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ShFit Talk #25 - Caffeine: Need it, Love it, but what is too much?

Caffeine, I don’t know about you but I need it and I love it! Personally, I may not be a coffee fan, I will leave that to my husband, but I get my caffeine fix in other ways! I go with tea, pre-workout and recently I found these Ice Water with Caffeine (70 g caffeine, 0 sugar & only 5 kcal!)

Ok, let's get back on topic! Caffeine is not only very widely available in the US, but very widely used! According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about 80% of American adults take some form of caffeine every day! I would have guessed it was higher, koods to all those who can manage without.

Not only does caffeine get you up and keep you up by blocking the adenosine (uh·deh·nuh·seen) receptors that make you feel sleepy, it also stimulates your central nervous system, boosts your mood and affects your body in other ways.

It only takes about 30-60 min for caffeine to reach its PEAK in your blood and can last up to 6 hours from the time you ingest it. So that 3 pm coffee at work can still be kicking at 9/10 at night making it difficult to fall asleep. However, caffeine is a drug and like all drugs it can have negative effects on your body and it is important to know the signs and know the long term effects.

Yes, caffeine is defined as a drug. This Is because it stimulates the central nervous system.

Caffeine provides no nutrition value and can come in many forms besides in your drinks. It can come in your food, like chocolate, in pain relievers and over the counter medications like Excedrin or Midol and even pill form.

As with all drugs over time you can get hooked and you can experience negative effects and even withdrawal symptoms. Too much caffeine can cause:

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia

  • Digestive issues

  • Muscle Breakdown

  • Addiction

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Rapid Heart Rate

  • Fatigue

  • Frequent Urination or the Need to Urinate

When you stop drinking it all together you start to experience withdrawal symptoms. You get all the fun negative effects of drinking too much caffeine plus some additional ones, such as headaches. How many times have you gotten that “caffeine headache” you know it is because you haven’t had any caffeine that day. It doesn’t take long for those withdrawal symptoms to start. Not even a full 24 hours. The blood vessels in your brain have just become so used to caffeine’s effects that if you suddenly stop consuming it, bam headache. You also experience irritability, that “Don’t talk to me until I have had my coffee” feeling, yup….withdrawal. In some people, sudden withdrawal may cause tremors.

In EXTREMELY rare cases you can even OD on the stuff….because yup….still a drug.

Some of the Symptoms of a caffeine overdose include:

  • confusion

  • hallucinations

  • vomiting

Sometimes an overdose can even result in death due to convulsions but let's get real, you have to consume a crazy crazy large amount of caffeine before you even get close to the OD area. This is most common when consuming massive amounts of energy drinks (pulling 36 hour shifts - poor residents and college students) or abusing diet pills. According to the Mayo Clinic up to 400 mg of caffeine a day is considered safe. That is about 4 8 oz cups of coffee or 1 16 oz can of Bang and 1 cup of coffee :-) It is important to be aware of your serving size and how big your coffee mug is!

As with any drug, if you consume the same amount every day, your body builds up a tolerance and it will take more and more to feel that kick that gets you going to start your day or start your workout. Not to mention the amount of caffeine your body can handle depends on you - your age, your body mass, your health, etc. So if you notice that you need more and more and more and you are starting to edge on the more dangerous side and instead of 400 mg you are consuming more like 800 mg maybe it is time to start decreasing your daily amount. But remember, this is an addiction so instead of just stopping cold turkey, taper it down slowly so your body doesn’t freak out leaving you with a banging headache ready to rip the throat out of anyone who comes within 10 feet of you as you sit at your desk hardly able to keep your eyes open because the this place sucks, the world sucks, everything sucks.

Caffeine isn’t all bad, like so many drugs out there it can actually help people and be beneficial when used responsibly. It can help improve cognitive performances, burn fat by boosting your metabolic rate by 3-11%, increase your physical performance (I mean it is in our pre-workout)

Studies have also found that people who drink coffee regularly actually have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s, Type 2 Diabetes and dementia. According to a study by the NHS (National Health Services) people who drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day were at a 45% reduced risk of suicide and people who drank 4 + where at a 53% reduced risk. We are talking about the good stuff...not decaf here.

Remember Caffeine is a drug, so if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding you shouldn’t consume large amounts of caffeine and of course children and adolescents should really watch the caffeine consumption but with everything if you fall into one of the “caution” categories it is always best to talk to your GP, because they know best!



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