a cup of joe Fixed in the morning. Your mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Whatever you call it, many of us feel like we need that kick of caffeine to jumpstart our day and make it through the afternoon slump.
A cup or two a day can’t be bad for you, right? It depends.
Dr. Kelsey Asplin, a naturopathic doctor and owner of the Denver Naturopathic Clinic, says coffee, in particular, may provide some health benefits.
However, he explained, other studies on caffeine consumption have linked it to health risks when consumed in excess.
We dug into the research and asked our experts to see if caffeine could be bad for you.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a naturally occurring compound, a stimulant that affects the brain and central nervous system.
It reaches peak levels in the bloodstream within 30 to 60 minutes and subsequently hits the rest of your body as your blood continues to pump.
And yes, you can build a tolerance to your daily caffeine intake. Asplin cautions, though, that even if you don’t feel the energy-enhancing effects, it still affects your organs and neuroendocrine system on a cellular level.
What are the benefits of caffeine?
Having a cup of warm coffee or tea in the morning can be a soothing ritual, but caffeine also has documented benefits.
1. It helps you
After consuming low to moderate amounts of caffeine (about 40 mg to 300 mg), researchers found that people’s alertness, alertness, reaction time, and attention improved, according to a 2016 study. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.
However, caffeine did not show positive effects on memory or higher-order executive functions, such as judgment and decision making.
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2. It helps improve exercise performance
A 2013 study found that caffeine has a positive effect on exercise performance in endurance-based exercises such as cycling.
In the study, a group of cyclists performed a target time trial after consuming a beverage containing caffeine, coffee, decaf coffee, or a placebo an hour earlier.
The results showed that cyclists who received caffeine and coffee were significantly faster than those who received decaf or a placebo.
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3. It can provide health benefits
Caffeine in both green tea and coffee can be good for you.
According to a study stroke, a journal From the American Heart Association, results have found that consuming one or the other of these morning drinks offers health benefits.
Some of these benefits may be due to caffeine’s antioxidant-like properties.
Are there any negative side effects of caffeine?
As with almost anything you eat, moderation is key. When you drink excess caffeine, it can kick your adrenal glands into high gear.
“In the body, caffeine acts as a stimulant or stressor,” Asplin says. “This signals the adrenal glands to dump adrenaline and cortisol, which makes the consumer feel more alert and responsive.”
Caffeine tells your adrenal glands to release more of their cortisol and adrenaline stores — essentially borrowing from tomorrow for today.
When the adrenal glands become chronically dysfunctional, it’s not long before you see energy imbalances, sleep problems and other health effects, Asplin says.
So how much can I safely consume?
Esplin says up to 400 milligrams of caffeine, or about 4 cups of coffee, may be safe for a healthy adult without chronic stress, cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
Although he generally recommends less. “I recommend that my patients consume no more than 100 to 200 milligrams per day,” Asplin says, “and that they take periodic breaks from caffeine consumption to refresh their adrenal glands.”
Although caffeine has some negative side effects, you don’t need to give up your daily habit.
Aim for less than 400 mg from all sources of caffeine you consume.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.