- 2 Benefits
- 3 Side effects/warnings
Caffeine (trimethylxanthine) is inexpensive, it can make you feel good, improves endurance and physical performance, can help burn fat and provides a number of other desired physical and mental benefits. Just look at the sheer number of coffee shops around the U.S. and you will easily understand one reason why caffeine is the most widely-consumed drug in the world.
Two-thirds of adult Americans drink coffee, a popular source of the stimulant, every day. However, coffee is not the only way to consume trimethylxanthine. There are natural and synthetic sources, as well. You can find this popular stimulant in teas, energy drinks, sodas, and even medications.
What is caffeine
In its raw form, caffeine is a bitter white powder. It's a powerful central nervous system stimulant that can boost alertness and provide energy throughout the day. It can also affect your mood and gastrointestinal activity. In these aspects, trimethylxanthine is similar to amphetamines, although with much milder side effects. Like stronger drugs, long-term consumption of caffeine can cause physical dependence.
Anyone who has ever drank a caffeinated beverage can attest to the fact that it can increase awareness and wakefullness. Studies also show how it benefits memory, concentration, creativity, athletic performance, and mood.
Caffeine has a positive effect on the nervous system, helping to reduce physical and mental fatigue and restore alertness and wakefulness. Trimethylxanthine also improves cognition, especially when you're sleep deprived, which makes it useful for those who work nights or need to postpone sleep for other reasons, such as studying or driving.
Memory and cognition
Even though it's a generally known fact that caffeine consumption can result in increased focus, better short-term memory, improved concentration, and enhanced problem solving and decision making skills, literature regarding its effects on memory vary widely. Researchers at the University of London found that 200mg of the stimulant increased working memory in extroverts. The same can be said for non-dependent coffee drinkers who were asked to complete a vigilance task after ingesting caffeine capsules in varying amounts: 0mg, 50mg, 150mg, and 450mg. The results revealed that acute doses of caffeine can enhance performance in light and non-dependent caffeine users, as it decreased reaction times in a vigilance task.
A newer study published in early 2014 in Nature Neuroscience showed that caffeine enhanced performance 24 hours after administration. The study concluded that moderate consumption may lead to enhanced consolidation of long-term memory in humans.
CreativityThere are also mixed findings when it comes to caffeine's effects on creativity. Because it increases focus on the task at hand, in effect it diminishes free associative thinking, which is important for fostering creativity. But then, this conjecture is countered by so many creative minds throughout history who were well-known heavy coffee drinkers, such as composers Ludwig van Beethoven and Gustav Mahler and playwright and novelist, Honor? de Balzac. Furthermore, according to an article in The Atlantic, what actually hinders creativity is not the amount of caffeine you consume, but lack of certain values, like commitment and initiative. A caffeinated beverage consumed in moderation will not outweigh the benefits of improved focus, stimulation, and disinhibition, which are all important in enhancing creativity.
A study of cyclists showed that drinking coffee one hour before cycling improved the athletes' moods throughout their 90-minute ride. This was in contrast to those who were given placebo prior to exercise, as their pleasure ratings were significantly lower compared to those in the caffeine group.
The expectation of drinking coffee is also enough to uplift an individual's mood, even if he was given a decaffeinated drink instead. In this aspect, coffee has a similar effect to placebo. People also report a dip in mood after the effects of the stimulant wear off. Of note, moderate doses of caffeine have been known to reduce the risk of suicide and depression.
Caffeine is one of the most common ingredients included in many weight loss supplements
Caffeine is a known ergogenic substance because of its ability to enhance one's physical performance. Even though its exact mechanism of action remains unclear, evidence suggests that it can increase the force of skeletal muscle contraction by releasing calcium from muscle. As a result, trimethylxanthine has become a known ingredient in many pre-workout supplements and energy drinks. Aside from sugar, water, and electrolytes, many energy drinks contain about 80mg of caffeine, which is roughly the same amount found in a cup of coffee. This boosts stamina and performance among athletes by as much as 5% -- also evidenced by quite a number of different studies.
A 2010 systematic review of 29 studies on the effect of caffeine on short-term performance showed significant improvements with regard to power-based sports and team sports exercises. However, this improvement was only evident in athletes who are not regular caffeine consumers. Another study involving common ingredients in dietary supplements revealed that trimethylxanthine can give a much needed boost in single and multiple sprint sports, which are highly dependent upon short boosts of energy. In fact, one study demonstrated that 21 physically active men gained a 1.4% reduction in fastest sprint time as a result of of caffeine supplementation.
Strength performance is another area that is positively affected by caffeine ingestion. This is partly due to the fact that people given low doses of the stimulant have decreased perception of pain in exhausting tasks, hence enabling them to finish the task at hand and increase power output. Furthermore, there is a reduction in delayed onset of muscle soreness 48 to 72 hours after performing strength exercises, allowing individuals to increase the number of sessions or continue working out when they would otherwise be in recovery mode.
