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4 Caffeine Benefits & BS “Facts” That Justify Your Addiction

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4 Caffeine Benefits & BS “Facts” That Justify Your Addiction

If you’ve been warned about the scary “dangers” of caffeine and have never heard of its benefits, it’s time to learn the truth.

 

Caffeine is the most popular drug in the world with a long and rich history, and no single molecule has enriched our culture like the wondrous little 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine.

It’s also a controversial drug as various “experts” like to claim even mild but regular use eventually fries your nervous system, hurts your heart, and flatlines your adrenal glands.

I’m not sure how many people would give caffeine up if this these claims were true–it’s just too damn good–but fortunately for us “users,” they’re either exaggerated or wholly false.

While abusing caffeine can cause health issues, this is harder to do than you might think, and as you’ll see, consuming moderate amounts of caffeine regularly can actually improve your mental and physical health with no side effects whatsoever.

Let’s start at the beginning, though, with what caffeine is and how it works its magic in our bodies.

What is Caffeine and How Does It Work?

caffeine-side-effects

The modern way to start the day.

To understand the caffeine molecule and its effects in the body, we first need to understand what it banishes: the feeling of drowsiness.

This slow, sleepy stupor is caused by a molecule called adenosine, which is produced as your cells burn through energy stores, and which binds to receptors on neurons and tells your brain to slow down its signaling functions. The more energy you burn, the more adenosine you produce, and the sleepier you get.

Caffeine’s real magic is in its chemical structure, which is so similar to adenosine that nerve cells can’t tell the difference and allow it to bind to its adenosine-receptors.

Once caffeine has hijacked adenosine’s “seat” on a nerve cell, the fun begins. Instead of slowing down the central nervous system like adenosine, caffeine speeds up signaling processes, and the sudden spike in nervous activity causes your body to think there’s an emergency and to enter “fight or flight” mode.

Next in the sequence is the chemical that gives us the glorious caffeine “buzz”: good ol’ adrenaline, which follows the false alarm. Our pupils dilate, our heartbeat increases, our livers start releasing sugars, and we lap it all up.

So that’s how caffeine works, but an understanding of the mechanism raises a question: jolting our nervous system with chemical uppers every day has got to be unhealthy, right?

Common sense would say that sooner or later, regular consumption of this awesome little drug is going to catch up with us and our poor, abused neurons; that every glorious milligram ingested brings us a little bit closer to the reckoning. Many health “experts” say the same.

Well, I have good news: caffeine isn’t the dietary equivalent of unprotected sex or texting while driving. Much of the criticism leveled against it is bunk, and when used sensibly, it can even improve your health.

4 BS Caffeine “Side Effects” Debunked by Science

caffeine-side-effects

Only one way to find out…

Caffeine is a drug so some people are naturally more sensitive than others, but it’s not nearly as dangerous or harmful as many people would have you believe.

If you’ve been told to stay away from caffeine, it’s probably for one or more of the following reasons. Let’s put these myths to bed.

BS Side Effect #1:
Caffeine is Addictive

Although you may feel “addicted” to your cup of Morning Mud, chances are you’re not.

Abruptly eliminating caffeine from your diet can cause mild withdrawal symptoms for a day or two, such as headache, fatigue, and regular use may cause mild physical dependence, but for most people caffeine isn’t addictive in the way that alcohol and street drugs are.

Quitting doesn’t turn you into a monster and you’re not going to pawn stuff pilfered from your grandma’s house to buy that next latte, so you can caffeinate with a clear conscience.

BS Side Effect #2:
Caffeine Causes Insomnia

It’s fair to assume that chemically supercharging your nervous system every day is going to mess with your sleep, but that’s not always the case.

Research shows that regular caffeine use can impair the length and quality of your sleep, but these effects vary from person to person as some people’s bodies are better at processing the drug than others and the effects are smaller in habitual users than occasional.

What this boils down to is if you’re like most people, stopping caffeine intake at least 6 hours before bed will prevent sleep disturbances.

