The Caffeine Dilemma – 5 Caffeine Myths Debunked
Nothing beats starting your day with a nice big cup of coffee. Caffeine is the world’s most frequently consumed ingredient, but that doesn’t mean it’s free of misconceptions. You can find it in coffee, tea, soda and, of course, caffeine is in a lot of sports nutritional products.
No matter how you consume it, caffeine can increase your mental acuity, improves your mood, and boosts your performance. Given its popularity inside the gym and out, you’d think we’d know everything there is to know about it.
So, here are a few myths about coffee that aren’t so true:
Myth 1: Caffeine causes dehydration
Caffeine is known to have a strong diuretic effect, meaning it can make you urinate. If you are a person that doesn’t continually replenish your fluids, this can be cause for concern since dehydration and fluid loss can affect athletic performance.
Keep in mind that most people get their caffeine intake through drinking coffee, black tea, or a pre-workout which means the water they consume as a part of those beverages makes up for some of this fluid loss. Studies have found that the average person can drink as many as 7 cups (about 600 milligrams of caffeine) of coffee a day without experiencing a significant increase in fluid loss.
Tip: If you experience increased urination or fluid loss, you can compensate by drinking an additional cup of water or so for every 100 milligrams of caffeine you consume.
Myth 2: There’s no Caffeine in decaf coffee
When people who enjoy coffee are sometimes asked to avoid it for various reasons (allergies, certain illnesses, during pregnancy), they usually switch to decaffeinated coffee. What they don’t realise is that “decaffeinated” isn’t the same as caffeine-free. Coffee producers must remove 97 percent of the caffeine for a it to be considered decaffeinated. That’s not zero caffeine, but it is close.
Myth 3: Caffeine Is addictive
Developing a tolerance to caffeine is uncommon, which is why so many people need to drink more and more of it to get the same effects. However, if you no longer get that familiar feeling from your cup of coffee or pre-workout, you’ll have to cut back on your intake for a few weeks.
Having said that, if you stop abruptly, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, and difficulty concentrating in the short term.The good news is that these symptoms are usually short-lived. Once you start up again, the symptoms should diminish and your heightened sensitivity to caffeine re-emerge.
Before you hit the gym, there’s nothing more helpful than the kick you get from a good pre-workout. Just pay attention to how it and caffeine in all its other forms affects your performance, sleep and mood.
Myth 4: Caffeine causes insomnia
Your body quickly absorbs caffeine. But it also gets rid of it quickly. It is processed mainly through the liver and has a relatively short half-life. This means, after eight to ten hours, 75% of the caffeine is gone. For most people, a cup of coffee or two in the morning won’t interfere with sleep at night.
Consuming caffeine later in the day, however, can interfere with sleep.
Tip: As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid any caffeine related products at least six hours before going to bed. This may vary, though, depending on your metabolism and the amount of caffeine you regularly consume.
Myth 5: Energy drinks have more caffeine than coffee.
Not really. Cans of the super-size energy drinks begin to approach the caffeine levels of regular coffee but at that serving size the amount of sugar and preservatives are well beyond what is considered healthy.
These larger energy drinks, however, don’t approach the caffeine levels of gourmet coffee which is generally of a higher grade and has also been roasted to intensify its effects.
Bottom line: If you want a strong caffeine jolt, stick to coffee.