People who engage in sports and exercises that require high endurance can also benefit from trimethylxanthine because of the reduction of perceived exertion and enhanced muscular contractile force. Combined with carbohydrates, caffeine ingestion posed a small but significant improvement in endurance performance as compared with the ingestion of carbohydrates alone. The effects of this substance in the body can last up to six hours, which is why redosing is not needed within that time frame. However, the improvement is only significant among people who are not regular coffee drinkers.
Metabolism and weight loss
Caffeine is one of the most common ingredients included in many weight loss supplements, mainly because of its role in burning fat and enhancing energy. In a study conducted in 2005, 75 overweight individuals were put on a diet for four weeks, and then subjected to three months of weight maintenance. During the maintenance period, participants were given either placebo or a green tea caffeine mixture. Both high and low caffeine consumers experienced weight loss. Those who were heavy drinkers of the green tea caffeine mixture reduced their waist circumference and fat mass. Light drinkers had a similar outcome, albeit at a lower degree. The resting energy expenditure of the latter group was also higher compared to those who were only given placebo.
The basal metabolic rate of obese women is also positively affected with the ingestion of trimethylxanthine, hence effectively decreasing body weight. Even people who are of normal weight can benefit from the fat oxidation effect of the stimulant.
There are conflicting studies regarding the effects of caffeine on heart health. However, a systematic review of related studies from 1966 to 2011 regarding the relationship between coffee consumption and heart failure showed that moderate consumption of the beverage -- no higher than four servings per day -- can decrease risk for heart failure.
Other health benefits
Caffeine has long been used as a treatment for Parkinson's disease symptoms, specifically for motor control. However, there is also potential for trimethylxanthine to be used in treating the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Another disease that can be potentially helped by this substance is Alzheimer's disease. A number of studies on rats and humans showed that moderate caffeine intake, approximately 500mg of coffee per day (about five cups), may lower the risk or delay onset of Alzheimer's disease.[31, 32]
Large bodies of evidence have shown that habitual consumption of the compound can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus[33, 34], even though the exact mechanism of action remains unclear and warrants further investigation.[35, 36]
Finally, some studies have demonstrated a possible link between caffeine consumption and a lower risk for developing certain cancers, including skin carcinoma and colorectal cancer.[38, 39]
Side effects/warningsWhen it comes to caffeine's disadvantages, the common denominator seems to occur mostly with high doses.
Some studies demonstrate that memory might become impaired as a result of consuming high doses of the stimulant. In the 2006 "Psychopharmacology" study of light and nondependent coffee drinkers who were asked to ingest caffeine capsules in varying amounts, research participants experienced a significant reduction in working memory performance tests, perhaps as a result of overstimulation.
Excessive amounts of trimethylxanthine can lead to insomnia or, for some, daytime sleepiness. Furthermore, it can cause increased anxiety and possibly worsen panic disorder, since people with either of these conditions are susceptible to psychotic and manic symptoms associated with high caffeine doses.
Impact on athletic performance
When it comes to sports, more caffeine does not necessarily mean better performance. A study involving cyclists showed that regardless of dose, research particpants showed the same level of improved endurance. There were even instances when the athletes' performance suffered when given trimethylxanthine at a dose of 9mg per kg of body weight, since just 1mg per kg of bodyweight is enough to get an energy boost. Those who are habitual caffeine users also cease to reap certain benefits as a result of increased tolerance.
General health disadvantages
This favorite stimulant has its share of adverse health effects. Acute intake of caffeine is associated with sudden spikes in blood pressure, especially in diagnosed hypertensives. However, no long-term effects on blood pressure have been found.[41, 42] While moderate amounts lower the risk for heart failure, higher doses of coffee, more than four servings per day, is associated with higher risk for heart failure. Bladder cancer is also linked to heavy caffeine consumption.
Coffee and tea are two of the most popular sources of caffeine, as it accounts for 80% of intake in the U.S. The other 20% come from cocoa, cacao, energy drinks, sodas, and supplements. Other sources include plants like guarana, yoco, cassina, and yerba mate, which have been used in North and South America since ancient times.
The effects of caffeine can last up to six hours
One concern many regular caffeine consumers have is the need to cycle off caffeine -- that is, to take a break, rather than quitting "cold turkey." It all depends on your reason for using caffeine
As a pre-workout supplement, it's essential to cycle off of caffeine so that you can avoid tolerance, which inevitably maximizes the positive effects of trimethylxanthine on sports performance. Cycling is also recommended if you want to speed up metabolism for weight loss purpses. If you have problems concentrating and a daily caffeine habit, you may want to consider reducing your trimethylxanthine intake, or stopping alltogether. a
On the other hand,chronic coffee drinkers have lower risk for developing diabetes, heart diseases, and Parkinson's disease. As such, cycling is not needed to take advantage of these benefits.
Favorite Caffeine Products
Priceplow offers the best prices for caffeine pre-workout supplements. One of the bestsellers is 4Ever Fit Caffeine, at $3.59 per 100 tablets. This is cheaper compared to other websites that sell it at $3.95 to $4.49 per bottle.
Another popular supplement is AllMax Nutrition Caffeine, priced at $3.89 per 100 tablets. Other stores sell it at $3.99 per bottle. AI Sports Nutrition Caffeine, which will last four to eight months, is $11.49 for 240 capsules.
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