Caffeine – Friend or Foe?

Posted on Oct 22, 2008 in Health & Wellness

Let’s face we all love that burst of energy that swims through our veins after we down our favorite energy drink, or caffeinated diet pill. Athletes have saturated themselves for years with many forms of caffeine to enhance performance, increase mental alertness and create a euphoric rush. Well, for the past several years those same experiences are now being felt in gyms and businesses all around the world. From the ballpark to the boardroom, caffeine has become the most widely used substance that many cannot live without.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine can be described as a natural stimulant that is can be found in such every everyday pleasures as coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks or the ever popular energy drink. It is also, a common practice with many of many today’s athletes and gym goers, who readily use fat burners and now and Nitric Oxide supplements that deliver up to a whopping 250 mille-grams of caffeine per serving. With this kind of use, or abuse, no wonder caffeine is one of the most widely used

used drugs in the world.

Differences in Caffeine:

Caffeine concentration will vary according to the plant that it is grown from; its growing conditions and ultimately the strength of the caffeine. For example, Coffee beans grown primarily in Central and South America contain approximately 1 Percent

caffeine. However, Coffee beans grown in Africa and Indonesia, contain roughly about 2 Percent caffeine, While, the caffeine that is found in Tea Leaves may run as high as 5 Percent. Although, it is imperative to mention that even though

Tea Leaves will contain more caffeine by weight than coffee beans. There will be a higher content of caffeine present in a cup of Joe, due to fact that more coffee beans than tea leaves are used to make each regular cup.

Approximate Amount of Caffeine:

1. Instant Coffee: 150 ml cup 60-100 mg

2. Percolated/Drip Coffee: 150 ml cup 100-150 mg

3. Espresso: 150 ml cup 90mg

4. Decaffeinated: 150 ml cup 2-4 mg

5. Tea: 150 ml cup 30-100 mg

6. Green Tea: 150 ml cup 15 mg

7. Red Bull: 250 ml 80 mg

8. Fat Burners: 20-100 mg per tablet

9. Coke/Pepsi: 250 ml 35 mg

10. Nitric Oxide: 200 mg Per Serving

11. Chocolate Bar: 30 gm bar 20-60 mg

12. Starbucks, Grande Coffee: (A Whopping 330 mg)

How Many Use Caffeine?

Worldwide per capita caffeine consumption (including that of children) is estimated to be 70 mg per day, or approximately equivalent to one cup of coffee. Now for Americans it is a bit higher: with the average intake is said to be around 200 mg per day (with most of the consumption coming before 9:00 am).

What are the Benefits of Caffeine?

For years, people have made Caffeine a daily part of their lives. From athletes, who have been downing this stimulant to enhance performance to the average layman, who feel that caffeine is just as important as the oxygen they breathe. Caffeine has become the most popular over the counter drug.

The reason, caffeine binds to and actually blocks proteins known as adenosine receptors. Naturally speaking, these receptors will bind to the adenosine, which in turn will produce feelings of sedation, while lowering heart rate, blood pressure and reducing neural activity. The ingestion of caffeine has the opposite effects for it allows dopamine, a stimulatory neurotransmitter, to play more of a primary role in comparison to the sedentary adenosine.

However, as the central nervous system may also play an imperative role with physical control and athletic performance, caffeine’s application to sports goes far beyond its effect as a mental stimulant. Nutriontist and Strength Coaches have speculated that the sensation of muscular fatigue during exercise is itself a function of the brain rather than actual muscular depletion, and that that with proper caffeine implementation, a masking sensation will occur in the brain, which will ultimately reduce the athlete’s perception of muscular fatigue. Laconically speaking, caffeine appears to enhance the mind’s sway over the body.

In another finding, caffeine will not only block protein it will significantly impact anyone in the gym. In a study reported by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, athletes who ingested a caffeine rich supplement one-hour prior to a bench press workout made significantly increased gains: by achieving a higher 1-Rep Maximum lift. In another study, subjects were able to exercise longer and generated higher cardio-outputs. This happens because of caffeine’s ability to burn more body fat, which in turn will ultimately spare muscle glycogen, while allowing the body to fight off fatigue longer.

How Does Athlete or Gym-Rat Use this Potent Drug?

One of the most effective ways that individuals are seeing the best results is by using a supplementation that has a serving of 200-400 mg of caffeine and ingesting that one-hour prior to exercise. It is also best, to use caffeine with a three-month cycle-followed by a month off between each cycle.

So, with all of the benefits and gains-is there anything to be worried about?

Yes!

What are the Short-Term Side-Effects of Caffeine?

Caffeine presents many side effects to regular users and also moderate consumers. At one point many researchers looked to link caffeine with heart disease and cancer. Also many studies have shown that blood pressure is increased with the consumption of caffeine, but the results of these studies vary. For the most part these beliefs have been put to rest due to extensive testing. Currently there is no evidence that links caffeine to cancer, cardiovascular disease, or high blood pressure. However, caffeine causes many side effects that can still cause many problems among athletes as well as the regular person. These side effects include sleep deprivation, nausea, cramping, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, and gastrointestinal instability. For athletes, caffeine has more disastrous effects that may affect performance. These side effects include muscle tightness, muscle cramping, and dehydration. The threat of any of these problems during competition is enough to make any athlete think twice before using caffeine in a major event.

Signs that You Maybe Ingesting Too Much of a Good Thing:

If any of the following experiences are occurring on a regular basis, it maybe time to switch to de-caffeinated coffee, or taking a break from the caffeine enriched Fat-Burner:

• Restlessness

• Nervousness

• Insomnia

• Increased body temperature

• Increased urination

• Increased alertness

• Irritability and restlessness

• Flushed face

• Increased urination

• Stomach upsets

• Muscle twitching

*It is imperative to mention that not all individuals will experience these symptoms.

Caffeine Overdose:

Fatal overdose with caffeine is extremely rare, but it is possible. The lethal dose in humans appears to be 5 to 10 grams, although toxic symptoms may appear with lower doses. Some symptoms of caffeine poisoning include tremors (involuntary shaking), nausea, vomiting, irregular or rapid heart

rate and confusion. In extreme cases, individuals may become delirious or have seizures. In these cases, death may be caused by seizures that results in an inability to breathe. In less severe cases, high doses have been associated with panic attacks.

In small children toxic effects may be observed with much smaller doses, i.e. drinking about seven cups of strong coffee.

Most researchers now agree that there is little risk of harm when a person consumes less than 600 mg of caffeine a day. At times of anxiety or stress, or during pregnancy, many doctors now

recommend consumption of less than 200 mg a day.

Caffeine has been making a “BUZZ” for itself for many years. With millions of dollars being brought in from this product, there is no wonder why it is one widely used products world-wide. But, with everything good, there is a bad. And, being that thrive in a society of over-consumption, it is imperative that I mention that before entering into any supplement program the consultation of a medical doctor is should be the first thing you consider.