Last weeks post about alcohol and exercise got a lot of people thinking about the drinks they consume and the exuberant amount of calories that can come with a night at the bar. This week, I want to look at how caffeine affects your performance and what the “right” amount is.

Lets look at how much caffeine is in your typical every day beverages:

caffeine-content
Most recent research indicates that 400mg of caffeine/day should be the upper limit for the average healthy adult. But, instead of taking this number as law I suggest you be self aware of your sensitivity to caffeine rather than using the 400mg as the number you can have.

Just because research has said that 400mg/day is safe does not mean that you personally can handle that much.

It wouldn’t make sense for you to rationalize getting 400mg of caffeine/day if you were having heart palpitations now would it?

How much caffeine can you have per day before the benefits diminish or you begin to have adverse effects and what does 400mg of caffeine look like in coffee and (most) energy drinks?

400mg-caffeine

On the note of energy drinks be sure that you read the label before consumption. Why do I say this? Well, I’ll just give you a visual example to better show my point. Below is a picture of a bottle of VPX Redline Xtreme and the nutrition facts:

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-10-55-06-am

This bottle contains only 8oz of liquid (half the size of a bottle of water). Would you think that a bottle this size contains more than one serving? I know I didn’t when I was first introduced to it.

Another frustrating part about this drink is that you can’t figure out how much caffeine is in each serving because it is their special “proprietary blend”. Proprietary blends are just bogus jargon that companies use to make you feel like the formula they have is the “magic pill”.

If you were to drink the entire bottle of a Redline Xtreme you would be consuming 316mg of caffeine. This number was only found because of independent lab testing.

Something else to consider is your level of sensitivity to caffeine — recent research from the Netherlands and Italy suggests that there are 3 different levels of caffeine sensitivity and all will have an effect on your “target caffeine number”.

caffeine-sensitivity

Category 1:

It may be best for you to use caffeine sparingly or attempt to remove it from your diet completely.

Category 2:

You will fall into the “typical” upper limit range of 400mg/day and will probably not see any adverse effects.

Category 3:

You are in a tricky situation. Are you drinking caffeine to get the jolt? If so you may need to look into another ergogenic aid to get the energy boost you desire. Caffeine is naturally toxic and can be a potent diuretic and if you are hyposensitive to caffeine you may need to consume much more than 500mg/day to feel any effect of it at all. If you’re drinking coffee because you like coffee… that’s fine but still practice moderation.

According to an article published by Precision Nutrition their research suggests that caffeine consumption of 3-5mg/kg of bodyweight could provide performance benefits without posing any health risks or having adverse effects. So a 100kg person would technically be able to consume 300-500mg/day with no ill effects. This recommendation falls pretty closely in line with the 400mg/day limit we have been speaking about.

What are the performance benefits (in theory) of caffeine?

Feeling of alertness.

Ability to workout harder and longer.

Increased memory.

Reduced muscle pain/soreness post workout.

*Attempt to consume caffeine 15-30min before intense exercise to allow for absorption — and the common bathroom break caffeine and coffee can lead to.

To see a complete list of supposed benefits of caffeine click HERE. Not only is the benefit list comprehensive the rest of the information in the article is great, too. Helen from Health Ambition really knocked it out of the park!

What are some of the side effects of heavy caffeine use above and beyond the recommended upper limit?

Insomnia.

Nervousness.

Restlessness.

Irritability.

Stomach upset.

Fast heartbeat.

Muscle tremors.

So what is the verdict?

Well that depends on where you peg yourself given the information provided above! If you are like most and are a category 2 sensitivity person, then you will probably be okay to follow the general guidelines listed above.

Make no mistake, though, caffeine is a drug and we should all practice moderation as we should with everything else.

If after reading this you decided that you need to reduce your caffeine intake do so in small increments rather than stopping cold turkey to avoid withdrawals symptoms (the dreaded caffeine headache).

Another thing to note is that I do not recommend that you consume 4 energy drinks in one day just to get your 400mg of caffeine.

This article was strictly about caffeine and I did not address the dangers/implications of such high consumption of standard energy drinks.

Don’t freak out on me, I like my caffeine just as much as the rest of you. Plus, Hulk Hogan is pretty scary — even in a meme.

brother