What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is the world's most popular drug, and is a naturally-occurring stimulant that is found in many leaves, seeds and fruits of plants around the world. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system which speeds messages to and from the brain, increasing mental focus and alertness, and increasing energy levels.
Where can I get Caffeine from?
Caffeine is found in a variety of natural and man-made products. The most popular source of caffeine is coffee, but it is also found in tea, chocolate, energy drinks, cola and cocoa. Caffeine is also found in a variety of pre-workout and fat burner supplements, as well as over-the-counter chemist items such as No-Doz.
What are Caffeine's Benefits?
Caffeine is mainly used for its mental and physically-stimulating effects, although it has a number of benefits:
- Mental focus
- Increased energy levels
- Reduced physical fatigue
- Improved fat-burning ability
- Long term reduced risk of cancer
What are Caffeine's Side Effects?
As with any drug, particularly psychoactive ones such as caffeine, there are a number of side effects to be wary of. The majority of side effects only become apparent when using caffeine at high doses, however. Some potential side effects of caffeine use are:
- Increased heart rate
- Heart palpitations
Who should use Caffeine?
Caffeine can be safely used by the majority of the population, and is especially useful for anyone who requires increased mental focus or improved physical performance (such as athletes). If you are a drug tested athlete, be aware of rules regarding caffeine use for your sport. Pregnant women and children are at a higher risk of side effects with caffeine use and should careful when using this substance.
The recommended daily dose of caffeine varies from person to person, and depends on a number of factors such as weight, age, sex and health issues. As a general rule, 500mg or less of caffeine per day is a safe amount. Some approximate caffeine levels for popular products are:
- Coffee - 60-100mg per espresso shot
- Chocolate - 10mg per 50g serve
- Dark Chocolate - 45mg per 50g serve
- Tea (black or green) - 30 to 100mg per cup
- Red Bull - 80-90mg per can
- Fat Burners - 200-300mg per serve
A number of sports nutrition and bodybuilding supplements contain caffeine due to the ergogenic benefits it provides. Most notably, caffeine is found in preworkout supplements and fat burners.
In a pre-workout supplement, caffeine will increase energy levels, delay fatigue and improve mental focus - all of which are excellent benefits to a productive workout. Supplements such as Dymatize Xpand 2X and Cellucor C4 are ones that feature a good amount of caffeine in each serve.
For fat burners, caffeine is excellent at increasing the amount of bodyfat used as energy, as well as improving mental focus and mood (which is great if you're dieting!). Nutrex Lipo 6 Black and Muscletech Hydroxycut are two of the most popular fat burners containing caffeine.
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