If you don’t enjoy a morning coffee, I will look at you a little weird…
(Not judging or anything… )
Anyway, whilst coffee is delicious (in my humble yet completely accurate opinion), and whilst it’ll give you some great benefits, it does have some drawbacks.
Now, I should make it clear, when I’m talking about coffee, I’m specifically talking about “caffeine”.
Now we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about caffeine (I’m fantasising about coffee already – probably not a good sign – ha!)
So then, let’s start with the benefits of caffeine:
1) You’ll have an energy boost
The biggest and most well-known benefit of caffeine is, without a doubt, the energy boost you’ll get from it.
Four hours sleep last night? No problem; just get a cuppa coffee.
Got a workout you’re not feeling up for? Better drink up.
Suffering a mid-morning slump at work? Coffee-break time!
Quite clearly, caffeine has some pretty damn awesome benefits when it comes to giving you more energy. But (and it’s a bigger “but” than Kim Kardashian’s butt), it’s not all good news. Though we’ll go over this in a bit. For now, let’s stay focused on the positives!
Anyway, the reason caffeine can boost your energy is because of this:
(WARNING: Boring science stuff coming up. I’ll make it quick – something I’m unfortunately saying far too often lately… )
As soon as caffeine enters your body, it’s already being metabolised by the liver and broken down into theophylline, theobromine, and paraxanthine. These chemicals then travel through the body, where they affect different functions.
How quickly caffeine is metabolised varies from person to person – you’ve got Mum and Dad to thank for this, because it’s all in your genes. (Yeah, thanks Mum and Dad for making me nuts when I have a coffee!!)
Anyway, the most studied function affected by caffeine in in your brain. You see, caffeine is similar to a molecule called adenosine in your brain. The caffeine molecules bind to the adenosine receptors in your brain cells which stop adenosine from binding.
Now, you’re probably thinking: “What the hell is adenosine?”
Good question. Let me answer it…
See, when adenosine binds to enough receptors, it signals the brain that it’s time for sleep. But as I just said, when the caffeine molecules bind to the adenosine receptors, the adenosine can’t bind to anything.
So what does this mean? Quite simply, your brain isn’t getting the signals that it’s time for you to sleep.
So then, does that mean you can go without sleep for good, just by downing coffee all day?
Definitely not. After all, Freddy Krueger wouldn’t have been half as scary if people could actually survive without sleep…
So, caffeine doesn’t replace your need for sleep. It just covers it up.
Also, when adenosine is blocked by caffeine, your dopamine system starts working more efficiently. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in your body which is basically what helps you feel good. So that’s another benefit of caffeine right there.
2) Caffeine is a form of nootropic
A form of whaaaaaa’?
Nootropics are substances which alter your brain chemistry. Benefits include better creativity, mental focus, and much more. And, yes, caffeine will give you these very benefits.
3) It speeds up your metabolism, so you’ll burn more fat
Just as it says on the tin.
Obviously a great benefit if you’re trying to lose weight.
Sooooo… What are the NEGATIVES of caffeine?
1) It’s a drug
Meaning you can get addicted.
Which isn’t good news, my friend. Clearly, too much is gonna be bad.
There’s a few reasons why:
For starters, you’ll need more and more caffeine to get the same benefits. This’ll screw up your ability to sleep, your natural energy levels, and much more.
Like any drug, if you then don’t take the amount of caffeine your body gets used to, you’ll “crash” big-time. You’ll be lacklustre, energy-less, tired, irritable, and just generally feeling rubbish.
Good luck then being productive at work!
2) You could suffer from anxiety
If I have more than 2 cups of coffee a day, I become very anxious.
I remember there was a time when I was downing 3 or 4 cups a day. I literally had really bad anxiety. I believed everyone was against me.
When I reduced my coffee, I almost immediately felt better (aside from a few headaches, but hey, you soon get over them)!
3) Heart problems
When I was 21, I went into hospital with a heart problem.
I was there for 3 days; diagnosed with a condition called myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart. Wasn’t nice.
I was at university in Coventry. I was laying in bed struggling to breathe. I just felt really weird.
Anyway, I eventually got to sleep around 2am. Then BOOM. Woke up again at about half 4. My heart was pounding like mad.
So I went to the hospital and the doctor said: “Don’t worry, but we’re gonna treat this as the most serious case.”
Seriously? Did he really say “Don’t worry”????? I was bricking it – probably making my heart rate go even higher!
Clearly, I lived to tell the tale. And everything’s all good now – more than good in fact. But I was drinking a lot of caffeine around that time, so that probably played a part. The doc then said to stay away from ALL energy drinks for life. He said they had a lot of patients come with heart problems after they’d downed a few of these.
So lesson learned:
Too much caffeine can be bad news. Seriously bad news.
Sleep is important.
Yes, I know you know that. But are you really getting enough of it?
If not, then you’re gonna have a ton of problems. Things like not being able to concentrate, not being creative, feeling beyond lethargic, and just looking ill and unhealthy with oily skin and big bags underneath your eyes. Not nice.
Too much caffeine will just screw with your sleep, for the reasons I mentioned earlier.
So… Should you have caffeine or not?
In all honesty, a cup of coffee a day won’t do you any harm at all.
In fact, it will give you some of the great benefits we’ve gone over.
Personally, I have a cup about once every two or three days. Just means that when I do drink it, it works a treat.
Now, what if you’re already addicted to caffeine? What if you can’t function without it?
Honestly, I recommend going cold-turkey. Seriously.
Just for a couple of weeks.
Then you can start drinking it again (just in much smaller amounts). If you do this, you’ll feel bad at first. But after about a week, the headaches will go and you’ll feel much better. Just view this time as a way of resetting your body to its natural state. Your natural energy levels will skyrocket, and you’ll no longer need caffeine to function.