Pros and Cons of Caffeine
Coffee is religion to some people, and a ritual many cannot do without. So, when articles and research report mixed reviews on the pros and cons of caffeine’, java-lovers become confused and unsure about their precious mugs of sunshine. Should caffeine be a part of a healthy lifestyle? At the end of the day it varies based on the individual. As you’ve experienced with the 131 Method so far, we help you figure out what works best for your body. We distill information so you can make educated decisions.
What is Caffeine:
Caffeine is a plant alkaloid found naturally in coffee, tea and cocoa. It’s also added to many soft drinks and pre-workout supplements; it’s the most widely consumed psychoactive drug. Caffeine elicits its effects on the body by blocking the action of our “brakes” (adenosine receptors), increasing neural activity, arousal, and preventing sleep.
- Improves athletic performance (one of the most highly studied ergogenic aids) (1)
- Boosts mood and energy levels
- Can improve cognitive function/mental alertness
- Moderate caffeine consumption, from coffee specifically, may lower risk for type 2 diabetes and improve glycemic control (2)
- Moderate coffee consumption may have protective effects against cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s (3)
- Caffeine can be habit forming. Withdrawal messes with serotonin and dopamine levels and can produce symptoms like headaches, shakiness and nausea
- Interferes with the onset of sleep, reduces total sleep time and sleep quality depending on dose, timing, and the individual (4)
- Can cause anxiety, heart palpitations, and transient elevations in the stress hormone, cortisol
The biggest difference in how caffeine impacts each person has to do with your genes. You can either be a “fast” or “slow” caffeine metabolizer. The fast metabolizers seem to reap the most benefits from caffeine. Slow metabolizers are more susceptible to some of the negative impacts like: anxiety, irregular heart beats, and sleep disturbances because caffeine stays in their systems much longer. You can do genetic testing like 23andMe to determine your caffeine metabolism rate (the specific gene is CYP1A1) or you can simply pay attention to how you feel during and after caffeine consumption.
Use Caffeine to your Advantage:
If you tolerate caffeine well and want to use some of the effects to your advantage, try using caffeine before a workout. Studies show that caffeine reduces the rate of perceived exertion, meaning you can push it a little harder in your workouts. In addition, caffeine may increase mobilization of free fatty acids during endurance activities – sparing muscle glycogen and improving fat burning capacity. The pros and cons of caffeine here are pretty strong for gym junkies!
When to Reconsider your Caffeine Intake:
If you notice you feel anxious or jittery when consuming caffeine, or if it impacts the duration or quality of your sleep at night, it might be a good idea to do a trial run of reducing or eliminating your caffeine intake. If you are peri or menopausal and suffer from hot flashes, keep in mind that caffeine is a common trigger. Another time to reconsider caffeine is if you feel like you’ve formed a dependence. If you can’t fathom getting through the day without it, it’s time to start figuring out what the underlying issues contributing to your low energy are, because in this instance, caffeine is just acting as a band-aid.
The research shows us there are some positive effects of a moderate caffeine intake but that certain people react poorly to caffeine. Ultimately, it comes down to your own experiments to determine whether or not caffeine should be a part of your healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s a pro or a con for you, do it because it makes YOU feel your best and moves you closer to your goals.