You know you should be in the shower, but you’ve snoozed the alarm five times already and there’s no chance you are getting up soon. Won’t you be late for work?
It is very easy to sleep in and this happens almost every morning. You have to drag yourself off the bed and into the shower to start your day. And even after getting dressed you still feel this little amount of tiredness in your bone and some hovering over your head and lingering around you. You’re already late and yet to be in work mode.
So, heat a bit of coffee and then Voilà, you start to feel ready for what’s ahead — work, traffic, and a positive day.
The largest coffee drinkers in the world are the Americans with up to 70% of its adult taking at least a cup of coffee every morning and every day to Kick start their day.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why coffee is important to them and why they chose to start their day with a cup?
The main reason a lot of people all over the world take coffee is because of the benefits of its major constituent — caffeine. And although a lot of people don’t know much about some of its benefits in treating depression and how it prevents some terminal illnesses, they are aware of its benefits in boosting alertness and getting rid of fatigue and tiredness. Caffeine helps in improving alertness and it is why people enjoy coffee apart from its taste. But in recent times there has been a manufacture of caffeine pills which gives the same benefits of caffeine except for the part without coffee.
The production of these caffeine pills have created an open ground where caffeine pills vs coffee cab have about in a form of competition to see what people prefer; it has created a whole lot of options for people who want the benefits of caffeine. This article, however, would show you the difference between caffeine pills and coffee and which one to go for if you want to add a steady and healthy amount of caffeine to your diet and subsequently, your body. But first,
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system of our brain, and it is naturally occurring in some of our food items such as
- Some other beverages also contain caffeine.
Coffee can be found naturally and can also be synthesized artificially. Even when it is gotten from both sources, the concentration of caffeine varies from different sources. A cup of coffee for example could hold between 100-200 mg caffeine. A lot of factors determine the concentration of caffeine and since it varies in different sources, let’s see the concentration of caffeine in different food substances or sources:
- Black tea: a cup of black tea would contain up to 26 mg of caffeine
- Green tea: a cup of green tea would contain up to 28 mg of caffeine
- Coffee: Coffee has the largest deposit of naturally occurring caffeine. But the concentration is determined by the cup used in serving and can be influenced by the breeding technique and type. Strong coffee would have more caffeine than light one. But all things being equal, you’d find caffeine up to 95 mg in a coffee.
- Energy drinks: energy drinks are the next to coffee in having high caffeine concentration. Although caffeine is artificially synthesized in energy drinks, you would always find up to 91 mg of caffeine in them, but we also have to take note that the cone in larger cans, so they could have more
- Dark Chocolate: dark chocolates boasts around 24 mg of caffeine in them.
- Espresso: espresso is served in shots and usually contains up to 63 mg of caffeine in a shotput
- Fizzy sodas: yes, the sodas we take casually and use for parties contain caffeine but in small amounts compared to coffee and energy drinks. You can find around 49 mg of caffeine in bottles of fizzy sodas.
- Decaffeinated coffee: decaf coffee is just decaffeinated coffee. I.e. the caffeine content has been reduced. We would however always have a little amount of caffeine still there in decaffeinated coffee. A normal decaf coffee would have around 7 mg of Caffeine in it.
I know like most people you’re surprised there are other places where we can find caffeine except in coffee. That’s why it is important to know other sources where caffeine is found and the concentration of caffeine in these substances so that we can adjust what we take and avoid overconsuming caffeine which could lead to some side effects.
How Caffeine Works
We all know the basic benefits of Caffeine like preventing sleep and tiredness and improving alertness in our body. But how many are aware of how it works and how it does all these benefits.
The way it works is by acting on — stimulating — the central nervous system which consists of the brain and spinal cord to boost focus and alertness while also preventing tiredness. Caffeine takes out 45 minutes to be absorbed while it takes up to an hour in the body to reach its maximum potential.
Caffeine is similar in structure to a neurotransmitter produced in the brain which slows down the activities of the cell; this neurotransmitter is known as the Adenosine
Adenosine is a neurotransmitter like serotonin which is also produced in the brain. Adenosine works like caffeine but does the opposite of what caffeine does.
While caffeine would stimulate the central nervous system to continue its functions, adenosine suppresses the function of the central nervous system I.e. it slows down the activities of cells and nerves in the body and the process induce, fatigue, tiredness, drowsiness, practically anything that would allow our body to unwind, rest, and eventually sleep.
The time you spend awake is directly proportional to the amount of adenosine in your system. I.e. if you have been awake for a very long time, chances are the levels of adenosine in your body are extremely high as well. Adenosine levels are always low when you are just waking up, but as you progress with your day staying up and awake, adenosine levels increases as well.
What’s the Relationship between Adenosine and Caffeine?
It gets interesting here because this is, as you’re going to discover soon, where the effects of caffeine start kicking in.
We have various nerves in our body that help to transmit messages from the brain to parts of the body and from the various parts of the body to the brain.