Unless your body is extremely sensitive to caffeine, your morning coffee or pre-workout simply isn’t going to affect your sleep. 

BS Side Effect #3:
Caffeine Increases the Risk of Osteoporosis, Heart Disease, and Cancer

Caffeine and Osteoporosis

At fairly absurd high levels of intake (more than 744 milligrams per day), caffeine may cause increase calcium and magnesium loss, but this is a non-issue because the calcium lost from drinking a cup of coffee can be replaced with two tablespoons of milk.

This is why research has shown that caffeine intake ranging from 0-1,400 milligrams per day (!?) has no effect on bone density. If you get enough calcium in your diet, caffeine won’t weaken your bones.

Caffeine and Heart Disease

Caffeine acutely raises heart rate and blood pressure and thus was assumed to increase the risk of heart disease. Research says otherwise, though.

According to the findings of the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II, which involved over 162,000 subjects and 26 years of data, and those of another long-term study carried out on 128,000 people over a period of 14 to 20 years,  coffee consumption–even at high levels–has no effect on blood pressure levels.

Soda intake was associated with higher blood pressure levels, though, implying that something other than caffeine was the cause.

Caffeine and Cancer

Research shows that caffeine is unlikely to be carcinogenic at intakes of less than 500 mg per day, and that it may even help protect against certain kinds of cancer.

The Bottom Line on Caffeine and Disease

To quote researchers from the Canadian government’s Bureau of Chemical Safety:

“Based on the data reviewed, it is concluded that for the healthy adult population, moderate daily caffeine intake at a dose level up to 400 mg day(-1) (equivalent to 6 mg kg(-1) body weight day(-1) in a 65-kg person) is not associated with adverse effects such as general toxicity, cardiovascular effects, effects on bone status and calcium balance (with consumption of adequate calcium), changes in adult behaviour, increased incidence of cancer and effects on male fertility.”

BS Side Effect #4:
Caffeine Dehydrates You

Caffeine does have a mild diuretic effect, but research shows that the amount of liquid contained in a caffeinated beverage is enough to replace the amount lost.

Research also shows that a caffeinated beverage is effective for fluid replacement during exercise.

4 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Caffeine

how-much-caffeine

Hitler loved decaf coffee. Need I say more?

Now that we’ve cleared the road of debris, let’s get to the fun stuff: why we should continue drinking caffeinated beverages and eating chocolate.

Caffeine Benefit #1:
Caffeine Improves Exercise Performance

Want to have better workouts? Have some caffeine beforehand.

Research shows that caffeine improves strengthmuscle endurance, and anaerobic performance, and also reverses the “morning weakness” experienced by many weightlifters.

If having better workouts is your kind of thing, then there are a few molecules in addition to caffeine that have been scientifically proven to help, and you’ll find them in my pre-workout drink PULSE.

It contains 6 of the most effective performance-enhancing ingredients available:

And what you won’t find in PULSE is equally special:

  • No artificial sweeteners or flavors..
  • No artificial food dyes.
  • No unnecessary fillers, carbohydrate powders, or junk ingredients.

The bottom line is if you want to know what a pre-workout is supposed to feel like…if you want to experience the type of energy rush and performance boost that only clinically effective dosages of scientifically validated ingredients can deliver…then you want to try PULSE.

legion pulse

Caffeine Benefit #2:
Caffeine Helps You Lose Fat

Caffeine speeds up your body’s metabolic rate by increasing the amount of catecholamines in the blood, which are chemicals that mobilize fat stores to be burned for energy.

Caffeine is a safe, effective weight loss aid that I highly recommend to anyone wanting to lose fat.

Caffeine Benefit #3:
Caffeine Improves Mental Performance

Want to know “one weird trick” for instantly becoming smarter?

Research shows that caffeine is an effective cognitive enhancer: it improves alertness, psychomotor learning speed, memory, reaction times, and focus.

