In the morning, it’s in your coffee or latte.
Before you work out, it’s in your energy drink or pre-workout.
For dinner, it’s in your soda.
For dessert, it’s in your chocolate ice cream.
Caffeine is basically as commonly found a natural stimulant as there is across the world, with billions of people consuming it every day. But the experiences people have with it vary dramatically.
Based on a person's individual tolerance, the amount consumed, and other factors, the effects of caffeine can shift a person’s whole day or barely register on someone’s internal radar.
What are the positive effects of caffeine … or, more importantly, why does it give you energy?
Caffeine is primarily known for its ability to increase energy and focus - hence its prevalence in morning-based drinks. When consumed, caffeine travels to the brain and blocks the action of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and suppresses arousal.
This causes an increase in the activity of other neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine, which are associated with wakefulness and alertness. So not only does caffeine work to help you feel more awake and alert, but it actually impacts your ability to feel drowsy.
But that’s not the only impact the suppression of adenosine has.
Caffeine and Focus
Similar to its effects on energy, caffeine increases focus and has additional cognitive benefits caused by the combination of inhibiting adenosine and increasing the activity of other neurotransmitters that promote arousal and attention.
The primary neurotransmitter thought to benefit from the absence of adenosine is thought to be dopamine, which plays a huge role in both focus and the creation of memories. More dopamine typically results in a higher drive to concentrate and continue working on the task at hand. And simultaneously, the coding of thoughts and stimulations into memories requires the stimulation of dopamine receptors. A higher amount of dopamine leads to improved focus and memory.
Additionally, caffeine can improve physical performance by increasing adrenaline levels and releasing fatty acids from fat cells, which can be used as fuel by the body during exercise. Studies have shown that caffeine can improve endurance, strength, and power output, making it a popular supplement for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
What are the negative effects of caffeine?
While caffeine has many positive effects, it also has some negative effects that should be taken into consideration. These include:
Anxiety: Some people may experience feelings of anxiety or jitteriness when consuming caffeine, especially in high doses.
Insomnia: Caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns, making it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Dehydration: Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it can increase urine output and lead to dehydration if not consumed with enough water.
- Addiction: Caffeine can be addictive, with regular use leading to tolerance and dependence.
Why do some people feel anxiety when they consume caffeine?
Anxiety is a common side effect of caffeine, especially in people who are sensitive to its effects. This is thought to be due to caffeine's ability to increase the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body's fight or flight response.
This can lead to feelings of nervousness, restlessness, and increased heart rate, all symptoms related to anxiety. If the body begins to feel these triggers, it can sometimes lead to the same response one would feel when suffering from anxiety.
How long does it take for effects from caffeine to kick in?
The effects of caffeine can vary depending on the individual and the amount of caffeine consumed.
Generally, it takes about 45 minutes for the effects of caffeine to kick in, with peak effects occurring between 30 minutes to 2 hours after consumption. The effects of caffeine can last for several hours, depending on the individual's metabolism. It also depends on the source of caffeine.
Studies have shown that guarana, a seed from Brazil, operates slightly different than the caffeine in coffee, not releasing as quickly and lasting a bit longer throughout the day. Typically people are not consuming caffeine on its own, so the nature of the item it is being consumed through does make an impact on how long it takes for the body to metabolize it.
How does sugar impact caffeine’s effects?
Sugar can enhance caffeine's effects by increasing the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This response can increase the pleasurable effects of caffeine and may contribute to the addictive properties of caffeine. It’s no surprise many energy drinks loaded with a combination of sugar and caffeine to try and push the beneficial aspects as hard as they can. Huge short term payoff.
But that payoff isn’t designed to last.
Consuming too much sugar can also lead to a more significant and sudden crash in energy levels, which can counteract the positive effects of caffeine.
How does l-theanine impact caffeine’s effects?
L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea that has been shown to enhance the positive effects of caffeine while reducing the negative effects.
L-theanine works by increasing alpha brain waves, which are associated with relaxation and calmness. When combined with caffeine, l-theanine can improve cognitive performance without causing jitters or anxiety.
Why does caffeine affect some people differently than others?
Caffeine affects people differently because of individual differences in genetics, metabolism, and sensitivity. Some people may metabolize caffeine quickly, leading to a shorter duration of effects, while others may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and experience negative side effects even with small amounts.
In conclusion, caffeine can have both positive and negative effects on the body and brain, with individual differences playing a big role in how it affects people. While caffeine is a popular way to increase energy and focus, it's important to be mindful of the negative side effects, such as anxiety and insomnia.
If you're looking for a way to enjoy the positive effects of caffeine without the negative, you might consider trying superfood latte mixes. These mixes contain natural ingredients that can enhance cognitive function and provide sustained energy without the jitters or anxiety often associated with caffeine. By incorporating these lattes into your daily routine, you may be able to reap the benefits of caffeine while minimizing the downsides.