The Good (and maybe not so good) news about Caffeine 

There was so much great feedback from my awesome Facebook Friends about what they want to see on my blog! I think I’ve got enough ideas and suggestions to last me until next year


But I’ve got my main man Dan to thank for the suggestion for this post…

He said something along the lines of ‘you need your first blog post to be about something that everybody thinks about  but NOBODY knows the answer to! I wonder about this every day!’

(I don’t know why he never asked me before…🤔)

So anyway…

Let’s talk about Caffeine! I’m really excited to be writing about this because the latest research on Caffeine and genetics has given us new insight on this previously controversial topic.

How much caffeine is too much? Does coffee dehydrate you? Will caffeine before a workout improve performance?

A little background…

Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. It is a stimulate that can enhance focus, memory, and even athletic performance. Most people get their caffeine from Coffee or Tea, but there are many new products on the market that give you a boost, such as energy drinks, energy gum, caffeinated candies, or energy shots. The market is expanding all the time as food companies think of new ways to give consumers a boost. There are also a number of other substances found in some of these products that act similar to caffeine, or can have a compounded effect when mixed with caffeine (ie Taurine, Guarana, Yerba)

A standard 8-oz cup of coffee contains about 80-120mg caffeine (depending on exactly how it is brewed). Tea varies depending on variety and steep time, but a black tea for example contains about the same amount. Energy drinks and other products can be trickier to tell the exact dose, because they main contain both caffeine AND a few of those other substances, making the total amount of caffeine (or the effect it might have), unknown. As product sizes get bigger it is very likely that some are getting into what I would call “Mega-Dose” amounts of stimulants.

So let’s start with the good news! There is NOTHING inherently wrong with caffeine. In a reasonable dose (we’ll get to what that is later), caffeine can have positive effects on cognition, focus, memory, and yes- athletic performance.

But see how I used the word “can”? It has become more clear with recent evidence that caffeine has different effects on different people, depending on our genetics. The way our bodies metabolize caffeine (in this case, how quickly our liver can filter the drug out of our system), can change how much caffeine is safe for us to have.

There are two different genotypes when it comes to caffeine metabolism (the population is split about 50/50). Fast Metabolizers and Slow Metabolizers. Fast Metabolizers are the ones who are most likely to see benefits from higher caffeine consumption. These are the ones who perform better on physical tests after consuming caffeine. The caffeine is cleared from their bloodstream faster, and they actually experience a protective effect from drinking up to 4 cups of coffee per day (about 400mg of caffeine)

Slow Metabolizers are folks who are unlikely to perform better after consuming caffeine. They are not as efficient at clearing caffeine from their bloodstream, and drinking more than two cups of coffee per day (about 200mg caffeine) for these individuals can actually increase their risk of having a heart attack.

(If you want to know which group you fit into, a simple genetic test can give you the answer- ask me for details)

My advice? If a cup of coffee perks you up in the morning, with no negative side effects (like the jitters, anxiety, or tummy troubles), then rock on! But be mindful of your cup size. Do you really NEED an Extra Large? You might be able to get by with a small or medium, and perhaps some better quality sleep. Consuming caffeine late in the day can lead to poor sleep, which further perpetuates the cycle of relying on caffeine all day long. Consuming too much caffeine can also make us feel jittery, irritable, anxious, and cause digestive distress.

Swap some of that coffee for water as much as you can, because dehydration can actually makes us feel fatigued. We think we need another cup of coffee, but what our body is really asking for is some good ol’ H20.

So that brings me to Dan’s second question: Does coffee dehydrate you?

In short, yes it can. Coffee (and other caffeine-containing beverages) have a diuretic effect. Newer research has shown however, that this diuretic effect is overall fairly small. But, if your main beverage all day is coffee, and you might only get water in your mouth when you brush your teeth, then it is definitely time to make a change.

Aim to drink at least 2 Litres of water per day (8 cups), more if you participate in physical activity, or have a physical job where you’re sweating a lot. Don’t count your caffeine containing beverages in this total, keep that 2L to just plain water. You might find that by increasing your water intake, you naturally feel more alert, and might not need as much caffeine to keep you focused all day. Start by just cutting back on your cup size slowly, until you can skip a few altogether.

Have more questions about caffeine? Want to know if you’re a fast or slow metabolizer?

Comment below or contact me!

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