18 Mar What is your caffeine ritual really doing to you?
When was the last time you had a coffee? Go on, think about it for a minute. For most of us the answer is likely to be this morning. Did you like it? What did it smell like? Where were you when you had it? And more importantly why did you choose to have it?
Coffee is delicious, and can be so beneficial to us. Yet sometimes, without knowing, coffee can also have unintended consequences. We choose to have coffee as a pick me up, as a habit, or just as a social thing. But do you really know what the last coffee you had did to your body and to your mind? Many of us don’t. I certainly didn’t before I started learning about how coffee acts on a cellular level.
For the nerds:
Caffeine (1,3,7-trimethylxanthine) is a plant alkaloid and is the main active ingredient in coffee and acts by blocking the action of phosphodiesterase (PDE). Inside the cells PDE breaks down another chemical messenger cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).
Caffeine acts by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), increases dopamine and acetylcholine and acts as an antagonist to adenosine.
In short, in the forebrain it improves our alertness, mood and cognition, offsets sleepiness and has many physiological effects on the cardiovascular system, muscle contractions. No wonder we all love it !!
Peak caffeine benefits happen between 15-120 mins of ingestion and depending on how healthy you are, it can take you between 5-9.5hrs to eliminate coffee from your system.
How is my coffee affecting me?
If only our body could speak to us! Well it turns out it does, ALL THE TIME! We aren’t always good at listening. Despite some solid benefits, caffeine can be problematic for some people. One of the main ways caffeine can adversely affect us is in terms of anxiety. There is a correlation between the amount, timing and how caffeine is consumed and the level of anxiety one may experience. If after your daily cuppa, you are jittery, nervous and unable to sleep later, caffeine may not be your bestie.
Please don’t take coffee away from me 🙂
Rule # 1 – Non- negotiable
Delaying consumption to 90 min post waking up
The human in us tends to have coffee upon waking. However this can lead to a dramatic dip in energy in the afternoon which then makes us reach for another one later during the day.
Delay caffeine consumption to 90 mins past waking.
This is because of the buildup of adenosine in our system (responsible for inducing sleepiness) – Adenosine accumulates the longer we are awake. Adenosine – in the morning is likely to be low. Caffeine blocks adenosine and hence makes you feel more alert. When the caffeine wears off, all of that extra adenosine floods your brain, making you even more tired than you were before. If you delay , you can make sure that you will not have a caffeine crash in the afternoon as. As levels are not quite as high as when you first wake up Plus, your cortisol will naturally wake you up in the morning . Solution – have your coffee after 90 mins nad avoid the crash.
Rule # 2 – food
Do not have coffee on an empty stomach.
Next time you reach for a coffee ask yourself ? Am I hydrated enough and did I consume enough food to support my natural energy levels? Coffee is not here to replace food. It will help you with performance and clarity but should not be your go to to feel more energised. Long-term this will lead to other issues and overload your body.
Rule # 3 – fats
Fats are your friends.
Swap your creamy oat milk for a bulletproof coffee. Why? Let’s look at the ingredients and how they work synergistically to upgrade your morning. Medium chain triglycerides will improve your energy levels while slowing down the absorption of caffeine. This will give you a more steady release of caffeine leaving out the jittery feelings.
Cheating with L theanine – The power couple
I love coffee – I will not lie. I love its bold yet delicate flavour – it keeps me on track and helps me get things done. But I enjoy the jittery and nervous feelings that my morning cuppa can bring me. What if i told you we can use some hacks to help you with that. Hello L theanine! Extracted from tea – L theanine is an amino acid and is also a relaxant as well as a nootropic. L theanine works on the brain and amplifies alpha brain waves, allowing you to stay alert but calm. How does this work with coffee?
The simplest method would be to have it before your coffee at a specific dosage. What to expect? Better mood – less anxiety-like symptoms – improved cognitive function !
Not only is the duo beneficial for the brain – the latest research also shows that when combined – they work synergistically to regulate appetite and reduce fat accumulation.
Where coffee stimulates – L theanine calms.
As with all supplements, talk to us before consuming anything new. Make sure you are checking labels and do not buy from the supermarkets. Interested in optimising your day by using caffeine and winning the day ?
Book for a free scoping session to achieve your healthiest self and discuss winning your day!
Functional Naturopath – LIFEstyle/ WELLBEING
Naturopath – BHSc Naturopathy
Australian Traditional Medicine Society