Caffeine Benefit #4:
Caffeine Improves Mood

The research is clear: a few hits of caffeine per day keeps the head doctor away.

Studies show that caffeine enhances mood and that depression is lower among people that drink coffee or tea regularly.

How Much Caffeine Should You Have?

For most us, the question isn’t whether you we should have caffeine or not, but how much.

Most of caffeine’s benefits are seen in the range of 200 to 400 mg per day, and an extensive review of caffeine research concluded that intake shouldn’t exceed 6 mg caffeine per kg of body weight per day (about 400 mg for the average person).

If you’re curious how much your favorite caffeinated beverages actually contain, look them up in this database.

If you’re taking caffeine to increase physical performance, and you want to keep it maximally effective, you want to prevent your body from building up too much of a tolerance. The best way to do this is to limit intake. Here’s what I recommend:

Before training, supplement with 3 – 6 mg caffeine per kg of body weight. 

If you’re not sure of your caffeine sensitivity, start with 3 mg/kg and work up from there.

Keep your daily intake at or below 6 mg per kg of body weight. 

Don’t have 6 mg/kg before training and then drink a couple of coffees throughout the day.

Do 1 – 2 low-caffeine days per week, and 1 no-caffeine day per week. 

A low day should be half your normal intake, and a no day means less than 50 mg of caffeine (you can have a cup or two of tea, but no coffee, caffeine pills, etc.).

The Bottom Line

The research is clear: when used sensibly, caffeine is pretty awesome and well deserves its place in our hearts (and adenosine-receptors).

Unless you’re particularly sensitive to its effects, there’s just no reason to not enjoy your coffee, tea, chocolate, or pre-workout drinks regularly.

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  • Lansdale Robinson

    If you’re ever in London (UK) I can highly recommend Kaffeine just off Oxford Street. … unreal unlike any coffee I’ve ever tasted. Think it was voted the best in London

    • Michael Matthews

      I actually will be in London next year but hate coffee, haha. Love the smell, HATE the taste.

      • Joy McReynolds Bradford

        I thought I was the only person who loves the smell of coffee and hates the taste. Actually, I only like the smell of the beans, or grounds, once you run water through them, the smell makes me ill.

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha high five! Same here actually. Beans smell delicious. The beverage smells horrible.

  • Thanks for validating my ongoing love affair with coffee. One question, somewhat related: Have you ever had to deal with that afternoon, post lunch fatigue? I sometimes deal with a brain fog between like 3-7pm that hurts the home stretch of my work day, often followed ironically with a sudden burst of mental energy when bedtime approaches. I’m working on ways to deal with this, if you have any experience/advice on this, Mike, that would be awesome.

  • Thanks for validating my ongoing love affair with coffee. One question, somewhat related: Have you ever had to deal with that afternoon, post lunch fatigue? I sometimes deal with a brain fog between like 3-7pm that hurts the home stretch of my work day, often followed ironically with a sudden burst of mental energy when bedtime approaches. I’m working on ways to deal with this, if you have any experience/advice on this, Mike, that would be awesome.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha my pleasure. 🙂

      Yeah man it hits me sometimes around 4PM, but honestly I think it’s more related to the work I’m doing at that time, which tends to be boring drudgery, lol. If I’m doing something interesting I don’t tend to get sleepy at this time.

      That said, what I do is just take a few minutes to get up and walk around. Heading outside for a few minutes and looking around can be enough.

      Or you can caffeinate, haha. Rutaecarpine can help clear it out of your system before sleep:

      http://www.amazon.com/Rutaesomn-Natural-Acting-Removes-Caffeine/dp/B007DKXR64/?tag=mflweb-20

    • ktgibbs

      This is solely why coffee is distrubing your entire system. Cortisol and sugar balance. Its a nightmare. Get off the sugar and coffee. you will feel better for it.

