The most prevalent psychoactive substance in the world is caffeine and it can bring about psychological and/or emotional effects.
Millions of us enjoy drinking a cup of coffee in the morning. And there can be benefits to doing so. Even the American Special Forces utilize caffeine to improve alertness and performance. However, caffeine has its drawbacks as well, including dependency. While caffeine can be beneficial, like most things, too much is too much.
The Pros of Caffeine
The brain-signaling chemical adenosine can be blocked by caffeine, while other signaling chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine see a relative rise. Your mood and brain function can improve because of this alteration in brain communications.
According to one study, participants' alertness, short-term memory, and response time were all enhanced after taking 37.5–450 mg of caffeine (1).
Additionally, the research found that consuming 2-3 cups of caffeinated coffee per day—which contains 200–300 mg of caffeine—was associated with a 45% decreased risk of suicide (2).
According to another study, those who drink coffee have a 13% decreased incidence of depression (3).
However, it's not always beneficial to consume large amounts of caffeine when it comes to mood.
Caffeine may boost metabolism and fat burning by up to 11% and 13%, respectively, due to its capacity to activate the central nervous system (4).
In real terms, burning an additional 79 calories per day may be possible if you take 300 mg of coffee every day (5). Although it may seem insignificant, this quantity is comparable to the calorie surplus that causes Americans to acquire an average of 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of weight per year (6).
The subjects who consumed far more coffee than that were, on average, just 0.8-1.1 pounds (0.4-0.5 kg) lower at the end of the 12-year research on caffeine and weight gain (7). So, more didn’t equal better here.
Contrary to popular belief, caffeine does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In fact, research indicates that individuals who drink 1-4 cups of coffee each day (100 to 400 mg total) have a 16–18% decreased chance of developing heart disease (8).
According to another research study, 2-4 cups of green tea or coffee per day is associated with a 14–20% decreased risk of stroke (9).
Caffeine may, for some people, slightly increase blood pressure, so keep that in mind. For most people, this impact is minor (3 to 4 mmHg) and seems to disappear with time when they consistently drink and acclimate to coffee (10).
Additionally, it could help prevent diabetes. Those who consume coffee may have an up to 29% decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, according to an analysis. (11). The scientists found that for each 200 mg of caffeine ingested, the risk decreases by 12–14%.
It's interesting, however, to note that drinking decaffeinated coffee is also associated with a 21% decreased risk of diabetes (11). This suggests that other components in coffee may actually potentially prevent type 2 diabetes.
Caffeine may boost the utilization of fats as fuel during exercise. This is advantageous because it can prolong the duration of the glucose that is stored in muscles, thereby prolonging the time that it takes for your muscles to get exhausted (12).
Additionally, caffeine may enhance muscular contractions and raise fatigue tolerance.
One hour before exercising, researchers found that dosages of 2.3 mg per pound of body weight increased endurance performance by up to 5% (13).
Benefits may be obtained with dosages as minimal as 1.4 mg per pound of body weight (14). The studies also indicate that team sports, intense workouts, and weight training have similar advantages.
Additionally, it may ease the perceived effort of exercise by 5.6%, making exercise feel easier (15).
Consuming caffeine is usually seen as harmless. However, it can become habit-forming.
Anxiety, agitation, trembling, an irregular pulse, and difficulty sleeping are a few adverse consequences related to excessive use (16).
Some people may have migraines, headaches, and elevated blood pressure as a result of drinking too much coffee (17).
The published recommendation for daily intake of caffeine is up to 400 mg. However, there are energy drinks that pack 400 mg or more, so be aware of these.
Also, not all caffeine is created equal. Look for natural sources like coffee and green tea. Energy drinks often use synthetic sources or by-products.
As you have seen, caffeine has incredible benefits for your health and performance. While it is associated with some cons, most are due to excessive consumption.