Most of us love a coffee or two, don’t we? Some will have a normal amount every now and again, whilst others crave it.
You could be a fan of freshly brewed coffee or someone who relies on energy drinks to get through the day, either way, caffeine can quickly make its way into our lives!
Whilst heading out of the house without a coffee is a totally crazy idea to some, lots of us get through our day relying on this stimulant.
Now, is caffeine something we can enjoy in moderation like other foods? Or is caffeine more harmful to us than good?
Let’s take a closer look at how caffeine affects our bodies.
- Caffeine (both intended as a stimulant and not) can be found in a number of foods, not just our favorite coffee
- The recommended daily caffeine intake sits at around 400mg
- Research has reported a number of benefits of caffeine, including weight loss
- Consuming too much caffeine may have side effects – While caffeine, in general, can have some negative effects on some of us, including during pregnancy
- Caffeine powder should be avoided at all costs
How do we usually use caffeine?
Caffeine is used for a number of reasons, across foods, drinks and even where it naturally occurs. While the FDA recommend no more than 400mg of caffeine each day, many of us consume this in a variety of ways. This may also include certain pain medications.
However, drugs aside, caffeine is most commonly found in coffee, energy drinks and sodas, with more than 90% of American adults consuming caffeine regularly. Many of us probably don’t even realise we are!
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Where does caffeine originate from?
Believe it or not, caffeine is actually found naturally in over 60 plant species. You can find it in the following (here’s just a few of course!):
- Yerba mate leaf
- Tea leaves and buds
- Coffee beans
- Dola nuts
- Cacao beans
- Guarana seeds
When occurring naturally in plants, it acts as a natural pesticide.
Caffeine and food
When we think about caffeine, we generally think instantly about coffee. However, caffeine is actually in plenty of common foods, too. This includes: Tea, chocolate, some waffles, gum, jelly beans and even marshmallows.
Of course, it can be difficult to measure your caffeine intake when you’re eating foods containing caffeine – especially if you’re a big coffee drinker, too. While the recommended amount sits at around 400mg (2 to 3 coffees), a little over may not necessarily do you any harm.
However, consistently going overboard with your caffeine may have some side effects! Especially if you struggle to sleep, since caffeine is considered a stimulant.
Many of us don’t realise how much caffeine is in popular drinks, for example:
- 95 to 200mg in one 8-ounce cup of coffee
- 35 to 45 mg in one 12-ounce can of cola
- 70 to 150mg in one 8-ounce energy drink
- 14 to 60mg in one 8-ounce cup of tea
While choosing decaf coffee can most certainly save you a little caffeine, it doesn’t mean that it is 100% caffeine-free, however.
What are the benefits of caffeine?
Does caffeine deserve a bad rap? Definitely not, especially with the following potential benefits.
Boost weight loss
Caffeine has long been linked to weight loss, since it has the power to stimulate thermogenesis, boosting the body’s potential to generate more heat and energy from digesting food.
Alongside this, caffeine has been known to suppress your appetite. So instead of reaching for those pesky snacks throughout the day, coffee can curb your cravings and keep you feeling full between meals.
Many weight loss products advertise their ‘thermogenic’ capabilities, since they containe caffeine, ephedrine or ephedra.
If you’ve ever woken up a little groggy, the chances are you’ve grabbed a hot coffee first thing to help you wake up! This is the most common use of caffeine, since so many love our morning cup of coffee to get us going.
Research has shown that a 75mg serving of caffeine has the potential to boost your alertness and attention, with even higher doses improving mental alertness, memory and even speed reasoning.
While feeling focused and alert first thing can be a perk of caffeine, we’d strongly advise against drinking caffeinated drinks before bed or if you’re trying to avoid sleeping!
Improve sport performance
Caffeine can do more than improve your groggy state first thing in the morning! Caffeine has also been shown to improve physical performance during endurance exercise, which is why many gyms stock energy drinks and sports drinks to give you an extra kick.
Health benefits of caffeine
Yep, caffeine could benefit your health! Here are some potential health benefits of caffeine.
