Caffeine: Friend or Foe?

The thought of skipping the morning coffee makes many of us shudder! There’s a mixture of information out there about the effects that caffeine can have on your body – some good / some bad – we decided to take a look at both sides of the story.

👍 What’s the good news? 👍

✅  Some studies have shown that adults who consume low to moderate amounts of caffeine (about 1 cup of coffee a day) have improved exercise endurance, cognition, reaction time, and mood.
✅  Consuming a caffeine-containing energy drink 10 to 60 minutes before exercise can improve mental focus, alertness, anaerobic and/or endurance performance
✅  Caffeine will temporarily increase alertness and cognitive functioning
✅  Some studies suggest caffeine may aid weight loss.

👎 What’s the bad news? 👎

❌  Energy drinks are high in sugar and calories: this could lead to weight gain (when consumed in excess).
❌  Evidence suggests that consuming more than 300 mg can cause anxiety and panic attacks, especially for individuals under stress.
❌  Caffeine may exacerbate pre-existing heart conditions.
❌  Headaches, fatigue, tremors and upset stomachs are just a few of the complaints cited in a large double-blind study investigating moderate caffeine consumption. Very high consumption has been linked to more severe side effects.
❌  Caffeine may disrupt sleep

What about when you add alcohol (Jägerbombs!) ?

🍷 The high caffeine levels in energy drinks can disguise alcohol’s sedative effects. This means that although you will feel less drunk, you will still suffer from the associated effects of alcohol.
🍹 The energy drink will keep you awake and alert for longer; the longer time frame will inevitably lead to higher alcohol consumption!

In short Alcohol + Caffeine = Drunken antics with potentially dangerous consequences!

Putting things into perspective:

Most energy drinks, fizzy drinks and chocolate products contain low levels of caffeine: much lower than a cup of coffee! There is no evidence to suggest that energy drinks provide any more benefits than several cups of coffee. FTF recommends you try not to consume more than one energy drink per day. A spokesperson for The British Dietetic Association says “we should all try to drink coffee in moderation while paying attention to our own bodies”. In other words, there’s no reason to give up your caffeine fix; everything in moderation!

Summary of the evidence: Today’s Dietician:

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