focus and stay alert. Moderate caffeine intake, 1-4 cups a day, helps you focus and improves your mental alertness.
- Coffee reduces risk of cancers. One study has shown that coffee may decrease the risk of developing prostate cancer in men by 20 %, and endometrial cancer in women by 25 %. People in the test group drank four cups of coffee a day. Caffeine may also prevent developing of basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer
- Coffee reduces risk of stroke and type II diabetes. Reasonable consumption of coffee (2 cups a day) is associated with lower risk of stroke. Caffeine decreases your insulin sensitivity and impairs glucose tolerance, therefore reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Coffee reduces risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’sdisease. Studies have shown that regular coffee drinking decreases risk of Parkinson’s disease by 25 %. There’s evidence that coffee causes activity in the part of the brain affected by Parkinson’s. Caffeine is also associated with lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Coffee protects your body. Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants that work as little warriors fighting and protecting against free radicals within your body.
- Coffee brightens your mood, helps fight depression and lowers risk of suicide. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and boosts production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, which elevate your mood. Two cups of coffee a day prevents risk of suicide by 50 %.
Cons of caffeine consumption
- Coffee can cause insomnia and restlessness. Again, it’s the caffeine working here. Your recommended maximum amount of caffeine is 400 milligrams, roughly the amount that you’ll get from 4 cups of coffee. If you’re caffeine-sensitive, be careful with coffee. You are probably already aware what amount and what kind of coffee suits, or doesn’t suit you. The amount of caffeine that is safe for human consumption is actually written in our DNA.
- Don’t drink more than one cup a day if you’re pregnant. Studies on coffee’s effect on a fetus have been controversial, but one thing is sure: if you drink coffee when pregnant, caffeine will also reach the fetus, and your baby is highly sensitive to caffeine. So, if you’re a heavyweight coffee drinker and can’t stop drinking it while pregnant, at least reduce your coffee intake to one cup a day.
- If you have high cholesterol, opt for filtered coffee. Coffee beans contain cafestol and kahweol, two ingredients that appear to raise LDL cholesterol levels. Filtering the coffee traps most of the LDL, but cafestol and kahweol are found in espresso, turkish coffee, french press and scandinavian style “cooked coffee”.
- Caffeine is addictive. This is one of the major concerns when it comes to caffeine consumption. Caffeine has been found to be almost as addictive as smoking, and an addiction could lead to excess consumption, which in turn could be extremely harmful. Caffeine in large doses have been shown to be fatal in the long run.
- Caffeine tolerance. The human body is extremely adaptive and can build up a tolerance to caffeine very quickly. This means that you would have to consume more caffeine over a period of time to get the same focus and physical output as you did when you first consumed caffeine. Tolerance can be reduced drastically by abstaining from any form of caffeine consumption for a month.
How much and when should caffeine be consumed?
Caffeine dosages are very individual-specific. If you are new to caffeine, start with a 100mg dose (typically found in 1 cup of coffee). For fat loss and improved physical performance 200mg of caffeine is the norm, while acute strength increases occur at higher doses.
In conclusion, caffeine is a relatively safe compound as long as it is used responsibly and the consumer does not have any pre-existing health conditions. A cup of coffee a day can improve your quality of life and the pro’s outweigh the cons when it comes to caffeine.