All About Caffeine & How You Can Use it Smartly

Benefits of Caffeine

  • Caffeine has neuroprotective effects, provided intake is not excessive
  • Caffeine increases aerobic power throughout the entire menstrual cycle
  • The properties of caffeine may be protective against depression but unknown whether the correlation is direct or indirect
  • Caffeine consumption while fasting increases focus and alertness within 5 minutes that peaks at 30 minutes and lasts up to 60 minutes
  • Shortens reaction time if consumed about 30 minutes prior to the task
  • Lowers activation threshold of learning and memory (you can recall things easier)
  • Caffeine can increase physical performance enhancement, improve peak performance, increase aerobic endurance
  • Brief or extended breaks from caffeine can enhance the effects once you resume

Caffeine For Enhancing Mental Performance

  • Spiking adrenaline after learning can enhance memory and recall
  • Tip: abstain from caffeine when trying to learn something, then drink caffeine immediately after for improved memory
  • Ingesting caffeine prior to exercise further increases dopamine release – this has a few benefits, most importantly creating a positive feeling about the exercise and maybe changing your association with exercise if you don’t otherwise like it
  • This does not hold if you drink caffeine every time you exercise
  • Ingesting caffeine every other day can help you maximize the positive effects of caffeine without extended abstinence
  • Pro-health effects of caffeine (assuming you are getting good sleep):
    (1) neuroprotective effects – may offset some neurodegenerative diseases;
    (2) can diminish headache, particularly in combination with aspirin;
    (3) may provide brief but substantial relief from asthma;
    (4) improves focus and alertness in people with ADHD

Caffeine Myths & When To Avoid

Caffeine does not create or exacerbate osteoporosis

Caffeine does not appear to have a direct or indirect impact on estrogen or testosterone (i.e., caffeine does not appear to increase or decrease estrogen or testosterone)

But excessive caffeine intake does increase sex hormone binding globulin, though not to concerning levels

Avoid caffeine intake 12 hours prior to sleep – the quarter-life of caffeine is 12 hours

If you are not used to caffeine, avoid intake on days of tough physical or mental demands as the negative side effects may outweigh the benefits if you are not accustomed  

Don’t try the “napaccino” – ingesting caffeine in the late afternoon then taking a short nap, with the assumption that the caffeine will kick in when you wake up and you’ll feel stimulated


Optimizing Caffeine Intake

  • Bodyweight is a good measure of proper caffeine dose for your body: 1-3mg/kg body weight per setting
  • This dose will likely provide you with all the benefits without the jitters
  • Caffeine tolerance depends on one’s preexisting disposition (are you anxious, calm, stressed, etc.), caffeine tolerance
  • Some people will feel anxious with caffeine use, some will feel nothing – start low and increase if you’re just starting
  • Timing of intake: delay caffeine intake 90-120 minutes after waking most days – this will help you avoid afternoon crash and the need for that second cup of coffee in the afternoon which can disrupt the depth and quality of sleep
  • Adenosine builds up the longer we are awake, it’s lowest in the morning
  • Sets into motion cascade which will set you up for better sleep that night and more alertness the next day
  • If you wake up and do intense exercise within the first 90 minutes of waking, drink the caffeine before but the combination of caffeine and exercise may increase afternoon fatigue
  • If you really can’t delay caffeine, you can extend the arc of caffeine if you drink half when you wake up and half later
  • Caffeine has a more potent stimulant effect on an empty stomach (this may induce jitteriness which can be offset with 200-400mg of thionine)
  • Thionine has positive effects on sleep depth and duration, has antidepressant and antianxiety effects, and has endothelial benefits
  • You don’t have to take thionine every time you drink coffee throughout the day, just the first
  • Tip: if you regularly ingest caffeine, performance-enhancing effects will increase if you abstain for a few days and then start again

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