Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Blog

Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition

The Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to sports and sports fitness, general fitness, bodybuilding, nutrition, weight loss, and human health. Here, you'll find everything from nutritional information and advice about healthy eating to training and exercise tips for improving your overall well-being.

Previous in Blog: The Next Best Thing to Nap Time   Next in Blog: CR4 Olympic Coverage: Wearables Push Athletes to Glory
Close
Close
Close
12 comments

Science in Caffeine and Coffee

Posted May 05, 2016 7:00 AM by cheme_wordsmithy

We've heard it on the news time and again... "food study X says drinking coffee everyday is good for your health". [Two weeks later] "food study Y finds those who don't drink coffee live longer". I'm waiting the headline that reads "research suggests we don't really know much about the health effects of our food and drink".

To be fair, coffee is actually one of the most studied and understood components of our diet. And this is understandable, considering the millions of people (myself included) who have made coffee an integral part of their morning routine. There's even a website dedicated to collecting information on coffee health studies. And so I delved into the realm to see what conclusions I could find surrounding coffee health, specifically related to caffeine, its primary active ingredient.

When you drink coffee (or other caffeinated beverages) the caffeine is digested by the small intestine, metabolized in the liver, and distributed to the rest of the body. This process takes about 45 minutes from ingestion, although some of the effects can be felt in as early as 15 minutes. Caffeine acts as a competitive inhibitor to the degradation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cyclic AMP), due to its similar structure (pictured right). This leads to a buildup of cyclic AMP, which is responsible for most of the pharmacological effects of caffeine that we see. These effects include:

  • Increased strength of the sympathetic nervous system's response (fight-or-flight response).
  • Increased metabolism through promotion of fat lipolysis and fatty acid oxidation.
  • Increased athletic performance through increase in serotonin levels leading to increase in the firing of skeletal muscle motor neurons.
  • Increased mental performance through an increase in cerebral blood flow leading to increased efficiency of neurotransmitters.
  • Increased urination through stimulation of the urinary tract, especially in those who are not consistent coffee drinkers or who ingest it after withdrawal.

When we drink too much coffee at one time or in a day, we become "over-caffeinated", and can experience jitteryness, fatigue, anxiety, and headaches. For adults, too much caffeine can mean anywhere from 4-12 mg per kg body mass, which I will note is a very sizable range. For me (a 150lb male), that means I should limit myself to anywhere between 3 and 9 cups of filtered coffee a day (a typical cup contains 85mg caffeine). I rarely drink more than 3 cups in one day, but I'm pretty sure it's a scientific fact that 9 cups would cause my head to explode.

Those of you who think 9 cups/day is nothing are probably more familiar with withdrawal symptoms. Caffeine has a half life of 3-5 hours; this means by tomorrow only about 0.4-1.6% (virtually none) of the caffeine you ingested from this morning's "dose" will remain. People who have been become accustomed to having caffeine (especially larger amounts) in their system may experience headaches, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, or pain in joints and the stomach from a withdrawal = not a fun day.

When I started looking at studies of the long term effects of coffee and caffeine, the science became less concrete. There are a litany of perceived benefits and some drawbacks, but for low/moderate consumption most of the effects were very slight or small. I won't get into describing them all, but I encourage you to check them out yourself if you're interested. Or just read the news and wait for the next one to pop up, probably tomorrow…

All food health studies, in my book, should probably be taken with a grain of salt given the number of variables that are unique to each person's genetics, diet, and lifestyle. It's much easier in some ways to study the mechanisms and the short-term effects that foods produce every time we partake. Though I found the resounding conclusion of most long-term studies is moderation - don't make a habit out of drinking too much coffee, and you're probably OK.

Also, maybe avoid being like my college roommate who decided to "triple brew" a few cups before an exam, or my other friend who mistakenly prepared his morning cup using espresso beans... Again, not a fun day.

References

Coffee and Health

Caffeine Pharmacology

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 30958
Good Answers: 1727
#1

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

05/05/2016 10:55 AM

I don't think coffee is good for you at all....anything that tries to replace regular exercise by chemically elevating heart rate and blood pressure has consequences...some people are a lot more sensitive to caffeine than others and regular coffee drinking could cause loss of sleep, irritability, heart murmur, fits of rage, dry mouth, muscle twitching, caffeine addiction, and other unpleasant side effects....no better to just do a little exercise in the morning, get that heart rate up in a legitimate fashion...

__________________
Break a sweat everyday doing something you enjoy
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Power-User
Hobbies - Musician - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member

Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 437
Good Answers: 6
#2

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

05/05/2016 11:38 AM

I quit all caffeine for two weeks earlier this year and the effects were pretty interesting. I found that with musical performance I was MUCH calmer and more focused, but that I was about 90% less productive at my sit-at-a-desk-and-write-on-a-computer day job. I slept like a log and had very vivid dreams, but the headaches and complete lack of productivity led me back to doing one cup a day. Conclusion: this stuff's powerful.

