As I sit here in a coffee shop, trying my hardest to be productive on a rainy day, I figured, why not talk about the benefits of caffeine. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love coffee maybe more than I love food (and that’s saying something). I could literally drink consecutive cup after cup of the liquid nectar of the gods. I love the taste, I love the smell, I love the complexity, I love pretty much everything about it! Including its personality enhancing factor. But here are some more reasons why I think it’s a great part of anyone’s diet, and of course a few excuses and ammo to justify your caffeine habit.
Firstly, Caffeine affects brain function, this should be pretty evident for anyone who “needs” a cup of coffee to get going in the morning. A study published by Nature Neuroscience
found that caffeine administered post studying helped students with memory consolidation. This being the concept of being able to process and retain new information. In addition, The University of Arizona
recently looked at whether caffeine helps memory during periods when kids aren’t in their optimal periods of arousal. Aka, fancy way of sayin “tired”. Basically, caffeine given to kids in the morning helped with memory, while caffeine given to kids in the afternoon (a kids optimal arousal time) had no effect. A very similar found the same phenomenon in adults, but only when caffeine was administered in the afternoon, which is an adult’s period of lowest level of arousal. Another reason to have that afternoon Americano. Another recent study published in the Journals of Gerontology
showed that women who consumed more than the median daily amount of coffee (261 mg per day. This being about 1-2 cups) had a reduced risk of developing dementia or memory impairment. I addition, for those of you who really wanna go big, a study conducted by Alzheimer Europe and the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee found that 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day is the optimal amount
to protect the brain form degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. All the more reason to keep the liquid gold flowing.
Again, given my ongoing theme, and assuming you, my audience come here for fitness related knowledge bombs, let’s talk about caffeine and its affect on atheistic performance. According to Journal of Applied Physiology, athletes that consumed caffeine and carbs after strenuous exercise had 66% more glycogen in their muscles than athletes who just ingested carbs alone post workout. Whoa!? Glycogen is important because it is the fuel muscles use to function. It’s the main source of energy when working out, and it’s what you need to refuel and repair post workout. So maximizing glycogen absorption without consuming additional calories is optimal for athletes within sports like bodybuilding. In addition, increasing glycogen levels after a hard workout will also help you perform better during the following day’s workout. Which is applicable to anyone with fitness goals.
The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research also conducted a systematic review of 29 studies related to caffeine and athletic performance in an attempt to establish if caffeine prior to exercise acted as a performance aid. They found that 11 out of 17 studies showed caffeine ingestion yielded significant improvements in exercise performance, and 6 out of 11 studies revealed benefits of caffeine use during resistance training. Another study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that caffeine increased oxidative stress and anti-inflammatory response in long distance runners after completing a 15k run. In this case caffeine was ingested prior to the run. For more of you more strength inclined athletes, a study published in the Journal of Muscle and Nerve found that caffeine did increase muscle torque and activity during strength training exercise. One group of participants was given 6 mg of caffeine per kilogram of their body weight and they significantly out-performed the placebo group. So, consume caffeine, lift more weight. Sounds like a win to me! Lastly, a study published in The Journal of Applied Physiology found that caffeine increased the level of enjoyment from exercise and caused the test subjects to burn more calories and consume less calories after exercise. Which I think it no big surprise there, since caffeine is a natural mood enhancer, and being more engaged and focused in your workout is obviously going to yield a better training session.
So let’s also talk about caffeine nor only helps performance, but also recovery. The University of Georgia has found that a moderate dose of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) can reduce post-workout pain by up to 48%. Disclaimer: This research was small group and they only tested women. Not only this, but the women were not regular caffeine users.
The Journal of Pain showed that caffeine can also reduce muscle pain during moderate intensity exercise. Some participants were given large doses of caffeine prior to cycling exercise, others were not. The caffeine group had significant less muscle pain during the exercise than the placebo group. This may also explain why caffeine is used as an endurance aid for athletes. New research conducted by Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology and the University of Brasilia (UNB) also isolated a protein in coffee beans that is similar to morphine, but works even better. They are currently doing further research concerning this protein and its pain relieving applications. If a person consumes caffeine everyday, then the only way to experience caffeine’s pain relieving effect is to consume a dose greater than the daily amount he or she has been accustomed to. Whomp whomp…
So friends, don’t ever let anyone ever tell you that you have a caffeine problem. You’re just health contentious 😉