Caffeine and adenosine would always look alike to a nerve cell. When you have caffeine in your system. I.e. when caffeine has been absorbed by your body cells, it binds itself to the receptors of adenosine on the nerve cell, which then prevents the adenosine to bind with these receptors to make you feel tired and drowsy.
The receptors won’t be able to fight or reject this invasion because they can’t differentiate between adenosine and Caffeine and then won’t be able to see it as an invasion. T
The adenosine on the other hand just stays there waiting for the effects of caffeine to wear off before it can do its work.
Because caffeine has blocked adenosine from suppressing the activities of the nerves, it triggers some kind of excitement chemicals in the brain which allows caffeine to further increase the brain’s activities in boosting focus and concentration.
This is why the time you take coffee doesn’t matter, the caffeine in coffee is ready to take action any time of the day.
What is the Healthy Amount of Caffeine that Should be Consumed?
Like every other food substance and drug, you should watch and maintain a healthy intake of caffeine or you risk exposing yourself to some health conditions.
While some people can take several cups of coffee without developing any issue, some others can’t take more than one or they are sitting opposite their doctors again.
Caffeine sensitivity is a real thing and although it varies with people, you should watch out for it.
The Food and Drugs Administration of the United States recommended a maximum intake of caffeine up to 400 mg per day. It is like a safe spot and balanced area for any adult without an underlying health condition. 400 mg of caffeine can be approximated to 3 cups at least and 4 cups at most.
Children and toddlers should however stay away from caffeine.
You shouldn’t also think because the FDA recommends 400 mg a day, you should meet that every day.
There’s something called caffeine tolerance and it varies in every individual, some can take up to 5 cups and feel nothing while another person wouldn’t even take up to 3 cups and would start to feel jitters and being anxious as well — side effects of caffeine.
I would recommend you see a doctor to know your caffeine tolerance or you could start with taking as little as 50 mg of caffeine and working your way upwards to see how your body reacts.
Effects of Caffeine on Your Health
At the beginning of this article (or close to the beginning), I mentioned that people don’t know some other benefits of caffeine in the body apart from boosting focus and concentration (feel free to check again). That is the truth. There are more things to know about the benefits of caffeine. Different research and studies have revealed more benefits of consuming caffeine than just helping you stay awake.
I’m going, to be honest with you here, some of these effects of caffeine on the health of human beings and their total well-being are overwhelming and unbelievable, but trust me they’ve been proven right by these studies.
These benefits are:
- Boosts energy levels and allows you to focus and concentration
- It improves your overall mental performance
- Helps in weight control and weight loss by suppressing appetite
- It has been proven to boost exercise performance too
- It increases the production of feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters that enhance one’s mood
Several studies have also revealed that it could help in preventing some chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and some heart diseases.
Negative Effects of Caffeine in the Body
Generally, we can go on and on about the positives that caffeine has in the body, but we need to balance the scale-out and talk about some of the downsides of caffeine in the body.
When taken in small quantities caffeine is highly effective and beneficial to the human body, but like every other drug out there, when taken too much can prove to be risky in the body. And like drugs too, caffeine works differently in people. Someone can take 3 cups and not feel a thing while another person won’t finish a cup before they start feeling overwhelmed with the effects. One of the negatives that all coffee drinkers — both those with high tolerance and those with low tolerance — experience is the caffeine crash.
Caffeine Crash occurs after 3 to 4 hours of taking caffeine. This is when the caffeine has been maxed out and used up and then the individual feels a sudden crash in energy. Remember when caffeine binds with receptors thereby blocking adenosine from slowing down the activities of the cell, caffeine spikes the energy levels in a person and when the effects start to wear off adenosine is just by the door waiting for an opportunity and when the opportunity comes, its effects is fast such that you just suddenly feel tired because you’ve lost all the energy you gained and instead of being gradual it happens at once and all of a sudden.
It is similar to a sugar crash, when caffeine has been successfully maxed out and metabolized, the temporary energy evaporates.
This is not the only side effect of caffeine, it is merely that every coffee drinkers share.
Other side effects of the overconsumption of caffeine are:
- Jitters, anxiety, and irritability
- Palpitations of the heart
- Disrupted and irregular sleeping pattern
- Loss of sleep and insomnia
- High blood pressure and headaches which could graduate to migraines
- Digestive problems
What is Caffeine Tolerance?
Caffeine is sometimes regarded as an addictive substance because of its brain stimulation and how the brain would crave for it sometimes which has made some coffee drinkers dependent on the effects of caffeine. It is why some find it difficult to start their day without coffee and when this happens, it becomes very hard to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume.
Caffeine tolerance would start setting in, and it can start as early as 3 days of regular coffee drinking. What caffeine tolerance means for your body is that after consuming caffeine for a while, the effects of caffeine take a little longer to happen in your body because your body is already getting used to it.