  • IgnoreLimits

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve got my first professional shoot in 5 days and will be coming in around 8%.
    As a natural would you recommend tinkering around with sodium and water? or even carb depletion?
    Appreciate your advice!
    SJ

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice! I wouldn’t, no. Keep everything balanced. You can reduce carbs to 0.5 grams per pound for 3-4 days, then start carbing up the night before the shoot (end the day at about 1 to 1.5 g/lb), and continue dry carbs the day of (rice cakes work well). Don’t drink too much water the day of either. Save until after shoot.

  • Ian

    I’m with what Pete said….It’s between about those hours. Which is rough because I workout in the evening (usually around 6-6:30). Any recommendations for caffeine supplementing to help with that? Maybe I need to get me some Pulse….. haha 😉

    • Michael Matthews

      I hear you. Check out my reply to Pete’s comment.

  • London Bill

    I don’t know where I’d be without my cup of Joe as our American cousins would say. On a recent trip to New York and Chicago I was in seventh heaven with a coffee shop every 100 yards. On a more serious note: For me it’s a real mood lifter; Any pre-work out doubts or negativity are dispelled by a good hit of Americano. I am literally raring to go! I first picked up on this when I started running in the 80s and Dr Mike Sheehan (an early distance running guru) was extolling its use in the same way as you do Mike. Pity you can’t drink it yourself!

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha I’m honestly jealous that you like coffee that much because I’d love to have that experience ever day. I just HATE the taste.

      Yeah caffeine elevates mood. Caffeine + theanine does even more so.

      I have caffeine every day in my pre-workout. 🙂

      • Ilham

        Ha Ha. I actually drink it mostly for the taste.

        But after reading this article I’ll probably start incorporating a small cup before workouts as well.

        • Michael Matthews

          It’ll help.

  • Mayur

    Hey hi mike!!! It’s said that creatine and caffeine do not go together…as creatine basically is used as a cell volumizer which it does with the help of water and caffeine dehydrates you??? How is it possible to have both then can u plz explain.. How much time before the workout should caffeine and creatine be had respectively!!!!

  • Shaun

    Hi Mike – Poor you! I thought all Americans were programmed at birth to like weak, insipid coffee! Have you ever read anything about Coffee (or caffeine – can’t remember now) interfering with nutrient absorption if you have it with meals? I read about it a long time ago, but haven’t seen anything since (and I have just had my lunch and fancy a cup ….)

    • Michael Matthews

      Hahah. Based on the papers I read before writing this, there’s insufficient evidence to support those claims.

  • Paul Fisher

    Mike,

    Can there be adverse effects by foam rolling TOO much? Twice a day should be beneficial right?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah you are causing small amounts of damage to the muscles so you could overdo it, theoretically. Twice per day for 5-10 minutes should be fine, yes.

  • Ilham

    Hey Mike,

    Nice article, enjoyed it. I noticed in the section “How much caffeine should you have?” you made a small typo. I believe intake shouldn’t exceed 6mg/kg, not 0.6mg? Am I correct?

    Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yes that was a typo. Doh.

  • Crispin

    Similar to Shaun’s question below….I’m curious about the effects on the digestive tract. I’ve come across stuff suggesting it’s too acidic, or that it throws off the digestive flora, etc. Do you know if it interferes with healthy digestion in any way?

    • Michael Matthews

      Based on the papers I studied before writing this, there’s no evidence that regular, moderate caffeine use harms the digestive tract.

  • Brian

    I seem to be having problems with the math. You mention that it’s OK to have .6mg of caffeine per kg of body weight. So as a 169lb person (76.6kg) I don’t understand. .6mg x 76.6kg = 45.96. Where did I miss it?
    Looks like it should be 6mg per kg instead of .6mg

    • Michael Matthews

      Doh! Fixed. Sorry.

  • Parikshit Jaiswal

    are green tea caffeine and normal coffee caffeine or a bit different?

    • Michael Matthews

      The molecules themselves are the same.

