More than 90 percent of adults use caffeine on a daily basis. If you're a regular coffee drinker, that number probably doesn't surprise you. You've seen the long lines at your favorite coffee shop.
Coffee is a popular pick-me-up for many of us, but do we really get more energy from it? Some people swear by coffee and can’t start their day without it, while others stay away from caffeine.
But how does coffee actually affect our energy levels? In this blog post, we will look at the science of coffee and caffeine to answer this burning question: does coffee really give you more energy?
We will explore how coffee affects your physical and mental energy levels and how you can best use it as an energy source. So if you want to know the truth about whether or not your daily cup of joe is really giving you a boost, read on!
Why Can't You Function Without Your Morning Cup of Coffee?
We all know the feeling. You wake up groggy and sluggish, struggling to get out of bed. But as soon as you have that first cup of coffee, you feel like you can take on the world.
Your energy levels seem to skyrocket, and you can finally think clearly and focus on your daily tasks. So what gives? Why can't you function without your morning cup of coffee?
The answer lies in caffeine, coffee's natural "energizing" compound. Caffeine works by blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel sleepy.
The Science of Caffeine
The science of caffeine is fascinating. Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance found in coffee beans. When consumed, it acts as a stimulant, increasing alertness and feelings of energy.
Caffeine affects the central nervous system, causing the brain to release dopamine and adrenaline. These hormones increase alertness and can improve mood.
Caffeine is absorbed quickly after consumption, reaching peak levels within 30-60 minutes. The effects of caffeine can last for several hours. Caffeine is metabolized differently in different people, which explains why some people are more sensitive to its effects than others.
Why Do So Many People Rely On Caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant that has been shown to improve alertness and focus.
When caffeine enters the body, it blocks adenosine receptors. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that promotes sleepiness and fatigue. When caffeine binds to these receptors, it prevents adenosine from binding and having its effects. This makes us feel more awake and less tired.
Caffeine also causes an increase in dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and motivation. This increase in dopamine may explain why some people enjoy the feeling of being "wired" on caffeine and find it challenging to give up even though it can cause side effects like anxiety and insomnia.
So, why do so many people frequently consume caffeine? Simply put, caffeine makes people feel good - it improves alertness, promotes happiness, and stimulates motivation.
Caffeine Is a Reinforcing Agent
Did you know that you're more likely to be drawn to flavors that contain caffeine? Caffeine is a reinforcing agent.
In other words, we experience a reward when we drink caffeine. Whether that be due to the company we're keeping, the boost of alertness, or how the mug feels in your hands, you're getting some reward.
A study in 2013 looked at the reinforcing effect of caffeine in honeybees. It showed that the bees preferred nectar sources that contained caffeine.
In this study, researchers removed certain elements to ensure that it wasn't the flavor the bees were attracted to. Bees experienced a reward from drinking the nectar that contained caffeine, creating a reinforcing effect.
Other studies have shown caffeine to act as a reinforcer in humans.
Does Coffee Give You More Energy?
It is a common belief that coffee gives you more energy. But does it? The answer may surprise you.
Coffee does not give you more energy. It may give you a temporary boost but it is not a long-term solution.
Instead, as discussed above, the caffeine in coffee blocks adenosine, a hormone that makes you tired. This is why you may feel more alert after drinking coffee.
However, the effects of caffeine only last for a short time. After the initial boost from the caffeine wears off, you will likely feel just as tired as you did before you had coffee.
So, what does coffee do if it doesn’t give you more energy? Coffee can improve your focus and make you more productive.
It can also help to increase your metabolism and improve your physical performance. However, these benefits are not due to the caffeine in coffee. They are due to other chemicals, such as chlorogenic acid and antioxidants.
While coffee may not give you more energy, don't write it off, it can be a helpful tool if used in moderation.
How Much Caffeine Should You Ingest?
We all know that feeling: you’ve just downed a cup of coffee, and you can feel the energy coursing through your body. It’s no wonder that coffee is the go-to morning beverage for so many people. But how much caffeine is too much?
The FDA recommends that adults consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine daily. That’s about four cups of coffee. Other suggestions are to only consume one to three milligrams of caffeine per one kilogram of your body weight.
However, everyone metabolizes caffeine differently, so it’s important to know your own tolerance. If you start to feel jittery or anxious, that’s a sign that you’ve had too much.
The Benefits of Caffeine
Even though caffeine doesn't give you more energy, it has many other benefits. Some of these benefits include the following:
Caffeine Has Neuroprotective Effects
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, and it has been shown to have neuroprotective effects. A recent study showed that caffeine consumption might help to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Caffeine has also been shown to improve memory and cognitive performance.
However, how does caffeine help with dementia and Alzheimer's disease? Part of these effects can get tied back to the fact that caffeine increases catecholamines that act as neuromodulators.
What Are Neuromodulators?
Neuromodulators are chemicals that modify the activity of neurons. They can either increase or decrease the activity of neurons, and this change in activity can influence the way we feel and think. Neuromodulators are found throughout the brain and body and are essential in regulating mood, motivation, and sleep cycles.
