You're back to work/school now full-time. You find that whether it's work from home-style or in the office, you are struggling to stay focused on your tasks, you're dozing off and tired, or you're just plain old easily distracted. Either way, productivity is at an all-time low. *Caffeine has entered the chat*
Caffeine Supplement Spotlight
What is caffeine? It's in the coffee you drink, it's in the energy drink, the soda, the chocolate you consume, and many other substances. We know it makes us feel more awake, more energized. What is it though? Caffeine is a powerful stimulant, and it can be used to improve physical strength and endurance. It is classified as a nootropic because it sensitizes neurons and provides mental stimulation. That being said, it doesn't actually contain any energy in it, as caffeine as a substance has 0 kcal. Caffeine’s main mechanism concerns antagonizing (or blocking) adenosine receptors. Adenosine causes sedation and relaxation when it acts upon its receptors, located in the brain. This means that it inhibits the feeling of sedation/ relaxation and therefore makes you feel more awakened and alert. This inhibition of adenosine can influence the dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and adrenaline systems in the body as well. Caffeine may affect sports performance through both peripheral and central mechanisms. The mechanism for improved endurance, sprint, and power performance has been related to simple biologic mechanisms, such as glycogen sparing, increased intracellular Ca++ concentration, and/or altered excitation-contraction coupling. As mentioned above, however, caffeine delays fatigue through its effects on the central nervous system (CNS) and thus decreases the rate of perceived exertion in many different types of sport-related exercise and cognition.
Caffeine is an amazing tool for not only a Monday morning before work, but there is also considerable research to back the use of Caffeine supplementation for sports performance. Whether its caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, energy drinks, or pills caffeine all works along the same pathways/mechanisms in the body and should be dosed according to the individual. If you are new to caffeine supplementation, start with a 100mg dose at first, for example. Typically, 200mg of caffeine is used for fat-burning supplementation, while acute strength increases occur at higher doses, 500mg and above. Researchers tend to use a dosage range of 4-6mg/kg body weight, especially when tracking influence on sports performance. Many of caffeine’s effects, including fat burning/oxidation, strength benefits, and euphoria, are subject to the individual's tolerance, and may not occur in people that are used to caffeine, no matter how large the dose is. This means that while caffeine has a lot of potential benefits to it, there is a mild downfall in the fact that tolerance can be built up to it. In the long run, the effects of caffeine consumption can diminish drastically and see a decrease in performance outcomes.
All of this being considered, caffeine comes with two major drawbacks in helping with sports performance/cognitive performance.
You develop a tolerance over time. No matter the dosing, when tolerance to caffeine is built up, the literature gives us reason to believe that the effectiveness of supplementation decreases.
You experience extreme fatigue in the form of a "caffeine crash."
How can we avoid Caffeine Crash?
Simple, find caffeine sources that are high in L-Theanine, or take it in conjunction as a supplement with caffeine. L-Theanine is an amino acid that is not common in the diet (not one of the essential amino acids or even one of the common nonessential amino acids) and is deemed a non-dietary amino acid similar to L-Citrulline. Think of L-theanine as a relaxing agent without sedating the consumer (relatively similar to something like a lemon balm which relaxes but may also sedate the user), and is also implicated in reducing the perception of stress and slightly improving attention. That being said, it doesn't help induce sleep in the consumer, and should not be considered as the first line of treatment for sleep-related issues. Amazingly, L-theanine combined with Caffeine intake (and other stimulants). Consider taking a dosage of 100-200mg of L-Theanine alongside your caffeine dosage of about 200-250mg. Some everyday foods/beverages that contain L-Theanine include but are not limited to oolong tea, black tea, green tea (which also contains caffeine), guarana, oral supplements, etc.
Remember, no supplement is perfect. That being said, you should utilize caffeine and L-Theanine as a tool. A tool for better productivity, for better performance, or what have you. Either way, it is a tool. Sometimes if the framing isn't right on the house, it doesn't matter how good the hammer and nails (caffeine and L-Theanine) are, you still won't be able to complete the task! Hope you enjoyed this read, as always I'll include some of the sources below. Please continue to provide me feedback on the articles, blogs, recipes, and social media posts I throw up on a regular basis. I always look forward to improving the way I'm sending my message. You can provide feedback here, or on my social media (@EvidenceNutrition) or on Youtube. Have a great rest of your weekend, hope this was informative/helpful!