I’ve been known to take a wee bit too much coffee. With my will to give my Personal Training clients the best sessions I can, quite often I’ll take a coffee before each one to ‘pick me up’ and check I’m on form. I regularly do blocks of 7 PT clients in a row – that’s a lot of coffee going down me!
Whereas a little caffeine buzz can be a good thing, not many people know what caffeine is, let alone what it does. So this blog post sets out to give you some information.
We can take on board caffeine through coffee, tea, stimulant drinks, chocolate, and a few other sources as well. Interestingly, the average cup of coffee has 100mg caffeine, cup of tea 50mg, 10-50mg in colas, and Red Bull has around 80mg.
Yes, that’s right; the average cup of coffee has more caffeine than a red bull. Interestingly, tea has more caffeine than coffee, but when we take them as a drink we directly ingest coffee whereas tea is infused. Therefore there is more caffeine in a cup of coffee than a cup of tea.
And now a quick science bit.
Caffeine is found in plants as a natural neurotoxin. The plants use it to protect themselves. It’s a defence mechanism against certain bugs.
With us, it plays havoc with our ANS (Autonomic Nervous System). In our neurology there is a chemical called adenosine which has the job of slowing our nerves down. Caffeine blocks it from doing its job, by taking its place, and therefore the nerves are free to work faster. This puts a perceived ‘emergency’ reaction into the body and the sympathetic system kicks in, starting the preparations for the GAS (General Adaptation Syndrome, or the Freeze-Flight-Fight (Fear-Feint) reaction). Voila, you are awake.
In simple terms, caffeine takes the brakes off.
And with the brakes off our neurology runs fast, and creates an increased level of dopamine activity in the brain – just like cocaine and other stimulants. Your body starts to look forward to the caffeine hit.
And the more caffeine you take, the more the body becomes desensitised to it, meaning you need more caffeine for the same effect. This is why you end up taking more and more caffeine to get a ‘lift’.
My caffeine intake levels are too high – and I’ve started the process of weaning myself off the coffee and caffeine. How do you do that? I’ll be posting another blog post soon explaining exactly what happens to cause the addiction, the affects of withdrawal, and of course suggesting some simple ways to handle it comfortably!