The "BUZZ" about Caffeine
You wake up… what is the first thing most people reach for when they get to their kitchen? Well that’s an easy one, COFFEE. Either with our Keurig, coffee pot or old school French press we get that hot water going, so we can start sipping that first delicious cup. Then on the way to work we stop at Starbucks, grab that frappe chocolate-mocha-caramel-vanilla bean, sweet drink with an extra shot of espresso to get us ready for the commute to work. Mid-day we hit a wall, head to the break room, snag an energy drink or 5hour energy, slam that and then back to work. Now what do all of these drinks have in common? Besides sugar, we will cover that later. It’s CAFFEINE! Interestingly enough this is the majority of the population’s daily routine. As a society we consume an immense amount of caffeine just to keep up with the hustle and bustle of our modern day society. According to WebMD 68% of Americans admit to being addicted to coffee and caffeine containing drinks.
The purpose of this post is not to steer you away from caffeine it is solely to educate you on the pros and cons of caffeine and to provide an understanding as to why we ingest so much. The reason why our caffeine consumption continues to rise is because caffeine has such a high tolerance. By this we mean, the more you take the more you need. Over time our receptors will become desensitized to high quantities of caffeine. So that one cup of coffee turns into two cups and then to three cups. As we intake more just to get the same desired effect our body then requires more. The best way to aid in this tolerance increase is to take breaks. I know, I know, call me crazy but this will help keep your body in check and maybe even lower your Starbucks bill. Every 30-60 days take a 10 day break. This will allow your body to flush your receptors and it will lower the tolerance, so when you have that next cup after your break it is like having it for the first time!
So before we splash into the pros and cons of our caffeine addiction lets cover what is a reasonable amount of caffeine to be ingested within a 24 hour period. A safe amount of caffeine before experiencing any adverse effects is 300-400mg per day. One cup of coffee is about 60-100mg, a standard energy drink is 180-200mg, a 5hour energy is about 200mg. Now 300-400mg is a lot of caffeine but I know some pre-workouts that contain 300mg per scoop, that’s very high and when consuming these types of products it is important to understand the importance of monitoring your consumption from other sources like coffee or soft drinks. With an understanding of a healthy/safe amount we must remember the tolerance effect. The more we take, the more we need, this 300-400mg can creep up pretty quick.
Okay the pros and cons. Why do we love coffee, energy drinks and caffeine so much?
- Improve memory
- Improve focus and mental function
- Elevates mood
- Decreases fatigue
- Increases fat burning- it is a thermogenic (raises body temperature, due to increase in metabolic rate)
- Curbs appetite- coffee beans contain cholinomimetics that decrease hunger
- Most caffeinated drinks contain high amounts of sugar- can lead to weight gain
- Increased tolerance- more you take the more you need
- Increase in blood pressure, although temporary it increases blood pressure all the same
- Headaches and other withdraw symptoms occur when ingestion ceases
Who knew there was so much involved with this one simple cup of jo right? We hope to have provided you with a better understanding of caffeine and what all the “buzz” is about. The big takeaways here: caffeine is completely healthy and safe in moderate consumption (300-400mg), take breaks to give your body a break and lower your tolerance. Lastly, watch where your caffeine sources are coming from, the sugary Starbucks drink or a healthy cup of home brewed coffee with light sweetener.