Coffee (even decaf)
What do all of these things have in common… good ol’ caffeine.
What is caffeine actually doing in the body?
To start, caffeine isn’t necessarily this energy packed wonder drug everyone believes it to be. To be honest, it basically is just playing a trick on your body by blocking the natural feed back loop that results in the onset of fatigue. This is great when you need an afternoon pick me up at the office, but not so great when your natural rhythms get kicked off the track.
Let’s get to the science
As the day progresses, adenosine, a neurochemical, is released and builds up within the bloodstream. Your body contains unique receptors that adenosine reacts with. This reaction has been known to result in things such as slowed heart rate and other factors that may play a role in the feeling that we all refer to as “sleepy”.
Along comes caffeine
Caffeine’s structure is quite similar to that of adenosine and as a result caffeine can fit into the unique receptors that were mentioned above. However, when caffeine basically “blocks” the receptors, the same effects caused by adenosine do not occur. So to keep it simple, certain receptors accept adenosine and when a certain amount is built up within your blood stream then BAM you get tired. It’s a nice little loop our bodies have been using for quite sometime. Caffeine just blocks that loop. The more caffeine you consume, the more receptors that become blocked.
That’s not all
So what’s that jolt of energy you feel? Well caffeine also stimulates that release of a few “feel good” neurotransmitters. Dopamine and adrenaline to name a couple. With the release of adrenaline your body will enter the “fight or flight” phase and your senses will become heightened. As for the dopamine release, well that will just make you feel great and your body will yearn for more (ever wonder why some people get headaches when they can’t get their morning joe?). As all of this is going on, adenosine, the guy who regulates sleepiness, is totally being blocked and so… the party rages on.
Your body manages to clear the caffeine molecules or at the point where your body begins to produce more of both adenosine and its receptors. When this happens…you hit the wall. Sure another caffeine “pick me up” can do the trick, but with the introduction of more adenosine and new receptors you’ll be needing more caffeine than before to feel the same effects.
So what’s a safe amount?
According to mayoclinic.org you should stay under 400mg a day.
That should be around:
- 4 cups of brewed coffee.
- or 3 scoops of C4 pre-workout
- or 5 8oz. cans of Redbull
- or around 33oz. of dark chocolate
Fun fact, I believe the safe limit was 300mg just a few years ago.
If anyone was wondering the exact dose size that could put you six feet under, well it’s roughly around 10 grams. Sure 10 grams doesn’t sounds like much, but no worries here… you will never be able to reach it if you are a normal human. That would be like drinking 100 cups of coffee all at once. Pretty much impossible.
It’s not all bad news
caffeine does have benefits.
Here are just a few
- consuming an average amount of coffee a day (2-5 cups let’s say) has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia in the drinker’s later years.
- Coffee drinkers are shown to have less cases of certain cancers, strokes and type 2 diabetes.
- Caffeine can heighten your awareness and help you perform better at the task at hand.
Moral of the story…
use caffeine wisely and in safe doses and you will be just dandy.
So go ahead, down that scoop of C4 before you hit the gym.