A Quick Note On Caffeine.


Don’t you love it. I still find it hard to believe that it has remained legal through modern time considering its serious effects if abused. I think it’s because it chooses smart places to hide: delicious timeless beverages.

This post goes as response to a user’s comment “How does caffeine affect the metabolism?”

Well now, that depends.

Caffeine, from the french word cafeine, is quite an interesting little bugger. Caffeine is a bitter alkaloid (a chemical compound, naturally occurring that is, composed of mostly basic nitrogen atoms) which mainly stimulates the nervous system. It is said to improve focus and relieve fatigue. But then again other research says that the fatigue relieving is just the kick from the overnight caffeine withdrawal.

What am I getting at? There is no clear, one side story that describes caffeine and its “beneficial effects.” There is however, enough research to consider lowering our daily intake of said alkaloid. Lets talk numbers. Caffeine is naturally found in a number of plants, most important to us tea and coffee. The number two and three most consumed beverages in the world, after water. Would you like me to repeat that? Two of the top three most consumed beverages in the world are packed with a very powerful nervous stimulator. And yet we, as the vigorous consumers we are, drink 3 or 4 cups of these beverages a day. And I’m talking eight ounces per cup, because if you think that draining your Super Big Gulp counts as one cup of coffee, guess again. 8. Yes, 8. And its not just 8 cups of coffee. Its eight cups of standard american brewed coffee.

Have you ever been into a cafe and heard that weary eyed customer needing a pick-me-up order a double espresso, naively thinking his espresso has more caffeine to wake him up? Yes, I’ve heard it too. And yes, espresso does contain more caffeine in proportion to the amount of water (80mg to 150mg of caffeine, depending on the espresso, to 1 oz water). But not total! One cup, 8 fl oz, of drip brewed coffee contains anywhere from 150mg-300mg of caffeine! So, stop buying Big Gulps of coffee. Or tea for that matter. An 8oz cup of tea contains about 50mg of caffeine. Given, these are all generalizations and the roast on the coffee or the processing of the tea greatly determine the final amount in your cup, along with the grind (for coffee) and its brew time and quantity exposed to water. But still, there is no need for 1 million mg of caffeine. 100mg a day will suffice.

So how does it affect your metabolism? In the simplest of terms, it speeds it up. Heart rate, digestion, and overall processing act faster. How does this affect you? Well you tell me. How does caffeine affect you? Habituation is easy to achieve considering many of us consume a daily cup (or two.) Tolerance for caffeine is quickly built, so a cup of coffee will affect you very differently now than in three days, if during that period you consumed comparable quantities of the lovely substance. But habituation has its consequences: withdrawal. Once you’ve become hooked on caff, your body responds by producing more adenosine  (a neurotransmitter that controls energy transfer), and  once you stop drinking that caff, the adenosine continues. Don’t get scared, just for a couple of days. But those can get to be two terrible days.

Caffeine affects everybody very differently. It peaks anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours form consumption, and starts becoming completely metabolized anywhere from 3 to 7 hours after consumption. It is important that you become comfortable enough with it to have a sit down conversation and come to an agreement on how much it’s allowed to “speed you up.” I find I work wonderfully on caffeine, but after a certain amount I crash. Or better said, notice the crash. I restrict my caffeine intake to 16 fl oz a day (and here I’m unspecific: shoot for tea or coffee) and no more than 4 days a week. Presumably  creating a milder habituation, ridding the withdrawal days away.

Recap. Low or moderate doses = Concentration, quick reflexes, and high muscle energy production. High doses = Restlessness, weariness, insomnia, and in my opinion the yearning for more of it, because isn’t caffeine what cures all these symptoms?

Basically, stay informed. I hope this information answers the commenter’s question and leads to a better relationship with caffeine. For all of us.

Until soon.

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Comments
2 Responses to “A Quick Note On Caffeine.”
  1. maría "La jefa" says:

    I know herbal infusions like mint or cammomile are not tea and I do not know if they have caffeine. Do you suggest to avoid drinking coffe will improve my health? But dont you think there are more and more prohibitions every day?. of the 8 glasses of liquid every day. Tell me a reasonable list of options to be happy and healthy.
    Thank you for you response.
    i wish to contribute to tablecloth with recepies from mazapil

    • lalinpv says:

      Most herbal infusions contain no caffeine. In fact camomile (along with lavender, skullcap, and valerian) are all very relaxing herbs and are great for pre-sleep drinking. Coffee can be packed with antioxidants so a cup of coffee can be great. Controlling your caffeine intake is about learning how it affects your body. Next time you drink coffees, try to pay more attention to how it makes you feel. Also change the times at which you drink coffee (before meals or after meals) and see how the effects are different. Play around, you’ll quickly become aware of how to use it best. It is also a delicious beverage and in no way should be prohibited. Nothing should really be prohibited form a diet, moderation and variation will help you achieve that goal.

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