Caffeine: Hero or Zero
Caffeine is the most widely used, legal drug consumed on an everyday basis. Beginning in the morning and continuing into the late afternoon, it is consumed habitually without much thought. But what is it actually doing to our system? Do we need it like we think we do? Can we become addicted to it? Are there better alternatives? Read on to find out….
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant meant to decrease drowsiness and increase alertness and even help aid in training performance. Its no wonder we turn to it whenever in a rush and need a quick pick me up. Once consumed, caffeine levels peak around an hour later and can remain in the system for 4-6 hours.
If you’re new to caffeine supplementation or consumption you’ll notice its effects right away with some including increased heart rate, increased mental awareness, dry mouth, the jitters, and sometimes headaches or dizziness. Caffeine is known to be a diuretic, which means it causes the body to lose more water. Be sure to stay hydrated when drinking beverages containing caffeine or taking caffeine supplements.
When caffeine is part of people’s everyday routine they can become dependent or addicted. Of course more and more will have to be consumed to produce the same effects within the body due to the increased tolerance of the substance. Moderate amounts of caffeine are not harmful in daily doses of 100-200mg, which is equivalent to 1-2 five-ounce cups of coffee. Some may read that and chuckle at what seems to be such a minute amount compared to their 6-7 cups a day, but caffeine overdose can be dangerous and deadly.
This article is not meant to scare you away from caffeine, but to make aware of the substance and its effects. Lets talk about some of its positive benefits related to exercise. When we exercise our bodies primarily run off carbohydrates or stored sugar from our muscles and liver. Caffeine can help by slowing how quickly we burn through those sugar stores. It helps ignite fat for fuel and partly spares muscle glycogen, allowing us to train longer and harder. It can also give us a perceived higher pain tolerance, which may help dull the burning sensation in our muscles during intense workouts. The recommended dose of caffeine supplementation is 3‐6 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight. For example a 140 pound individual would be safe to consume anywhere from 200-350 milligrams of caffeine before exercise. Be advised not to consume caffeine too late in the day as it can affect sleep quality. Caffeine also has a thermogenic effect as it heats up the internal core temperature to help burn more calories at rest.
When looking to burn additional calories, caffeine is definitely a friend to call on. Supplemented correctly, its proven to show benefits during exercise. From acting as a thermogenic to delaying the onset of fatigue, caffeine supplementation is worth looking into. Be smart, take a correct dose, and stay hydrated, and see for yourself if caffeine and its effects are right for you.
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