While most people are pretty familiar with the wonders of caffeine, this popular nutrient has received such negative reports from the media and those who claim to be “in the know” that many have written it off as an “unsafe” stimulant without considering its many positive attributes. The good news for us java lovers is our morning’ Cup O’ Joe has simply gotten a bad rap. Caffeine has been shown in numerous research studies to be effective as a safe stimulant, thermogenic agent, weight-loss aid, and performance enhancer.

Summary

Caffeine is the most widely used “drug” in the world, consumed daily by millions in coffee, tea, and sodas. We use it for its stimulating effects, for a jolt of energy, or in an attempt to fight fatigue — and it does work. What most coffee drinkers don’t know is that caffeine mobilizes fat for use as energy, which is a great thing if you are exercising and trying to reduce fat but not so good if you spend your days sitting at a desk eating doughnuts. Caffeine is a standard part of many stimulating, weight-loss supplements.
Science

Caffeine is called a thermogenic agent because it helps speed up our metabolisms or the rate our bodies’ burn calories. It’s also quite obviously a stimulant, which explains why a stop at the local coffee shop or an afternoon Diet Coke can almost immediately make people feel more energized — mentally and physically — at least for a little while. Contrary to popular (and limiting) belief, these effects can be obtained without any of the often-proclaimed negatives.
Caffeine appears to stimulate the adrenal glands to release the hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine (i.e., adrenaline), and the brain messenger dopamine, which in turn enhance fat loss, energy, and endurance, as well as mental clarity.

Why athletes use Caffeine

Caffeine has been shown to improve performance, increasing strength output and available energy. Its stimulatory effects improve focus, concentration, and energy levels. This may be especially beneficial prior to a competition or workout.

Because caffeine suppresses appetite and aids in the use of fats for fuel, it’s almost a standard ingredient in weight-loss products. Sure, like anything, you can get too much of a good thing, but used with reason, it is safe and no more addicting than picking up lint.

Ways that Caffeine can enhance Fat Loss:
◦Increase the use of fat as a source of fuel for the body, enabling “fat loss”
◦Provide an “instant” energy boost and improve mental clarity
◦Stimulate the central nervous system, which helps overcome fatigue

Ways that Caffeine can enhance Energy & Endurance:

Research

Focused Energy and Mental Acuity at the Gym
Consuming caffeine before a workout may actually help our bodies use fatty acids for fuel, which would not only mean our cells would have more available energy to work harder but would also mean stored fat deposits are “dipped into” for that energy. In other words, caffeine may make our fat-burning workouts even more effective while giving our muscles the extra energy to push just a little harder, a little longer.

Healthy Muscle Contractions

Some researchers believe that caffeine stimulates the release of calcium into muscles, which may encourage healthy muscle contractions and improve the overall health of our muscle tissues. However, more research is needed to fully understand this possible phenomenon.

Fat Loss, Energy, and Sex Drive

In addition to caffeine’s potential fat-loss and energy-enhancing benefits, it’s also been shown to enhance sex drive in men and women, improve a sense of well-being, and actually decrease tendency toward suicide. To quote David Letterman: “If it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.” How many of us can relate?

Interestingly, women, though not men, who drank caffeinated coffee were shown to perform better on 12 different tests, suggesting caffeine has positive effects on mental speed and attentiveness. Sadly, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that taking time out for a double espresso will make you smarter.

Harvard researchers have now recently reported that drinking four or more cups of coffee per day may even lower the risk for type 2 diabetes. Still, we need more studies on this effect before coffee could be recommended for diabetes prevention.

Benefits

◦Improve focus
◦Sharpen mental acuity
◦Boost energy levels
◦Delay fatigue
◦Burn Fat
◦Increase Thermogenic Process
◦Boost metabolism
◦Use Fatty Acids as Fuel
◦Stimulate release of calcium encouraging muscle contractions and overall health of muscle tissues
References

1. “USA Today”; Petition Calls for FDA to Regulate Energy Drinks; Elizabeth Weise; October 22, 2008
2. “MedlinePlus”; Caffeine in the Diet; May 5, 2011
3. “Mayo Clinic”; Taurine in Energy Drinks: What Is It?; Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.; June 26, 2010
4. “The American Journal of Medicine”; Detrimental Effects of Energy Drink Consumption on Platelet and Endothelial Function; M.I. Worthley, et al.; February 2010
5. “The British Journal of Surgery”; Effect of Caffeine and Taurine on Simulated Laparoscopy Performed Following Sleep Deprivation; R. Aggarwal, et al.; July 14, 2011
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