When talking about caffeine, we’re not referring to an ultra-caramel Frappuccino, which is loaded with added sugars and are surprisingly high in calories (around 500 calories depending on where you buy them from, scary, I know). Although there is caffeine in these sorts of drinks, We’re referring to pure caffeine.

Caffeine is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and blood levels peak after around 90-100 minutes post ingestion. Caffeine levels remain high for around 3-4 hours then start to drop, so probably best not to consume caffeine close to bed-time. A few of the benefits of caffeine are as follows:

  • Caffeine activates areas of the brain and nervous system to improve energy and focus, while reducing tiredness.
  • Adrenaline is released when consuming caffeine which can increase exercise performance.
  • Caffeine increases lipolysis, which is the breakdown of fat in cells. This doesn’t mean drinking 10 cups of coffee a day will mean you can eat whatever you like. Energy balance (calories in vs calories out) is still important.
  • Certain studies have shown that caffeine may impact the motor cortex, the motor cortex is an area of the brain that signals muscle activation.
  • Caffeine increases thermogenesis (heat production) which helps you burn more calories.
  • Caffeine may also spare muscle carb stores, primarily due to increased fat burning. This can enhance endurance performance

Quite an impressive list of benefits when it comes down to health and fitness! If we break the different types of physical exercise down into different categories such as endurance, high-intensity and strength training, research has been conducted on these individually also. When it comes to endurance exercise subjects were able to cover 1.3 – 2 miles more than the placebo group. For high-intensity exercise the research is mixed, is seems as though caffeine shows a significant improvement in trained athlete’s but an insignificant improvement in untrained recreational trainers. The evidence for strength based training is also hit and miss. Some studies have found that ingestion of caffeine before training a big muscle group shows an increase in the ability to lift heavier wherever smaller muscle groups show no difference. Caffeine does however increase the amount of repetitions that can be performed at the same weight, which is a form of progressive overload, a key building block to gaining muscle.

Due to the above benefits, most weight loss and pre-work out supplements include caffeine. Dose is often based on body weight, set at around 1.4–2.7 mg per lb of body weight (3–6 mg per kg). This is about 200–400 mg for most people, although some studies use up to 600–900 mg. Tolerances for caffeine vary from individual to individual based on body weight and diet. If you regularly consume coffee, energy drinks and soft drinks containing caffeine you may developed a higher tolerance so may need a higher dosage to see the benefits. If you wish to use caffeine for athletic performance, you should also save it for key events or races, in order to maintain sensitivity to its effects. For optimal performance, take it about 60 minutes before a race or event. However, make sure to test this protocol first if you’re not used to taking caffeine.

It’s now only right that we go over some of the side-effects of too much caffeine. These are as follows,

  • Increased heart rate.
  • Anxiety.
  • Dizziness.
  • Insomnia or sleep disruption.
  • Irritability.
  • Tremors.
  • Stomach discomfort.

High doses of 600 mg have been shown to increase tremors and restlessness, especially for people who are not used to caffeine. People who are prone to anxiety may also want to avoid high doses.

\caffeine seems to have an abundance of benefits if used correctly and is relatively cheap!