Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What are the health effects of caffeine?

I drink coffee, tea, Diet Coke and the occasional energy drink - and they all have one thing in common.  That would be - you guessed it - caffeine.  While caffeine definitely has its perks, it can pose some problems as well.

Do you rely on caffeine to wake you up and keep you going?  Well, you aren’t alone.  Caffeine is used by millions of people every day to increase wakefulness, alleviate fatigue and improve concentration and focus.  In fact, second only to water, coffee is the most consumed beverage on earth.  Sometimes, this can become a health issue.

What are the health effects of caffeine?

Caffeine is a powerful stimulant, and it can be used to improve physical strength and endurance if used properly.  However, it can also have some very bad side effects on your health if over used and over consumed.

Where can caffeine be found and is there a difference?

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, soda pop and in a pill form.  Caffeine that you find in sodas, pill form, or in the majority of energy drinks, are synthetic versions of caffeine which are generally not  the highest and best form of caffeine that you want to be consuming.  When you add in the sugar levels that are present in sodas and most energy drinks, you're looking at an additional stimulant and lots of calories as well.  If you're going to consume caffeine, it should (ideally) only come from coffee, green tea or an all-natural type of energy drink.  If you want the very best, the cleanest and most natural energy drink on the market is Energize by Beachbody.  This product can be found in their top selling Performance Nutrition Line.  There's nothing else like it.

How much is too much and what are the health effects of caffeine?

Some research says that up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults.  The key word here is “Appears”.  The newest science has shown that low doses of caffeine may have beneficial effects on the body, where high doses can hinder how the body operates.  Caffeine dosages really should be tailored to each individual.  If you like caffeine or supplements that contain caffeine, keeping consumption at 100 mg or lower per 'dose' would be a good idea.  Typically, 200 mg or less of caffeine has shown to have fat-burning and performance improvement properties.  Heavy caffeine use (more than 400 mg a day) can cause unpleasant side effects such as: insomnia, high blood pressure, headaches, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, digestion issues, bloating, rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, exhaustion and even weight gain.

The fact is, depending on your consumption, cutting back on caffeine can be challenging.  An abrupt decrease in caffeine may cause withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, irritability and nervousness - i.e. some of the same effects as too much caffeine!  Fortunately, these symptoms are usually mild and resolve after a few days.

To have health effects of caffeine that will benefit you, try these tips to get your consumption in line:
  • Keep tabs. Start paying attention to how much caffeine you’re getting from foods and beverages. It may be more than you think. Read labels carefully. Even then, your estimate may be a little low because not all foods or drinks list caffeine.
  • Cut back. Remember to do it gradually. Decrease the amount by a few ounces each day. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day. This will help your body get used to the lower levels of caffeine and lessen potential withdrawal effects.
  • Go decaf. Most decaffeinated beverages look and taste the same as their caffeinated counterparts.
  • Shorten the brew time or go herbal. When making tea, brew it for less time. This cuts down on its caffeine content. Choose herbal teas that don’t have caffeine.
  • Check the bottle. Some over-the-counter pain relievers contain caffeine, and can be as much as 130 mg of caffeine in one dose. Look for caffeine-free pain relievers instead.
The bottom line is that caffeine can be a part of your daily routine if consumed at doses that benefit your health versus hinder it.  When done this way, most of the time it doesn’t pose a health problem.  Be mindful of those situations in which you need to curtail your caffeine habit. 

Once again: If you plan on using nutritional supplements that have caffeine, make sure that they're a high quality product that uses naturally low doses of caffeine, such as the Energize from the Beachbody Performance Line.  Also, keep in mind that when consuming these products you may have to keep your other caffeine beverages to lower levels.

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