Ahh, caffeine. Many of us crave it, while others get an ordinary dose every now and again.
Whether you’re a fan of energy drinks or a wonderfully brewed coffee first thing, caffeine comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. While the thought of heading out the door without a coffee seems crazy to many (myself included!), many of us even rely on this stimulant to get us through the day.
However, is caffeine doing us more harm than good? Or is it joining the many other foods we consider okay in moderation?
We take a closer look at how caffeine affects your body.
Quick caffeine facts:
- Caffeine can be found in a number of foods and drinks, not just coffee
- It is recommended that you have no more than 400mg of caffeine each day – or 2 to 3 cups of coffee, according to the FDA
- Consuming a moderate amount of caffeine has the potential to increase fat burn and aid weight loss, cognitive function and alertness
- When consumed in high amounts, caffeine can have some negative side effects
- Caffeine powder can be fatal and should be avoided at all costs
How we use caffeine
Somewhat addictive (to some of us), caffeine has long been considered both an additive and a drug. The FDA (The Food and Drug Administration) recommend consuming no more than 400mg of caffeine per day, however, many of us can tip over this since it can be found in a variety of food, drink and even medication.
Commonly consumed via coffee and over-the-counter medications to combat tiredness, caffeine can naturally occur in some foods, as well as feature in pain drugs.
It comes as no surprise that we turn to caffeine to keep us feeling alert, with more than 90% of adults in the US opting for regular caffeine. While this percentage may seem scarily high, it comes as no surprise that we have begun to find other benefits of caffeine.
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Where do we find caffeine?
Although many of us only think of caffeine in coffees and energy drinks, it is actually found naturally in over 60 plant species:
- Cacao beans
- Guarana seeds
- Coffee beans
- Dola nuts
- Tea leaves and buds
- Yerba mate leaf
What about the food we eat?
Without realising, many of us consume caffeine in a variety of foods we eat.
Although coffee is probably the common source of caffeine, it can also be found in chocolate, tea, waffles, gum, syrup and even marshmallows. Crazy, right?
A whole variety of snacks may only contain a small amount of caffeine, however, if you’re fond of a cup of coffee (or five!), you could be tipping over the recommended daily 400mg.
Alongside these popular foods, many of us enjoy soda and energy drinks, which are packed with sugars and additives – including caffeine. Here’s an 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
Yep! While you may believe that switching to tea over coffee is lowering your caffeine, you’ll still be getting some caffeine in a cup of tea. It’s also important to remember that even decaf alternatives aren’t entirely free of all caffeine, either.
Caffeine: The benefits
With all the bad-mouthing that caffeine can often get, is it really as bad as it’s made out to be? In reality, there has been a whole world of benefits associated with caffeine.
But of course, we take a closer look!
Enhancing weight loss
It’s no secret by now that caffeine has the potential to boost weight loss. Not only can caffeine suppress our appetite – which is why when we drink coffee throughout the day, we may also snack less – but it can also stimulate thermogenesis.
When we’re on a mission to lose weight (I feel that, ladies!), it’s important to know your daily energy expenditure in order to create a calorie deficit and lose weight. Alongside this, foods that keep us feeling full (such as high protein foods) can support our exercise goals and curb the urge to snack.
Also Read: Why is breakfast so important?
This is a similar feeling with caffeine, with coffee often bridging the gap, allowing us to feel full between meals with few calories. Caffeine has been used in weight loss products for some time, since it has the potential to kickstart the body’s potential to generate more heat and energy from digesting food.
Focus and alertness
Both across sport and our everyday lives, caffeine has long been used to make us feel more awake, alert and even focused.
Many of us can’t even fathom the idea of heading out the door to work without a coffee in hand! Research has shown that a 75mg serving of caffeine can boost your attention and alertness, with an even higher quantity of 160 to 600mg improving mental alertness, memory and even speed reasoning.
When it becomes a part of our everyday activities, we can somewhat become addicted to the effects of caffeine, however. These are the potential side effects that we need to look out for, which we’ll cover a little later.
Potential health benefits
For some time now, caffeine has been linked (positively!) to a variety of health conditions.
- Brain function – Since caffeine affects adenosine receptors in the brain, potentially enhancing thinking skills
- Memory improvements, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – While we’d never suggest going overboard on caffeine, some studies have shown positive links between life-long caffeine consumption and risks of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
- Cancer – Some research has shown that applying caffeine directly to the skin may result in a reduced risk of skin cancer, while drinking more than 4 cups of coffee daily has been shown to reduce the risk of oral cancer
- Type 2 diabetes – Although the reduced risk is pretty (very!) minimal at 1%, some research has shown that drinking more than one cup of coffee each day may reduce your risk of developing diabetes
Does caffeine pose any risks?
Like anything, too much of a good thing can result in some potential side effects. Of course, in moderation, many of us consuming caffeine daily, but it may affect the following:
- Depression and anxiety – If you suffer from these types of mental health concerns, consuming high levels of caffeine may worsen your symptoms
- Rise in blood glucose levels – Some research suggests that caffeine may impair insulin action, resulting in a rise in blood sugar levels
- Pregnancy and fertility – Some research has shown that caffeine may affect fetal growth, result in pregnancy loss and an abnormal fetal heart rhythm
- Headaches, menopause and incontinence – A small study of women showed that an intake of 329mg of caffeine daily had a 70% higher chance of having bladder issues, while chronic headaches have also been shown to be triggered by caffeine, alongside hot flashes
- Insomnia – Since caffeine is frequently used to make us feel more alert, it comes as no surprise that we can struggle to sleep after consuming too much caffeine
Yes, sadly. While caffeine can make you feel alert and focused, too much can leave you with the following:
- Feeling dizzy
- Upset stomach
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
Medication and caffeine
Although some medications may include a small amount of caffeine, some drugs can interact with caffeine, including:
- Some antidepressants
As well as some herbs and supplements:
- Red clover
Common caffeine myths
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 considered a diuretic?
Some coffee drinkers believe 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. However, no research backs this up.
Also Read: 30 Day meal plan for weight loss
If you were to drink more than 250mg each day, you may notice additional water loss – although in this case, the fluid (from the coffee) would make up for any loss.
Can caffeine sober you up?
While caffeine may ‘perk’ you up when you’ve had too much to drink or feel hungover, it cannot sober you up in order to drive legally etc.
Caffeinated energy drinks and alcohol
If you’re not a coffee person, the chances are you like soda or energy drinks that are usually packed with caffeine. In terms of how much caffeine to expect…
One 16-ounce Americano coffee contains on average 225mg of caffeine. In the same sized energy drink, it can range from 160mg to 357mg.
When mixing an alcoholic drink with an energy drink, caffeine can somewhat mask the depressant effects of alcohol.
And there we go! The highs and lows of consuming caffeine. Whether you’re a coffee drinker or prefer energy drinks and soda, nearly all of us consume caffeine in one form or another.
The power that caffeine has on your weight loss can be incredible, alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise. This is why we incorporate green tea – which is packed with catechins and caffeine – into PhenGold, for increased metabolism and ultimate fat burn!