Pocket Guide to Caffeine Benefits and Uses
Caffeine has been utilized as a stimulant for thousands of years. It is a naturally produced alkaloid found in coffee, cocoa, tea, colas and other drinks or foods which are plant-based.
There is approximately one hundred milligrams of caffeine in a cup of freshly brewed coffee, while a cup of instant will contain around eighty milligrams. Regular iced or brewed tea will carry forty milligrams. Cocoa powder has the most caffeine in the chocolate family, with dark chocolates containing varying amounts of caffeine.
Although most individuals think milk chocolate contains a substantial amount of caffeine, it really doesn’t. Your standard sized chocolate bar only as twelve milligrams of caffeine, hardly enough to affect the nervous system.
Caffeine can be physiologically and psychologically addicting, and the person who is accustomed to having certain amounts of caffeine in their system daily may actually suffer from withdrawal systems if denied that amount of caffeine.
Is Caffeine Harmful?
As far as being healthy, caffeine is not harmful when ingested in moderate amounts, such as when someone has three or four cups of coffee throughout a day. However, some individuals may react differently to caffeine and experience nervousness, heart palpitations, and fatigue.
Caffeine as a Supplement
As a supplement used by endurance athletes and weight trainers, caffeine has been shown to increase the availability of energy and focus when preforming in an athletic event or participating in a workout session.
The average amount of caffeine used as a supplement ranges anywhere from three to six milligrams per one pound of body weight, which calculates out to be around 350 milligrams of caffeine for someone who weighs 190 pounds. Although this may seem like a substantial amount of caffeine, someone who immediately begins working out is going to utilize the stimulating effects of caffeine and not be detrimentally affected by it. On the other hand, someone who takes that much caffeine then tries to sit still and do nothing is definitely going to feel something that may make them somewhat uncomfortable!
Caffeine Supplement Benefits and Research
Caffeine supplements will increase blood flow from the heart to all parts of the body, which is beneficial to the weight trainer and those muscles which need all the nutrient-rich blood they can receive during an intense workout session. The surge of adrenaline that caffeine instigates also produces the release of extra glucose and oxygen into muscles which allows the trainer to push himself as far as he can go without suffering from premature muscle collapse and fatigue.
In addition, research has indicated that caffeine may delay the beginning of muscle fatigue by promoting the utilization of fat reserves by the body instead of glycogen for energy. This is a process called “glycogen sparing”, which basically describes how keeping glycogen levels from depleting can prevent muscle breakdown. Another benefit caffeine is thought to have for athletes is its ability to release endorphins, which help lessen feelings of pain.
Caffeine supplements will increase blood flow from the heart to all parts of the body, which is beneficial to the weight trainer.
Although short in duration, the glycogen sparing effect is evident during aerobic as well as endurance activities. Researchers think that a short-term benefit of caffeine may be based in its ability to decrease lactic acid levels. When stores of glycogen are used up in the muscles, lactic acid takes its place, which is where that burning sensation in the muscles comes from during intense physical activity.
In 2009, researchers at the University of Illinois discovered that if someone takes 300 milligrams of caffeine before working out, the severity of that burning sensation is greatly reduced. In addition, caffeine may also benefit the ratio of potassium and calcium ions within muscle cells, which allow these cells to manufacture more power and endurance for the muscles being used.
Final Thoughts on Caffeine Supplementation
There is a downside to caffeine supplement use. Just like other drugs, the body will become accustomed to having caffeine regularly provided and the nervous system will discontinue being affected by the drug.
Having one or two cups of coffee will not initiate this condition of tolerance, but drinking more than four or five cups of coffee a day definitely will! So don’t let yourself become habituated to the stimulating effects of caffeine.
If you use it as a supplement, take it about an hour before working out and limit yourself to one or maybe two cups of coffee a day.