Monday, October 18, 2010

Rethinking that cup of Joe

Again, Really. Yes, I'm still trying to get my mind in the right spot. Well, I guess my mind is there gotta get my heart to follow. I've already covered my LOVE of coffee so I won't revisit here.

The real irony of this is that I am sitting in a COFFEE SHOP while I write this.

Before I dive into this I want to say that caffeine affects people differently. For example: it's stated by "THEM" (you know the proverbial THEY) that someone that is high strung by nature will likely become anxious with caffeine consumption (and the amount of that consumption is highly personal) while someone who is normally quite calm won't be affected at all. Let me tell you folks this is TRUE! My husband is so SO chill that I sometimes have to check him for a pulse. He could drink a pot of coffee and be totally normal (no anxiety) and sail off to sleep at night with zero problems. I, on the other hand, fall in the high strung category and a pot of coffee would make me a batshit crazy raging witch (there's a rule.. only one swear word per sentence) and keep me up all night. (My own personal highly scientific research.. brought to you for free. You're welcome.)

My point being (yes there is one) is that you need to pay attention to your own personal response. And if you are the type that can enjoy as much coffee as you want and continue to be normal well... :P (that's me sticking my tongue out at you)

Physiologically caffeine stimulates the central nervous system by blocking adenosine which is the neurotransmitter that causes a calming effect. This in turn causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline - the fight or flight hormone. The heart rate increases, pupils dilate, muscles tighten and glucose is released into the blood stream. Caffeine also increases dopamine which activates the pleasure part of the brain. That explains a lot. I did say I LOVE me some coffee!!!!

The upside of all of this is that this can potentially make you more alert and productive in the short term. Athletically it's been shown to extend endurance when taken prior to moderately strenuous activity. Though it's been more productive in the form of capsules than it has in the form of my beloved coffee.

The downside is that it stimulates the central nervous system and can cause restlessness, headaches and irritability (hmm I definitely suffer this side effect), elevates heart rate and blood pressure and it requires your pancreas to over-work. A later effect can be excessive and chronic tiredness, even on waking in the morning.

Essentially if you drink coffee throughout the day it is constantly wreaking havoc on your hormones and stimulating your central nervous system. NO BUENO!

And man this stuff stays in your body! It's half life is about 6 hours. If you have a nice big 300mg caffeine cup of coffee at 4pm your body breaks it down to 100 mg by 10pm and 50mg by 4am. So you still have some caffeine in your system when you wake up THE NEXT DAY!!!! And this has been the time your body is supposed to be repairing itself not breaking down caffeine and having a chat with your central nervous system to JUST CHILL already!

For reference here are some breakdowns:
Starbucks Grande Coffee (16 oz) 330 (almost 2x the amt in 'other' coffee)
Coffee, Drip 115-175
Starbucks Grande Latte (16 oz) 150
Coffee, Brewed 80-135
Coffee, Espresso (2 ounces) 100
Coffee, Instant 65-100
Tea, iced 47
Tea, brewed, imported (avg.) 60
Tea, brewed, U.S. brands (avg.) 40
Tea, green 15
Hot cocoa 14
Starbucks Grande Decaf Latte (16 oz) 13
Coffee, Decaf, brewed 3-4

"They" say that generally 2 cups a day is 'ok'. Like I said it effects people differently. Caffeine at varying doses, depending on person, can prevent clear thinking, cause nervousness, sweating, tenseness, upset stomach, anxiety and insomnia. Sounds GOOD to me!

So you wanna quit now? Well, coffee (caffeine) is ADDICTIVE. In case you hadn't noticed. 18 - 24 hours post QUIT time you may have a headache, feel fatigued, irritable (hmm just like when you were drinking coffee so that's nothing new), depressed and unable to concentrate. These feelings should peak in about 24 to 48 hours and should decrease over the course of a week. Reduce your intake slowly instead of quitting cold turkey. It's also been reported that high doses of Vitamin C can help with these symptoms. (I do this.)

For those that are dying to know how my battle with the demon is going I would say well. I'm down to 1.5 cups (of half caff) now.. from 3 to 4. And I gotta say I'm feeling better. I've suffered with fatigue in the past and I should know better than to dance with the demon. I am not delusional enough to think I will 100% abstain from coffee because I do love and enjoy it, but I won't make a daily habit of it... not permanently anyway. It's better for my kids, my work outs... My dear sweet husband and anyone else that comes in contact with me really!

So what about you? Are you a full on addict? Does your coffee/caffeine (cause it's in lots of stuff) affect you in any of the ways mentioned above?

Up next Sugar. YES you can go ahead and call me the FUN KILLER.


  1. Coffee doesn't do anything to me, or at least that I can tell, so I don't drink it during the day (it makes me "go"). I do like the flavor of it with some Cheesecake for dessert, especially a Cappuccino.

  2. I love the taste of coffee and have a self-professed latte addiction, BUT I take all of mine decaf.

  3. I like coffee, and never thought it affected me. When I did my cleanse, I was off coffee for over a month. I missed the ritual of it terribly, but didn't really miss coffee itself. And I felt better than ever, lots of energy and no mid afternoon slump. when I started back, I noticed immediately I felt awful. Jittery, like my heart was going to pump out of my chest! And my MOOD. Wow. I felt quick to anger and everyone suffered. So you'd think that after those experiences I would have quit again, never to touch the stuff. Well, not so much. I drink a cup a day, half caf usually. And no side effects anymore. Probably because I do the same amount every day, just a little, so my body is used to it? I think about quitting again someday...maybe when I do my cleanse again...but the thought of never having coffee again makes me so sad I can barely stand the thought.
    Nice post though, and sounds like you are doing well curbing your addiction!
    Oh, and can't wait for the sugar post. I know it's the devil and need a good excuse to wean it from my diet. Damn Halloween coming up!!!

  4. so true Karen. Makes me sad thinking about not ever having it again! :)

    Oh yea. I didn't really consider the fact that halloween is fast approaching. Perhaps I'll hold off till after halloween on the sugar post! :)

  5. New follower...

    I'm addicted, but it's my only vice. Overtly it's the ritual but I can feel the effects of the caffeine too..

  6. Patrick.. it's so about the ritual for me too. Cup of coffee w/ my husband before we start the day ... any moment I want to illusion of a 'calm' moment... and after a long workout! :)

  7. I've gone back and forth on the no caffeine, but I drink 1 or 2 cups in the morning and I'm good. I've found that for me drinking in the afternoon just doesn't work. I also react totally differently, ie not at all, to the caffeine in green tea.

  8. fun killer.

    what you said?! ;)

    GREAT post though. Love it. I'm a highly ANXIOUS person. :( I do find I do waaaaaaay better without the caffeine in my life.

  9. Try this stuff. It's awesome.