How the Body Does Builds Caffeine Tolerance
The more coffee you drink, the faster your body finds a way to deal with it, which means you would notice the effects of caffeine gradually going down, and this is what we call caffeine tolerance.
The body naturally does this with pills as well and when tolerance happens the effects caffeine has in stimulating the central nervous system and which would also reduce the mental alertness and exercising boost you get when you drink coffee.
You can reset this tolerance to make sure you are getting the effects of caffeine for longer and quicker; it only requires reducing the amount you take every day or stopping for a while. But people have revealed that it is extremely difficult to do this because they actually can’t work without coffee.
Like addictive substances when you limit your caffeine intake or stop taking caffeine, you would begin to notice some symptoms which have been likened to withdrawal symptoms in addicts.
Depending on how much a person is dependent on caffeine these symptoms could only last between 2-9 days and they would normally surface after up to 12 hours since your last caffeine consumption.
Some of the symptoms such a person would feel include:
- Being groggy and fatigued
- Concentration levels decreases
- Mood swings.
Avoiding the side effects of caffeine
The first thing to note is that you can’t and shouldn’t stop taking caffeine abruptly. Don’t wake up one morning and say, “today, I’m stopping caffeine and coffee drinking,” because this is how the symptoms are aggravated. Start by gradually reducing the amount you take every day. Your body would react negatively, but it won’t be as worse as stopping abruptly.
The best way to avoid the side effects of caffeine, however, is to seek a cleaner caffeine source as an alternative. Coffee has other substances in it and although they occur naturally, they are still there with different other benefits and side effects. So, look for other caffeine supplements to use. And that brings us to Caffeine Pills vs Coffee, which should you turn to for your caffeine needs.
Caffeine Pills vs Coffee: Which One Is Right for You?
Yes, some pills contain caffeine. I wanted to answer that question first, I know you must have had that in mind for a while now.
Another question you might have is if there’s a difference in caffeine pills, tablets, and capsules from the ones you get from natural sources like chocolate, coffee, and tea.
Let’s analyze and understand what each would give us when we take them. Let’s tale coffee first, benefits and then negatives.
Advantages of Coffee
- The first thing people enjoy is the pleasure of a hot drink and if it is sweetened and creamed, it a whole flex itself
- The taste is awesome as well and people enjoy it.
- The flavor of a brewed coffee is also one to die for and part of the pleasures of drinking coffee
- The best part of it is the antioxidants that scientists discovered in coffee which could help reduce the risk of developing some chronic diseases
Disadvantages of Coffee
- The first has to be that, it is very easy to overconsume caffeine because coffee is appealing.
- Drinking coffee regularly can increase your chance of getting stained teeth
- Coffee and other caffeinated drinks are always sweetened with sugar, sweeteners, and syrups. Coffee is also sometimes preferred with milk and cream by other people and these added ingredients greatly increase the calories in the drink
- Unfiltered coffee is rich in Terpene oil which tends to increase cholesterol levels in the body
- It is difficult to also know the amount of caffeine you are taking when you drink coffee because the serving cups are different and varies from place to place
- When you take coffee and other drinks high in caffeine, you are only setting yourself up for an energy crash after the effects of caffeine wear off.
Now let’s move to caffeine pills.
Advantages of Caffeine Pills
- Like every other pill, caffeine in this pill comes with a known milligram, and you would know exactly the amount you are taking.
- Comes cheaper than coffee
- Your teeth don’t get stained as in drinking coffee
- These pills also come with formulations that are balanced and they incorporate the L-theanine whose job is to counteract the negative effects of caffeine.
Disadvantages of Caffeine Pills
- Caffeine pills come in different doses which is something good, but these doses can sometimes be too much for some individuals such as people who are already sensitive to the effects of caffeine
- It contains some other compounds such as the L-theanine which is there to counteract the negative effects of caffeine which would happen if the compound is absent.
- Pills are generally not recommended for prolonged use, and this is because some pills are of low quality containing too many fillers, binders, and excipients that have harmful tendencies in the body; this also occurs in caffeine pills.
So which do we say wins?
Both caffeine pills and coffee have pros and cons, but honestly, it is hard to choose. If you’re looking for a precise amount of caffeine, you go for the pills, but if you want something natural, you go for coffee. If you are allergic to taking pills or you generally detest them, then you would have to go for coffee. If you don’t like coffee too, there are the pills too.
Caffeine Pills win and
Coffee wins as well,
But it all comes down to how you feel after reading this. You’ve seen the pros and the cons, look at them more closely to determine what you want and what works for you.
Our Conclusion is that
Moderation does it all. No matter what you are eating or drinking – foods, pills. Etc. everything you do must be done in moderation for you to experience the best things in life. Taking too much caffeine in pills, tea, or coffee would still give you some undesirable side effects so it is advised that you watch how you consume it.
In other words, please don’t consume too much caffeine.