  • Jeremy

    Hi mike
    I have come across a few scientific studies suggesting caffeine can impair insulin sensitivity.
    I love coffee myself but I do have a predisposition to insulin resistance so don’t want to make it worse
    Of course there are many studies saying opposite conclusions but I would be really interested in your thoughts here.
    Thx
    Jeremy

    • Michael Matthews

      I’ve seen research showing a drop for an hour or so after ingestion, yes, but regular use doesn’t change your “baseline” sensitivity.

      • Jeremy

        Ok thx for the reply that makes sense as with adrenaline etc seems to be more of fat burning rather than storage situation
        Thank you

        • Michael Matthews

          YW 🙂

  • Pingback: The Definitive Guide on How to Overcome Fatigue | Muscle For Life()

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  • Ahmed Fazil

    Nice article Mike. I got here after watching your youtube video on fatburners. Fantastic article you have got here.
    (1) Caffeine and other stimulants: I read in an article that intake of caffeine and other stimulants causes Cortisol to be released in the body and affects the adrenal gland. Hence, as a result continuous use of caffeine and other stimulants (ephedrine or sinephrine) can cause increased cortisol which in turn facilitates fat storage and cause adrenal fatigue right? I want to know how much truth there is in this article or is it a load of BS??

    • Thanks!

      If you ABUSE caffeine it could become a problem but the literature shows moderate use doesn’t harm your health.

  • TylerL

    Mike,
    Have you ever considered making a coffee flavored preworkout? I started pulse recently and love it for preworkout. Only problem is now I have to skip the coffee to keep caffeine intake in check. I know a couple of supplement companies that have put out coffee flavors, but their formulations are crap. I know that you don’t like the flavor of coffee, but it would be awesome for coffee lovers so they can get the best of both worlds. I guess for now I will have to switch to tea.

    • That’s an interesting idea. I’ll make a note. Thanks for the support my man.

  • Taylor Kuzik

    Pulse is my go-to caffeine because it’s properly dosed and the energy it gives lasts all day without giving me jitters or feel like my heart’s going to explode. I’ve been using the 4 weeks on, 1 week off cycle you suggested, Mike. To give my body a break. It’s cool that you don’t need to cycle Pulse as a whole. Of course that option is still out there. Another perk about Pulse is that the tub comes to you full instead of halfway like other pre-workouts do. Have yet to try the blue raspberry flavor of Pulse, currently on the fruit punch. I have no caffeine on rest days because that would be pointless so I sometimes a Bai anti-oxidant infused flavored water. There’s no sugar or added sugar, has only 5 calories and 45mg of caffeine, similar to a cup of green tea. Of course, I immediately switch back to water to keep my hydrated.

    • Glad to hear you’re enjoying Pulse, Tyler! Good schedule you have going too.

      • Taylor Kuzik

        It’s Taylor, not Tyler. On rest days, I do experience the drowsiness that comes with not taking caffeine but it doesn’t cause insulin/blood sugar spikes like high glycemic or highly processed foods do. That would be ridiculous, lol. There’s also a decaffeinated version of green tea that’s also effective if fat loss is the goal since the EGCG is where the BMR boost in green tea comes from. The health “gurus” who came up with these myths just to deter us from having a cup of coffee in the morning need to be re-educated. Most sensible adults generally have a cup or two of coffee to start their day. It’s advised not to drink any caffeine a few hours prior since THAT would be where it impair sleep. It’s said that caffeine reduces hunger to some degree.

        It’s nice that we can stack Pulse with Forge or Phoenix to increase fat loss. Forge and Phoenix are the only fat burners out there with no caffeine in them. I don’t understand how stimulant-free fat burners have CLA or raspberry ketones because CLA’s effective at burning fat is controversial and there’s no evidence to show raspberry ketones work at all.

        • Sorry about that, Taylor 🙂

          You’ll find a lot of supplement products will have ineffective ingredients and dosages, unfortunately.

          • Taylor Kuzik

            Sad but true.

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