Caffeine has skyrocketed in consumption during the modern era. In 1998, nearly 80% of the adult population consumed this psychoactive substance and that figure is sure to have increased in the past 20 years.
Soda, coffee, tea, sports supplements, and many other beverages contain caffeine. While some drinks contain caffeine as a flavor enhancer, it has irrefutable effects on the body and mind that can lead to caffeine reliance.
The prevalence of the use of caffeine can make it difficult to steer clear or enjoy it in healthy moderation. Understanding the many forms of caffeine as well as how it affects your body can allow you to enjoy caffeine in moderation.
Below is a look at different forms of caffeine, how they impact the body, as well as caffeine alternatives to help you sustain more natural energy levels throughout the day without risking developing a reliance or hindering your sleep.
Caffeine anhydrous vs. caffeine
If you have ever looked at the listed ingredients of products at the grocery store you most likely have seen ingredients that you have never heard of before. While the name caffeine is generally recognizable, many labels will not directly list caffeine as an ingredient but will utilize the source of the caffeine instead since it is naturally present in these ingredients. Ingredients like brewed coffee, black tea, and chocolate are workarounds that do not require manufacturers to list caffeine as an ingredient.
If a product lists caffeine as an ingredient this means that isolated caffeine has been added to it. When adding pure caffeine to products, manufacturers will often utilize caffeine anhydrous. Caffeine anhydrous is essentially a purified dried and powdered form of caffeine. The anhydrous simply denotes that it is caffeine without water. As a powder, it can easily be dissolved in beverages, added to foods, or included in supplements.
Both caffeine and caffeine anhydrous are chemically the same and have the same effects on the body. The only real difference between the two is that caffeine is a liquid while caffeine anhydrous is a powder.
Effects of caffeine on the body
While it may seem drastic to consider caffeine a psychoactive substance, it does have irrefutable impacts on the brain and body. While its effects are fairly minor it can cause increases in heart rate as well as an increased sense of wakefulness. Being aware of these effects can allow you to better be aware of what to expect when you consume caffeine.
First-time caffeine consumers will typically have a strong physiological response to caffeine. Most people who have their first energy drink or strong cup of coffee will tend to feel like their heart is beating out of their chest or begin getting sweaty palms. For habitual coffee drinkers, this response usually tapers off and often times experience caffeine’s effects to a lesser degree.
The physiological reaction comes as a result of caffeine’s stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is what is responsible for the fight or flight stress response. During sympathetic nervous system arousal, the body responds by increasing cardiac output and respiration rate. These actions better prepare you to fight or flee a life threat.
While your morning cup of joe is not a threat, caffeine found within the coffee can activate this system and cause the changes in your body to occur. It can be an uncomfortable experience for some, but it can also be helpful especially in the world of fitness. By utilizing caffeine in a pre-workout, many athletes are able to utilize the sympathetic nervous system arousal to increase their performance and energy level during a workout.
The sympathetic nervous system reaction seems to diminish the more regularly caffeine is consumed. Knowing this, athletes can decrease caffeine use while not training so they can utilize these effects. Athletes can also try and find a better means of improving energy levels so they don’t develop a reliance on caffeine to perform well.
The most common utilization of caffeine is for those looking for a quick boost of wakefulness and alertness. Long nights burning the midnight oil, or simply trying to conquer the mid-day slump, many people turn to caffeine as a means of a quick pick me up.
Caffeine is considered a stimulant because of its effects on the brain. Caffeine when consumed enters the bloodstream through the digestive tract. When in the blood it readily is able to cross the blood-brain barrier where it is able to have its alertness-inducing effects.
Caffeine is considered a competitive inhibitor because it is able to bind to receptors in the brain which blocks adenosine from attaching. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that is responsible for inducing sleep.
When you wake up in the morning, adenosine is typically unbound to its receptors. As the day continues and transitions into the evening, adenosine accumulates and attaches to its receptors which then causes you to become tired. Caffeine is able to temporarily block the binding of adenosine to its receptor which is able to make you feel more awake and alert.
Possible side effects of caffeine
Drinking caffeine within the FDA-recommended daily allowance of 400 milligrams a day is generally safe and is no cause for concern. While it is safe, some people may experience unwanted and undesirable side effects due to caffeine. Experiencing these side effects is not uncommon and is a large reason some people choose to eliminate caffeine from their diet.
Below is a look at some undesirable side effects of caffeine. Being aware of these possible side effects can allow you to better identify adverse caffeine reactions and make the necessary changes to your caffeine consumption.
Caffeine is considered a diuretic because it increases the amount of water your body excretes. While needing to make more stops to the bathroom is a fairly benign effect, it could contribute to more water being lost than consumed. When water input is less than the water output, it leads to a state of dehydration. As a result, caffeine in some instances could contribute to a person becoming dehydrated.
With a lower fluid level, the body can experience many different adverse effects. This includes headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Caffeine alone is unlikely to cause dehydration but when it is used in combination with other dehydrating drugs or activities it can certainly lead to dehydration.
One of the largest complaints against caffeine is that it can induce anxiety. As stated previously caffeine is able to induce the body’s natural stress response which increases heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. While these effects are advantageous when working out or when in a stressful situation, they are not that helpful for those who are not anticipating it and are prone to anxiety.
The elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration experienced by caffeine consumption closely resemble the conditions experienced when feeling anxious. As a result, caffeine consumption can contribute to feeling anxious and is a large reason why many people choose to quit caffeine altogether.
Alternatives to caffeine
Caffeine’s most common use is to increase energy levels. Caffeine is effective in increasing alertness, but only in the short term. Eventually, the body needs to rest and all caffeine does is push back that rest time. The short-term boost in energy that is gained needs to be made up at another point. Drinking caffeine late in the day may allow you to get past the midday slump, but it could hinder your ability to sleep and therefore make you even more tired the next day.
If you are looking to decrease your caffeine consumption and find a better way to increase energy levels, MitoQ is a great option. MitoQ is a specially formulated CoQ10 molecule that is able to specifically target the energy centers of your cells, the mitochondria. Supporting your cellular energy can allow your body to be better suited to support sustained energy levels throughout the day.
In summary, caffeine is a molecule that is able to cause many changes within the human body. Whether you are dealing with naturally occurring caffeine or caffeine anhydrous, they both have the exact same effects on the human body.
While caffeine seems to be the go-to solution for increasing energy, there are other potential options available that can allow you to avoid the possibility of reliance, dehydration, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.
MitoQ offers a supplement that helps bolster your body’s natural powerhouses. By supporting the mechanisms already in place you can help your body achieve more sustainable energy levels throughout the day and curb caffeine for good.