All About Caffeine
Every day, millions of people reach for a caffeinated beverage to wake them up and give them the energy they need to face their daily tasks. Caffeine is one of the most commonly used and consumed ingredients across the world.
You have probably heard conflicting things about caffeine - that it’s helpful and safe, that it can cause anxiety and insomnia, and lots of other side effects, both beneficial and potentially harmful. So, what’s the truth? Should you consider cutting out caffeine, or is it neutral, or even good for you?
What is Caffeine?
1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, more commonly known as caffeine, is a stimulant that naturally occurs in various foods that we consume like coffee, tea, and cacao plants. Most people use caffeine daily, and this has been common practice for thousands of years. Beverages like teas, coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, foods containing cocoa, and supplements like caffeine pills and caffeine supplements all make use of this stimulant.
In the second half of the twentieth century, caffeine popularity boomed, leading to the development of energy drinks and caffeine pills.
How Does Caffeine Work?
Caffeine is a stimulant that works by arousing the central nervous system and the brain after consumption and absorption through the intestines and into the bloodstream. When it reaches the liver, the body breaks caffeine down into various compounds that affect several organs.
The organ that’s most influenced by the consumption of caffeine in the brain. In the brain, caffeine blocks the effects of the neurotransmitter, adenosine. Adenosine relaxes the brain and leads to the experience of feeling tired.
Adenosine builds in your brain over a day, compounding the feeling of tiredness until you feel like falling asleep. Caffeine fills the adenosine receptors in the brain without activating them, blocking adenosine effects, making you feel less tired.
Caffeine compounds also increase adrenaline levels in the brain, and the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine, other neurotransmitters in the brain. The combinations from the various effects on the brain’s neurotransmitters further arouse the brain, increasing the user’s feelings of alertness and ability to focus.
All these effects begin to occur in the brain in as little as twenty minutes, with full effects in one hour.
Sources of Caffeine
Caffeine naturally occurs in nuts, seeds, and leaves of specific plants. The natural sources of caffeine are then harvested and added to everyday foods and beverages. The amount of caffeine in different supplements, foods, and beverages vary.
Per 240 mL:
- Coffee - 102-200 mg
- Espresso - 240-720 mg
- Brewed tea - 404-120 mg
- Energy drinks - 50-160 mg
- Soft drinks - 20-40 mg
- Decaffeinated coffee - 3-12 mg
- Chocolate milk - 2-7 mg
Uses of Caffeine
Most commonly, people consume caffeine for energy and alertness, but caffeine has other beneficial effects.
Caffeine can improve your mood and boost brain function.
The ability to block adenosine molecules increases other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. The change in neurotransmitters’ production benefits your mood and your brain’s short-term recall, reaction time, and alertness. Those who use caffeine regularly are less likely to become depressed or die by suicide, and those that consume three to five cups of coffee a day have a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Caffeine boosts your metabolism and fat burning
Consuming about 300 mg of caffeine per day could burn an extra 79 calories per day, because of your stimulated central nervous system. Though 79 calories are not that significant, consider the accumulated amount of approximately 2,370 calories over a month. This effect is responsible for the use of caffeine supplements and caffeine pills to aid in weight loss.
Caffeine enhances exercise performance
Caffeine is a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements because of its ability to improve muscle contractions and fight off the feeling of fatigue. It also increases the body’s use of fat for fuel.
Caffeine use protects against heart disease and diabetes
It’s a common misconception that caffeine increases the risk of heart disease. Caffeine can actually lower this risk in people who drink between one and four cups of coffee a day. The same amount of coffee can also reduce the risk of type two diabetes.
Caffeine also has the potential to:
- Reduce the risk of cirrhosis of the liver
- Increase your lifespan
- Decrease the risk of liver, colorectal, and skin cancer
- Reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis
- Prevent gout and benefit gut-health
What are Caffeine’s Side Effects?
Caffeine has a few downsides, despite all the benefits. Some adverse effects of regular caffeine use include:
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Difficulties sleeping
- Tremors or shaking
- Headaches or migraines
- Adverse effects on a developing baby if a pregnant woman consumes too much caffeine
- Interactions with some medications
How Much Caffeine is Safe?
Experts agree that a daily intake of up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is safe. However, fatal overdoses have occurred with a single dose of 500 mg, so you should consume no more than 200 mg at a time. Pregnant women should decrease their use to about 200 mg of caffeine per day but always discuss it with your doctor.
Caffeine Pills and Caffeine Supplements
There are many benefits to consuming caffeine, which led to the development of caffeine pills and caffeine supplements.
Caffeine pills are supplements that contain natural or synthetic caffeine. If you follow the directions, caffeine pills and caffeine supplements are safe to take, as long as you are not:
- Pregnant or an adolescent
- Sensitive to caffeine
- Affected by gastroesophageal reflux disease or heart disease
Caffeine pills typically contain between 100-200 mg of caffeine per serving, and it’s imperative to read and follow directions on your caffeine supplement, as you do have a higher chance of overdosing on caffeine when you consume caffeine pills as opposed to drinking a cup of coffee.
Caffeine supplements and caffeine pills are convenient ways to receive caffeine's benefits without consuming coffee or energy drinks.
Several sports supplements are caffeine supplements, including:
- Caffeine Pills
Allmax Caffeine Pills - 200 mg caffeine per tablet
ANS Performance Prophecy - This pre-workout and caffeine supplement contains caffeine and other ingredients for a superior workout
- Fat Burners
ANS Performance Diablo - This supplement uses caffeine and other ingredients to give you energy and encourage your body to burn off more fat.
Despite the belief that drinking coffee and consuming caffeine is a bad habit, research shows that consuming modest amounts of caffeine daily has many beneficial effects. You can consume caffeine with caffeine supplements, pure caffeine pills, or consuming food and beverages that naturally include caffeine.
Caffeine can be a great addition to the supplements you already use and help you have better workouts and achieve your goals faster. Supplement Superstore has a great selection of sports supplements, including caffeine supplements, and we are here to answer any questions you may have.