What Are Catecholamines?
Catecholamines are a class of organic compounds that include the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. These molecules are derived from the amino acid tyrosine. Catecholamines are involved in many physiological processes, including stress response, cardiovascular function, and metabolism.
Dopamine is a catecholamine that plays a role in reward-motivated behavior. Norepinephrine is a catecholamine released in response to stress and increases heart rate and blood pressure.
Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is a catecholamine released during moments of high stress or danger and prepares the body for fight-or-flight by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
While all three of these catecholamines have different functions, they all work to increase energy levels. This can be beneficial in moments of stress or danger when we need to be alert and ready to respond. However, when catecholamine levels are constantly elevated due to chronic stress or anxiety, this can lead to adverse health consequences such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.
Catecholamines Neuroprotective Role
Catecholamines have numerous effects on the brain and body, but one of their most important roles is neuroprotection. This means that catecholamines help to protect neurons from damage and death. This neuroprotective effect is thought to be mediated by several mechanisms, including:
- Increasing cerebral blood flow: Catecholamines increase blood flow to the brain, which helps to provide oxygen and nutrients to neurons
- Enhancing antioxidant defenses: Catecholamines activate enzymes that help to protect cells from oxidative stress
- Reducing inflammation: Catecholamines can reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain; this is important because inflammation is thought to contribute to neuronal death
- Promoting neurotrophic factor expression: Catecholamines can increase the expression of molecules like BDNF, which play a crucial role in neuronal survival
Caffeine Increase Free Testosterone Levels
Caffeine has been shown to increase free testosterone levels in the body. This is important for men because it can help to improve muscle mass, strength, and stamina. Additionally, caffeine can also help to improve mental alertness and cognitive function.
Stimulates Cortisol Secretion
Caffeine also stimulates the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that helps to improve focus and attention. Cortisol is essential for maintaining energy levels during times of stress or danger.
Antidepressant Effects of Caffeine
A cup of coffee may be just what you need to perk up, but it will not give you sustained energy throughout the day. Caffeine is a stimulant, and it does have some antidepressant effects. But those effects are primarily because it’s a psychoactive compound and not because it provides any real energy.
Caffeine also increases levels of other neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are associated with pleasure and motivation and can help improve mood. That’s one of the reasons caffeine can have antidepressant effects.
Performance Benefits of Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system. It can increase alertness and improve mental and physical performance.
Caffeine has been shown to improve physical performance by increasing adrenaline levels and delaying fatigue. It can also improve mental performance by improving reaction time, alertness, and short-term memory.
The effects of caffeine vary from person to person. Some people are more sensitive to its effects than others. The amount of caffeine in coffee can also vary depending on the type of bean, the brewing method, and how long the coffee is brewed.
How to Avoid Your Afternoon Caffeine Crash
Assuming you’re drinking coffee in the morning to help you wake up and start your day, you probably notice a lull in energy around 2 or 3 p.m. This is called an “afternoon slump,” and for many of us, it’s familiar.
However, there are ways you can combat it by allowing the adenosine in your body to deplete naturally.
Get Enough Sleep
Coffee may give you a temporary boost, but it can also lead to sleep problems later. Caffeine is a stimulant that can stay in your system for up to 12 hours, so drinking coffee late in the day may interfere with your sleep. That’s why it’s important to get enough sleep every night – seven to eight hours is ideal – so you can wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
Go Outside When You Wake Up
There are plenty of benefits to getting some fresh air first thing in the morning. For one, it can help wake you up and get your blood flowing. Going outside can also help improve your mood and give you a boost of energy.
When you get five to 20 minutes of sun exposure after waking, you experience a spike in cortisol. This spike allows your body to flush out the remaining adenosine that keeps you from fully waking up.
We’ve all been there. You’re struggling to keep your eyes open, desperate for just a few more minutes of sleep. But you have to get up and get moving. You have things to do!
So you chug some coffee, hoping it will give you the energy you need to face the day. However, often getting up and starting your day with movement will do just as much. Going for a walk or engaging in light exercise can help your body deplete the remaining adenosine.
Try starting the morning with a nature walk or yoga.
Delay Caffeine Intake
If your coffee is brewing before your alarm even goes off, we understand. It's common to believe you can't face the day without that caffeine boost.
However, it's better to delay your coffee intake by 90 to 120 minutes.
When we first wake up in the morning, our adenosine levels are high. This makes us feel tired and sleepy. As the day goes on, our levels of adenosine decrease, making us feel more alert and energetic.
As we mentioned, caffeine works by blocking the action of adenosine. This means that it can help reduce tiredness and make us more awake and alert.
However, delaying gratification can give your body the chance to deplete the remaining adenosine naturally. This can help you avoid your afternoon slump.
Find More Energy Naturally and Still Enjoy Your Cup of Joe
Coffee is a popular beverage that many people rely on to boost their energy, focus, and mood. It also provides a healthy dose of antioxidants. If you're looking for the best coffee to upgrade your daily routine, check out our High Antioxidant Coffee.