Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I'm a Caffeine Addict.... and Proud of It

I wrote an article a few years back promoting the benefits of caffeine and one of them being a hang-over remedy and a way to help snap you back into reality following a night of partying....Well now that all-nigher has taken on a new style, kind of. Instead of taking care of crying, sick 21 yr olds it's now a crying, sick 18 month old. Still lots of crying, just for different reasons. Why is everyone always crying?

Anyways, back to the wonder drug: CAFFEINE. Second only to student loans as my biggest contributor for success during graduate school; caffeine can be very useful for a variety of reasons. There is an enormous amount of research supporting the positive effects that caffeine can have on performance, cognitive functioning and health.

The Energy Drink industry is one of the fastest growing areas of nutritional supplements and is quickly becoming a billion dollar industry. One reason for this is people are suckers for their marketing strategies and catchy slogans such as: “Energy Booster” “Refresh” “Revitalize” “Amped!”  and I happen to be one of those suckers. 
The other reason is probably the fact that they do actually work! It’s no secret that caffeine can make you feel more alert or make you feel like you have more energy; anyone who has had a coffee or slammed a few Redbulls knows that. What’s not as well known is the vast amount of research supporting the numerous benefits of caffeine.

Hundreds of research studies have shown caffeine to be an effective ergogenic aid, particularly for endurance-type events. Caffeine consumption is said to have a “glucose sparing” effect by increasing fat utilization as a fuel source (which is practically unlimited) rather than stored carbohydrates (limited) during long duration activities such as a marathon. It’s been shown to increase time to exhaustion by up to 25%. The military has taken special interest in caffeine consumption because of its performance enhancing abilities as well as it seems to have the ability to increase alertness and delay fatigue. Caffeine can also improve reaction time, increase cognitive functioning and improve memory.

Continue the caffeine craze below:

Another often overlooked benefit of caffeine is its thermogenic effect; meaning it increases your body’s production of heat or calories burned. In other words, caffeine can increase your daily caloric expenditure.

However, be forewarned as increases in daily calorie expenditure are typically only around 10-15%. So, don’t go drinking an extra large triple mocha late consisting of a hefty 750 calories and say “It’s okay, I’m burning extra calories from the caffeine,” because you’re setting yourself up for failure. If consumed in a form associated with minimal calories (i.e. black coffee or caffeine pills) over time, caffeine could result in an additional 10-15 lbs of weight lost over the course of a year!

Different people respond differently to different forms of caffeine and dosages. I’m sure many of you are aware that it is possible to build up a tolerance to caffeine as well as suffer from withdrawal symptoms if you are a chronic user and try to quit cold turkey. It can be physically addicting so be careful! Personally, I like to "reboot" the system every once in a while and go without caffeine for  a week or so...okay maybe 2 days if I'm lucky.  Then once you go back it's like heaven on earth.  Some people who are more sensitive to caffeine may suffer from other side-effect such as feeling “jittery”, increased heart rate, trouble sleeping and gastrointestinal distress. Typically these side-effects only occur when large amounts of caffeine are consumed.

Take Home Message: Caffeine is the world’s most popular drug for a reason. Caffeine can improve reaction time, increase alertness, increase calorie expenditure and improve performance with minimal side-effects. 
Research suggests that dosages between 3-5 mg/kg of bodyweight seem to be the most beneficial.  For myself weighing 104 kg (230 lbs) that comes out to approximately 400 mg of caffeine. Just to put things in perspective a typically cup of coffee has ~150-200 mg. of caffeine, so drink up!

Get Some!

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