Caffeine is probably the most popular and widely used stimulant around the world. Each day, millions of people rely on caffeine in different forms to wake up, work, perform. For some, it is an absolute necessity to push through that night shift or afternoon slump.
It can be found in coffee, tea, soda, chocolates, medicines, and of course in the majority of the sports nutrition supplements.
It is one of the most sought after and discussed the supplement in the fitness industry. This natural stimulant has been reportedly shown to be effective in enhancing energy production, hence making it very popular for endurance exercises and high-intensity activities.
There are also some negative points like anxiety and sleep disruptions that do arise while discussing caffeine.
So, What’s the Truth? Is Caffeine Good or Bad for Your Health?
There are thousands of studies done on caffeine examining its benefits and downsides. Institute of Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University is one of the many institutes, that is dedicated to research on human dimensions of coffee production, trade, and consumption.
Generally, for most people, consuming caffeine is beneficial and poses no serious health risk if taken within safe amounts.
What is the safe amount for caffeine consumption?
According to Dr. Stephen Juraschek, an internal medicine specialist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, an individual who doesn’t have any heart or blood pressure complications can consume up to 400 mg per day. This amount is considered to be safe and isn’t linked to any long-term effect on blood pressure, heart, or stroke risk.
How Caffeine Works?
Now that we know the safe amounts of caffeine consumption, let’s understand how it functions in our body.
Once consumed, caffeine is absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream quickly and reaches the liver, where it is broken down and transported around the body.
So, lets quickly look at some of the benefits of caffeine?
- Boosts Your Metabolism & Fat Burning
Consumption of caffeine kickstarts the process of lipolysis, which is a process where your body releases the free fatty acids into the bloodstream. This boosts your metabolism and aids in breaking down the fat stores to convert it into energy.
- Helps in Endurance & Performance
Since caffeine breaks down the fat stores and converts them into energy, it spares the muscle glycogen. Which means you will have more energy later during your endurance sports or workouts.
- Improves Mood and Brain Function
Caffeine is reported to have the ability to increase neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which improves mood, focus, alertness, and reaction time.
Coffee consumption is linked to several other health benefits like lower risk of diabetes, decreased risk of cancer relating to the liver & skin, improved gut health, and prevents gout.
Safety and Side Effects of Caffeine
As we discussed before, 400 mg of caffeine per day is considered safe. There are several side effects recorded in individuals consuming more than the safe amount.
Some of the side effects include anxiety, sleep disorders, and restlessness. And since caffeine metabolism is slower among kids and pregnant women, it is highly recommended for them to avoid it completely.
Best Sources of Caffeine and Sources to Avoid
Although there are many sources of caffeine, all of them are not the same. Caffeine from natural sources like organic coffee beans, tea leaves, or its extracts is recommended the most.
Synthetic caffeine that is used in most of the supplements and caffeine from energy drinks and high-calorie sodas are to be avoided at all costs. They do more harm than good.
It is better to stick with black coffee and tea. When it comes to supplements, look out for companies like Kaged Muscle who use PurCaf organic caffeine which is patented and has many studies to back its safety and authenticity.
Caffeine in moderate amounts is beneficial and unlikely to produce any side-effects. Having said that, it is always recommended to consult your doctor as its effects may wary on individual factors like lifestyle and genetics.