As always, check with your doctor before using this advice.
The information in the post is about controlling your caffeine consumption, and how I use it to my benefit.
What is caffeine, and what it does to your brain/ body: Caffeine comes from coffee, some tea, and can be created in a lab. It’s classified as a psychoactive drug, and often labeled as a nootropic. It’s the most used drug in the world! I’m a big fan of this drug. It works so well because it’s a central nervous system stimulant that blocks the adenosine molecule in our body, one that makes us sleepy as the day goes on. It can help us focus, there are promising benefits towards improving athletic performance, and has amazing health benefits.
Caffeine choices: There are many options. Anything organic, chemical free is a quality choice. Coffee, certain teas, and dark chocolate.
How I use it
- In the morning:
Caffeine will compete with adenosine (sleepy time compound) caffeine typically wins that battle. It will also bring in a quality dosage of dopamine (Neuro chemical that plays a role in recognizing pleasure) to your brain. On top of that, it can help you focus. Wakefulness, pleasure, and focus three quality things to start your day off with.
- Before a workout, or a demanding event:
The research behind caffeine and athletic performance are immense due to its stimulant categorization. I was interested to find that multiple sources believed it should be banned for the Olympics… piquing my interest further. It can help improve endurance. Caffeine does so by reducing perceived fatigue levels. Interestingly enough for my sport, hockey, there have been many studies on the effects on anaerobic output. The studies are mixed, with the potential benefits focusing on one rep max improvements. There were minimal to no downsides of caffeine consumption found. Tom Brady would tell you otherwise (maybe we should listen to him?). In Tom Brady’s book TB12 Method, he claimed that coffee may be dehydrating. There is minimal scientific evidence that says this is true. Caffeine has a diuretic effect (makes you pee more) this may be where the GOAT is placing his belief behind. Lastly, caffeine reduces “sleepiness” I apologize for a lack of a more profound word. This mental and physical state is beneficial for athletics and exercise in general.
- Set a Caffeine Curfew
“The mean half-life of caffeine in plasma of healthy individuals is about 5 hours.” Depending on your body’s ability to metabolize caffeine, caffeine can be in your system for up to 9.5 hours. To avoid this, due to the harm it can have on sleep, I set a “caffeine curfew” 8 hours prior to my sleep time. Even if you can fall asleep with it in your system, it can reduce the amount of deep sleep you’re achieving.
- Keep it Clean
Many health and wellness books speak about the health benefits of coffee and caffeine. Ben Greenfield in his recent work Boundless states “Low doses of caffeine can improve mental performance and protect against Alzheimer’s”. (Greenfield, 2020). While this is exciting news, it omits the antioxidants present in the carriers of caffeine. Think green tea, organic coffee- both powerful blends of antioxidants. This can be better understood when evaluating Gary Wenk’s, quotation from his Your Brain on Food. “Overall, people who drink substantial amounts of coffee daily tend to live longer than people who do not”. Caffeine is great for our brain, but without the right drink itself we won’t gain the full benefits. That’s why my family drinks organic coffee which tends to have less chemicals, and more antioxidants. I personally love foursigmatic with the lions mane extract- a nice clean buzz I call it.
- Don’t over do it
CAFFIENDing, a caf(feind) someone who is constantly “feinding” caffeine- I just came up with that. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and as we know it’s even considered a nootropic. Make it work for you, don’t let it control your day. I like taking a full week off from caffeine here and there. This can help you control your tolerance to consistently receive the full benefits of it. Caffeine can increase adrenaline and cortisol, a stress hormone, in excess will give you that anxious feeling. For this reason, find your happy place- as caffeine has promising studies that show caffeine may reduce depression- most likely to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.
*There are studies that show caffeine can affect the absorption of magnesium- which is an important chemical for health (consider getting blood work done to check for magnesium deficiency, or ask your doctor about supplementation)
Resources, and links used
Your Brain on Food, Gary Wenk
Boundless, Ben Greenfield