America and probably most of the civilized world have a love affair with caffeine. Chances are you consume it daily and if you don’t you know ten people who do. In fact, caffeine is the world’s most consumed psychoactive drug. What do you know about this natural derivative and how can it work best for you? Let’s take a look at what it is, how it can be good for you, and when it may not be.
Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. It works by blocking the molecule Adenosine which in turn prevents drowsiness. Adenosine is a byproduct that binds to nerve receptors to signal fatigue.
It also stimulates the Autonomic nervous system which controls muscles and the function of internal organs.
Where does caffeine come from?
Caffeine is an alkaloid derived from any number of seeds and nuts largely found in South America and Asia. There are sixty plants known to contain caffeine.
Is Caffeine healthy?
Most people like caffeine for the energy boost they get from drinking caffeinated beverages. However, caffeine can indeed have some real health benefits. Let’s look at some.
- Caffeine and Weight loss- Most thermogenic (fat burner) supplements) contain caffeine. Caffeine burns fat by upping your metabolic rate, this can be by as much as 15%. Also when caffeine binds to adenosine receptors on fat cells it stimulates the release of fat from those cells which is then shuttled to the muscles to use as fuel.
- Improving memory
- Can help prevent diseases like Type II diabetes, Parkinson’s, and liver disease.
Like anything caffeine can have its negative aspects. NBC News recently published a story about a 16 year old who died from a caffeine overdose. While this story is tragic is should not automatically bring concern to caffeine consumption.
One problem with caffeine and health is the fact that many people use it as a substitute for sleep. Sleep is more than just the recharging of energy. The body requires adequate rest for a number of metabolic functions and using stimulants in place of this can be dangerous. You should still aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Another concern is the taking of supplements with caffeinated drinks. Some people may take in too much caffeine by combining coffee, energy drinks, pre-workout, and thermogenics. If taking caffeine containing supplements, it is not advised to also drink caffeinated beverages.
One popular belief is that caffeine causes dehydration because it acts as a diuretic. This belief dates back to 1928. However more recent research shows that urine output that may be caused by caffeine does not dehydrate the body. A 2005 study concluded caffeine did not produce any greater urine output than the placebo group.
How much to consume?
So how much caffeine can we safely intake?
Many people use caffeine to help with sport and exercise. A dosage of about 200-300 milligrams has been shown to help for strength and performance activities.
A dosage of 200 mg is typically found to be most effective for fat loss.
Some research has even shown dosages as little as 20 mg to be beneficial for cognitive function and memory.
However, it is advised to space caffeine intake throughout your day.
Here are some Fitness Tip to take away
- Take 200 mg upon waking along with 500 mg Green Tea Extract for fat loss. Eat 15-30 minutes after taking.
- Take 200-300 mg pre workout (30 min before workout) and at least 3-4 hours after your morning dosage.
- Do not drink additional coffee, tea, energy drinks, or other caffeinated beverages at the sane time or within 4 hours of taking supplemental caffeine.
- Sleep at least 7-8 hours a night and do not use caffeine or any stimulant as a substitute for rest.
- Avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime if you have trouble sleeping. If you still have trouble sleeping look at supplements like L-Theanine (200 mg) and Melatonin (3-5mg) thirty minutes before bed.
- Children under 18 should consume caffeine only in limited amounts. About 100 mg per day according to research for children 13-18.
- Do not assume that coffee and supplements are on par with caffeine dosages. An 8oz cup of coffee only contains about 90 mg of caffeine. Furthermore, decaf is not recommended for pregnant women. Finally, it is not advised that pregnant or breastfeeding women consume caffeine as it can be harmful to the baby.