The BUZZ on Caffeine!

Posted on 29 September 2015

Most of us start the day with some sort of caffeine buzz.  After a groggy commute to the office, we pour a cup of coffee, tea or soda, and wait for that morning jolt to wake us up before we get to work.  If we have a long day ahead, we might go for an energy drink, or replenish our energy with hits of chocolate throughout the day.  And how about that “2 o’clock” feeling?  Do you find yourself reaching for a cup of mid-afternoon caffeine to keep the vibe going through the end of the work day- perhaps even into your workout and beyond?  There are a lot of myths out there regarding caffeine- whether it’s good for you or bad for you and how and why- and a lot of scientific research going on to dispel or prove those myths.  While we continue to learn more about caffeine in all its glory and evil, here are a few things we do know!

The “Golden Standard” when it comes to coffee is 2 10oz cups a day.  Now, your servings of tea, espresso, soda, and energy drinks may have more or less caffeine than this standard, so be sure to note the caffeine levels.  If you’re not sure, there’s an excellent database out there:  The Caffeine Informer!  Just punch in your beverage or food of choice, and the Informer will disclose facts about the caffeine content. 

The basic reaction to a moderate dose of caffeine is familiar:  your alertness improves, your grogginess clears.  What you may not know is that this boost in alertness is also accompanied by a faster heart rate, relaxed air passageways, as well as boost in metabolic rates.  Your blood vessels constrict, which can reduce pain responses- this is why you’ll frequently see caffeine listed as an ingredient in migraine headache medication!  Caffeine will decrease your feelings of exhaustion and pain, which can allow you to push your body further in work OR in working out.  It also slows glycogen depletion, encouraging the body to use fat stores.  Workouts with a little caffeine might actually be beneficial after all!

As with everything, there’s a definite caution to be had here.  Caffeine is an addictive compound with a very high addictive rate- meaning your body can become dependent on caffeine very quickly.  The withdrawal process is terrible, too, with headaches, nausea, and a bunch of other uncomfortable symptoms an active person would rather avoid.  At the same time, too much caffeine is also a problem!  With the the heart and mind all “sped up,” you can experience jitteriness, anxiety, insomnia, and nausea. 

Therefore, it is essential to moderate caffeine intake.  While the benefits are very good, the down sides are very, very bad!  Here are some tips for a natural pick-me-up in place of a double shot of espresso:

  1. Workout!  Take 15 minutes and do a quick workout.  Here in a fantastic “wake up” yoga routine to inspire you (but don’t stop here!):
  2. Try a glass of water. Sounds simple, but sometimes your brain is lagging due to a lack of hydration.  You are getting your 88 ounces a day, aren’t you?
  3. Have a small snack- sometimes tiredness is a symptom of low blood sugar. Nibble on a few vegetables or a piece of fruit, and see if that helps.
  4. Take a walk. You don’t have to go far to get the blood pumping and the brain re-stimulated.  Cruise down the hallway and back, and see if that helps you find your focus again.


While moderate doses of coffee aren’t always bad, be sure to pay attention to what you’re drinking.  Don’t go overboard, and add a few active plans for motivating your brain to your routine, and you’ll have the momentum you need for your active lifestyle.

Have fun, be safe, and stay active!

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