- Brain function – Some research has shown that caffeine may enhance thinking skills, slowing the effects of mental decline as we age
- Memory, including reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease – With studies showing that higher coffee intake and lifelong caffeine consumption may help these types of diseases
- Reduced risk of skin cancer – Applying caffeine directly to your skin has been shown (in mice) to help prevent UV light from causing cancer
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes – Although the percentage is pretty small (at 1%!), one study has shown that drinking more caffeine may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes
But are there other potential health benefits of caffeine? Yep, there’s more!
- Lowered risk of stroke
- Reduced risk of dying from oral cancer
- Potential to help protect against cataracts
- Reduced risk of developing kidney stones
Does caffeine have any risks?
Also Read: What to eat before a workout
While there are plenty of potential health benefits, does caffeine pose any risks?
Anxiety and depression
If you struggle with anxiety or depression, high levels of caffeine have the potential to exacerbate these symptoms. As well as this, a high caffeine intake has also been associated with high weight, lower academic success and a heightened risk of depression.
Blood sugar levels
Those living with type 2 diabetes have reported a rise in blood glucose levels after consuming caffeine. Alongside this, some evidence suggests that caffeine may impair insulin action.
Pregnancy and fertility
It is recommended that women avoid caffeine during pregnancy, and for good reason. Studies have shown the effects caffeine may have during pregnancy:
- Delayed fetal growth
- Pregnancy loss
- Abnormal fetal heart rhythm
Other potential side effects include:
- Incontinence – As one study shows that women with an intake or 329mg daily had a 70% higher chance of having bladder concerns
- Menopausal women consuming caffeine had a higher chance of hot flashes, according to studies
- Feeling dizzy
- Upset stomach
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
Medications and caffeine
As we touched upon earlier, some over the counter drugs may include a small amount of caffeine. However, some drugs can interact with caffeine, including:
- Some antidepressants
As well as some herbs and supplements:
- Red clover
Caffeine myths debunked
Is caffeine addictive?
While caffeine isn’t necessarily addictive in the same sense as illegal drugs, it is possible to have withdrawal symptoms if you stop consuming caffeine.
Is caffeine a diuretic?
Many coffee drinkers claim that caffeine has the potential to increase urinary volume and frequency. This then causes the body to lose water and electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium.
Also Read: How to get a peachy bum and tone your glutes
But I wouldn’t worry too much, as the fluid from your coffee will make up for any loss.
Can coffee help you to sober up?
After drinking or while hungover, caffeine may have the effect of making you feel more alert, however, it will not legally sober you up enough to drive for example.
Consuming caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol
There is no one single amount of caffeine we can confirm across all energy drinks since they vary greatly across brands and types. However, many of us do like to enjoy alcohol mixed with an energy drink of our choice.
When mixing an alcoholic beverage with an energy drink, caffeine can somewhat mask the depressant effects of alcohol. Plus, one 16-ounce Americano coffee contains on average 225mg of caffeine. In the same sized energy drink, it can range from 160mg to 357mg.
So if you’re heavy drinking and incorporating energy drinks, you may suffer from the jitters, headaches and most certainly struggle to sleep!
Can you overdose on caffeine?
It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll die as a result of consuming too much caffeine in your diet. It has been estimated that to kill an average adult male, it would 149+ cans of caffeinated energy drink.
Nevertheless, in pure form, caffeine can be a powerful stimulant. A single teaspoon of pure caffeine equates to around 28 cups of coffee. This can be incredibly unsafe and is best avoided at all costs.
And that’s it! In moderation, your body can most certainly benefit from the effects of caffeine.
However, don’t go overboard, or you may feel jittery, struggle to sleep, and it could exacerbate any anxious feelings.
If you’re looking to kickstart your weight loss and fire up your metabolism, it comes as no surprise that caffeine can benefit you! This is why we feature caffeine in Zortrim. This powerful ingredient will increase your alertness and concentration levels, so you can smash those goals, ladies!