What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is an alkaloid found in tea, coffee, cocoa beans, Guarana, Kola nut and various other plants. It was discovered in 1820 however, some speculate that it has been in use from even further back in history.
I’m sure we’ve all come into contact with Caffeine is our every day lives and heard the quotes, ‘I need my caffeine boost/my coffee’ – The kick you get from coffee is from the caffeine working on your CNS – Central Nervous System!
This daily contact makes Caffeine the most popular stimulant in the world.
Moderate usage of caffeine has shown it to have many positive benefits such as increased mental alertness, energy, endurance and power – hence why it is an extremely popular (not to mention cheap as chips!) supplement for those looking to energize and maximize the intensity out of their workouts.
Progressive intensity = progressive results! See why caffeine is so popular?
How Does Caffeine Work?
Caffeine is very fast acting and gets to work almost immediately providing the user with the benefits listed above (increased mental focus, energy, power and endurance).
Caffeine works by positively affecting the CNS, allowing a more intense workout. It works because Caffeine is almost an energy metabolite all on its own!
Let me explain briefly – Stay with me here…Within our bodies, we have something called cAMP or cyclic AMP. cAMP is derived from ATP (remember this important energy provider? See Creatine for more info) and is a secondary messenger.
Cutting a long long story short, when we exercise cAMP is broken down and when this happens, the bodies energy supply also decreases.
Enter Caffeine – Caffeine tricks the body into breaking it down instead of the metabolite used to break down cAMP. This means greater energy levels and a longer period of mental focus during your workout! Cool eh?
Who Would Benefit Most From Caffeine?
Millions of people benefit from Caffeine every single day without even realising it.
There aren’t any symptoms of deficiency associated with lack of caffeine and nobody really needs it – However it has been estimated that were everybody to stop taking Caffeine, that productivity would fall by 70% (in the USA).
Of course, this is just a guess but just goes to show the influence that Caffeine has on our daily lives.
People who are looking to build muscle fast would benefit from the extra workout intensity. People who want to lose weight fast can also benefit for the same reason PLUS the fact that caffeine increases metabolism and acts as a mild diuretic. (makes you excrete excess water)
What Are The Recommended Dosages of Caffeine?
Difficult to say. For everyday use I wouldn’t go higher than 200mg per day to maintain mental sharpness.
Bodybuilders may use up to 600-800 mg per day when they are using Caffeine to cut their bodyfat levels (Caffeine is normally stacked with Ephedrine and Aspirin for this purpose) but this is normally only for 4-6 week cycles with a period of time off.
Please be aware that the body adapts very quickly and, like everything, I would not go overboard with Caffeine for two reasons – Increased chance of side effects and secondly the fact that you may develop a resistance to it’s effects.
Supplemented caffeine is highly recommended to be cycled rather than being taken year round.
Caffeine Side Effects?
Side effects are not common if caffeine is taken in moderation, however, certain symptoms may present themselves with excessive dosages and are dependant on the individual.
Things like irritability, nervousness, feeling of hotness, jitters and at the very extreme, heart palpitations.
These side effects only appear with excessive doses and as I mentioned, we consume caffeine on a daily basis making it a safe supplement.