May 4, 2023

Caffeine: What You Need to Know

Major Team

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine, extracted from coffee beans, is a stimulatory anti-sleep compound with diverse applications in fitness and cognitive enhancement. It has a reputation as a nootropic for its ability to stimulate the mind and sensitizes neurons. Caffeine functions as a strength builder or a fat burner in the fitness world.

Did You Know?

Coffee, tea, and soda all contain caffeine, which is readily absorbed in the gut, dissolves in water and fat molecules in the body, and enters the brain. Food or food-related substances, such as fibers, can slow down the rate at which caffeine levels in the blood peak. A quicker energy boost could result from sipping your morning coffee on an empty stomach instead of after breakfast.

What Caffeine Offers You 

Caffeine's ability to block adenosine, a brain-signaling molecule, leads to improved mood and brain function. Although more caffeine is not always better, drinking between 3 to 5 cups of coffee or more than 3 cups of tea per day may reduce the risk of brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's by 28 to 60%. It is important to note that coffee and tea contain other bioactive compounds that may also be beneficial.

Caffeine also stimulates the central nervous system, which increases metabolism by 11% and fat burning by 13%. It may promote muscular contractions and endurance, delay muscle exhaustion, increase fat use as fuel, and reduce perceived exertion during exercise. Doses of 1.4 to 2.3 mg/kg body weight consumed 1 hour before exercise can provide these benefits in various sports, workouts, and resistance exercises.

Caffeine stimulates the heart and increases blood flow, causing a temporary boost in blood pressure, especially in individuals who do not regularly consume it. However, clinical trials have not identified unfavorable effects of caffeine on blood pressure, even in patients with hypertension, and cohort studies have not demonstrated that coffee consumption is associated with an increased risk of hypertension.

Furthermore, most studies on liver disease and caffeine indicate that caffeinated coffee is linked to a lower risk of liver cancer, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. Likewise, research has shown that regular coffee consumption is associated with a decreased risk of type-2 diabetes, although the effect may come from the coffee plant compounds rather than caffeine. 

Are There Any Side Effects?

Caffeine is considered safe for most healthy adults when consumed in moderate doses (up to 400 mg per day), equivalent to 4 cups of coffee. However, common side effects of caffeine include insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and agitation. High caffeine intake can result in gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomachaches, heartburn, and diarrhea. Extremely high doses of caffeine can lead to irregular heartbeat and even death, hence it's important to avoid products with concentrated or pure caffeine.

Addiction and withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, irritability, and fatigue, may also occur when caffeine consumption is abruptly stopped. Pregnant individuals and children should limit their caffeine intake to avoid potential harmful effects.

Caffeine can interact with numerous medications. It may result in your body breaking down a medicine too quickly, rendering it ineffective. Combined with other stimulant pharmaceuticals, it can result in a dangerously fast heartbeat and high blood pressure. When a medication slows the body's metabolism of caffeine, it can increase the risk of jitteriness and irritability, especially in people who often consume many caffeinated beverages throughout the day. 

How Much Caffeine Should You Take?

The amount of caffeine taken should match each person's needs. The suggested daily amount of 100 mg of caffeine is for people new to taking supplements. 

For healthy people, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers a daily caffeine intake of 400 milligrams, or around 4 cups of brewed coffee, to be safe. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises pregnant individuals to keep their daily caffeine intake to 200 mg (or roughly 2 cups of brewed coffee). Higher doses of 3 to 6 mg/kg of body weight serve to boost strength.

Pro Tip for Incorporating Caffeine into Your Diet

You can supplement caffeine through various beverages like coffee, tea, energy drinks, or pills. Choose a method that suits your lifestyle and preferences. Remember to be mindful of your caffeine intake and consult a doctor if you have any concerns.