Pros and Cons of caffeine

“Cup of motivation”; aka coffee. There is a simply reason why coffee gives you this motivation: meet our good friend caffeine. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that arouses your brain and central nervous system, making more focused and less fatigued. Teas, chocolate, and coffee naturally contain this; while it is mostly added into beverages including sodas, energy drinks, and other supplements.

Regardless of which source we choose to consume, caffeine has been there to give us that extra boost to complete the day. But careful, too much of a good thing could also be a bad thing.

Here are a few quick pros and cons:

Pros –

  • More alert

Indeed, caffeine improves our mental focus and attention span to help us throughout the day; getting up in the morning, completing more complexed tasks or concentrating on a writing an informative blog. Some studies show that caffeine assists adults with ADHD by delivering the focus they need versus taking prescribed medication. Whatever the case may be, caffeine has your back.

  • Increases athletic performance

Ever wondered why those pre-workouts gives you so much energy? Because that “super matrix proprietary blend” has caffeine!!! Caffeine is a natural performance enhancer. It increases an athlete’s stamina and delays any feeling of soreness or ‘burn’, so you can get that last rep or two.

Cons –

  • Increases anxiety

Caffeine can induce nervousness, high blood pressure, muscle tremors, and irregular heartbeats. It can also affect your sleep; could keep you up more than you need to OR being over stimulated, reversing the effect of caffeine (making you sleepier). When taken at large amount of dose in a short period of time, it can be detrimental to your health more than it can help.

  • Causes addiction

Pursuing a certain intake of caffeine as a daily routine can allow your body to depend on it; making you more susceptible to being addicted to caffeine. Furthermore, one could experience headaches from caffeine withdrawals.

  • Diuretic

Caffeine can stimulate our digestive system; decreasing the time of us processing our food. In more ways than one, your body uses water that was consumed to get rid of toxins and wastes. This can cause more frequent trips to the bathroom. In a short time, your metabolism also increases which rises your body temperature and encourages you to perspire — another way your body uses water to get rid of toxins. With water depleting from your body it can potentially cause you to dehydrate. No bueno.

Caffeine definitely has good benefits, but also has some possible side effects when not monitored.

Couple of things to consider when consuming caffeine:

  • Your body will build a tolerance to caffeine
  • Keep daily intake to <400 mg (about 3 cups of coffee)
  • No caffeine 6-8 hours before your bedtime
  • As a pre-workout, intake .75-1.00 mg per body weight — 45-60 mins before workout
  • Caffeine pills take longer for your body to absorb
  • Soda can contain up to 5 mg of caffeine per ounce (60 mg in a 12 oz can)
  • Dark chocolate has a higher caffeine content (~12mg per oz) than milk chocolate (1-5 mg per oz)
  • Decaffeinated coffee still has some caffeine!! (not much though; usually ~6 mg per cup)
  • Energy drinks can contain up to 150 mg of caffeine per serving (the taller cans usually have 2 servings!!!)
  • If you need to reduce your caffeine consumption from coffee, switching to tea is a great option (green tea has 25 mg per cup vs. coffee with 120 mg per cup).

Some people have a lower tolerance to caffeine, while others can metabolize it faster (being able to utilize caffeine much quicker). Whichever the case, be mindful of what you consume.


Brett Schack

Coach, CrossFit Aestus

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