I was inspired to quit by Caffeine Informer, a supposedly unbiased website about the perils of caffeine use. Maybe I'll take a two-week vacation sometime (ha) and try to quit again...

__________________
Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. -Camus
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 30958
Good Answers: 1727
#3
In reply to #2

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

05/05/2016 12:16 PM

Yes the headaches are brutal, I have suffered through these myself...about 2 days, aspirin no help, if anything, makes it worse....but my fear of nerve damage and the jitters has keep me off coffee for some time now...chocolate seems to be better...

__________________
Break a sweat everyday doing something you enjoy
Reply
Power-User
Hobbies - Musician - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member

Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 437
Good Answers: 6
#4
In reply to #3

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

05/05/2016 12:25 PM

I think I'm still at the low end of the scale...probably 8-10 oz of coffee every morning, and an occasional green tea in the afternoon. Through a little research I've found that holding off until 9:30 am or so helps maximize the effects of the little caffeine I do ingest. I used to set my coffeemaker for 6 am and use it to wake me up, but water provides the same effect.

__________________
Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. -Camus
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 30958
Good Answers: 1727
#5
In reply to #4

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

05/05/2016 1:38 PM

Yes I water first too, and sometimes follow with a little Boost...

__________________
Break a sweat everyday doing something you enjoy
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 22637
Good Answers: 409
#6

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

05/05/2016 2:08 PM

"Coffee contains a tremendous number of chemicals, with over 1000 aroma compounds. If you are looking for antioxidants, the most abundant phenolic compounds in coffee are chlorogenic acids (CGAs), which account for up to 12 per cent of the dry weight of green unroasted coffee beans"

And the amount of toxic chemicals toxic chemicals in coffee is tremendous.

I'd do more cut and pasting,... but let me finish me coffee first.

__________________
“ When people get what they want, they are often surprised when they get what they deserve " - James Wood
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Tulare, CA
Posts: 1783
Good Answers: 35
#7

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

05/06/2016 10:17 AM

I had an aunt that passed away a few years ago at the age of 102. One of her caregivers got up and spoke at her eulogy. She said one of the things that she noticed with all the elderly that pass away after a long life was that they all drank five cups of black coffee a day.

__________________
Why is there never enough time to do it right the first time but always enough time to do it over?
Reply
2
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 22637
Good Answers: 409
#8
In reply to #7

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

05/06/2016 10:45 AM

There are some sound and pretty good reasons to support that observation.

And some of my own speculations is the toxic chemicals (from link on my earlier post) are at a level to fight stave off disease, without too adverse effects on the subject..

__________________
“ When people get what they want, they are often surprised when they get what they deserve " - James Wood
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 30958
Good Answers: 1727
#9
In reply to #7

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

05/06/2016 12:23 PM
__________________
Break a sweat everyday doing something you enjoy
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Tulare, CA
Posts: 1783
Good Answers: 35
#10
In reply to #9

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

05/06/2016 1:56 PM

My Aunt was 102.

__________________
Why is there never enough time to do it right the first time but always enough time to do it over?
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: 44.56024"N 15.307971E
Posts: 6474
Good Answers: 249
#11

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

10/30/2016 12:54 PM

I look at my grandparents, that lived to be in their 90's and they were not blown astray by every wind that came by,telling them what was good or bad for them.

They ate what they wanted to eat.

Butter,Lard,Pork,Eggs,Whole Milk,unpasteurized,just to name a few.

When I had to decide to use butter or margarine,I decided to get an outside opinion on the matter.

I put a pat of each in a saucer out on my deck,and watched which ones the flies went to.

They went for the butter,and practically ignored the margarine.

An old saying:"Don't eat what the dog won't eat" applies here.

I had rather have an apple with a worm hole in it than a pristine,photo quality,shiny carnuba-dipped product that has been made so poisonous that a a bug will not eat it.

I can avoid the worm,and eat around it,but if I accidentally ate the worm,no harm would come to me because of it.

I cannot say the same for the store a bought apple.The dangers there leave no mark on the outside.

__________________
"A man never stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child." "Never argue with a stupid person.They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience"
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 22637
Good Answers: 409
#12
In reply to #11

Re: Science in Caffeine and Coffee

10/30/2016 1:13 PM

They also had different lifestyles... wanted heat, you made firewood. Want meat you butchered your young stock. Etc...

the key, they were more active. As in Not going to the gym, but active as in to live, which paid off in their later years.

__________________
“ When people get what they want, they are often surprised when they get what they deserve " - James Wood
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 12 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Hannes (2); HiTekRedNek (1); Janissaries (2); phoenix911 (3); SolarEagle (4)

Previous in Blog: The Next Best Thing to Nap Time   Next in Blog: CR4 Olympic Coverage: Wearables Push Athletes to Glory

Advertisement