To declare caffeine as a popular drug is an understatement. Caffeine makes the world go 'round. Let's admit it, if some natural occurrence destroyed caffeine overnight, global economies would probably collapse as cities came to a standstill. Without morning coffee, it's unlikely Wall Street would open or society would be able to function without being extremely groggy, irritable, and unproductive.
Ninety percent of society starts each day with caffeine. Think about that. Nine out of ten people you see each day begin the day with coffee, soda, or some other caffeine means in order to face the day. However, despite its massive popularity, caffeine is still a drug with many unknowns, many unnoticed side effects, and many common myths that people believe, even after a lifetime of using it on a near-daily basis. Let's debunk some of the most common caffeine myths!
You have to drink it
Caffeine is found everywhere. Sure, your daily coffee, soda, or Red Bull is chock full o' caffeine… but many of the foods you eat on a daily basis contain caffeine, even if you don't realize it. Oatmeal, sunflower seed, and even chocolate contain caffeine. Alcohol, NSAIDs, ice cream, and even breath mints contain some caffeine. If you are sensitive to caffeine, or looking to get better sleep by avoiding caffeine late, then taking a very close look at the nutritional caffeine content of the foods you eat may be a good. There's a high likelihood you're consuming caffeine every day in places you never noticed before!
Caffeine dehydrates you
This is a common myth which is partially true, but only when the person isn't drinking enough water to begin with. If you are consuming some caffeine each day, then yes, you are increasing the amount of water your body needs from the standard eight 8-ounce guideline that most use. However, if you're adding more water to offset the caffeine consumption, then you never have cross into the dehydrated state! A good rule of thumb is that you should consume 1 extra 8-ounce cup of water for every 100 mg of caffeine that you are consuming each day. If you do this, you can enjoy fairly high levels of caffeine without ever becoming dehydrated. It's only when you live on soda and tea, never stopping to chug a water bottle here and there, that dehydration will creep up on you.
Caffeine messes with your ticker
Because of some of the stimulant effects of caffeine, it's long been believed that caffeine has negative effects upon the heart. The truth - shown through a Harvard University study of 50,000 people who consumed coffee - is that no relationship exists between the consumption of coffee and the occurrence of heart disease. Of course, if you start consuming 2 pots of coffee a day instead of 2 cups, there are a bevy of other side effects which will arrive which could affect many of your body's systems. However, casual coffee consumption won't hurt your heart, which is good news for most health-conscious coffee drinkers!
Decaf is caffeine free
Decaffeinated coffee sure contains less caffeine than your standard cup of Joe. But decaf doesn't mean zero. Many cups of decaf coffee still contain up to 15 mg of caffeine. For the standard coffee drinker, the 15 mg enjoyed in a sip or two won't have that much of an impact. But, if you are hyper sensitive to caffeine, even the small amount in decaf coffee could have an effect upon you. Be careful!
Caffeine is super addictive
This isn't technically true, although many people who miss their morning coffee may disagree with you! Short-term side effects of halting caffeine use, such as headaches and fatigue, are experienced by all of us when we forget our daily caffeine dose. However, compared with actual harder drugs whose side effects can negatively affects help and performance of the body, caffeine is just a mosquito bite! You don't "need" caffeine and you won't die or end up suffering major medical episodes without it - you just really like it. In that manner, while withdrawing from it is not fun, you will not face the medical issues that harder drugs present to users who choose to halt usage.
You need caffeine to train at the highest levels
There's no doubt that consuming caffeine will help your training energy and focus levels. However, the mild side effects of caffeine use at higher levels, such as anxiety, can often work against you. Caffeine doesn't affect the muscles of your body in a bodybuilding sense… it merely stimulates your central nervous system, allowing you to train at a higher level of intensity. If you can reach inside and find the same level of drive and work ethic without caffeine, your workouts will be excellent and enjoy the same levels of success. Being able to self-motivate is the biggest challenge for the non-coffee lifters!
Caffeine is here to stay. Its impact upon the productivity of society is immeasurable. Increased mental acuity, better moods, higher levels of performance, and just plain better focus all arise from caffeine use. The trick to successfully enjoying the benefits of caffeine consumption without harming your body is to learn as much as you can about this valuable drug, and use it wisely. Good luck!