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updated: 4/29/2013 6:15 AM

Caffeine can be safe if you don't overdo it

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  • One cup of coffee to start your day is OK, if you eat a healthy breakfast with it.

      One cup of coffee to start your day is OK, if you eat a healthy breakfast with it.

 

Caffeine. Is it good or bad? We get this question all the time, but the answer really depends on your current state of health.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that disrupts homeostasis within the body. Caffeine will increase heart rate and blood flow while raising your body temperature. Many people drink coffee and its accompanying caffeine to help them start their day. A cup in the morning makes you feel more alert while satisfying the physical dependence you may acquire from drinking it daily. Most experts agree that a daily cup or two of coffee or tea is considered safe.

Caffeine may not be suited for everyone though. Many people are aware that caffeine consumption may disrupt sleep cycles, but it can also cause under-hydration as well as restlessness, anxiety and irritability in mood and behavior. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes are risking added stress on the heart and circulatory system as well as a possible increase in blood sugar levels. So too much caffeine could make these conditions worse in susceptible individuals.

On the positive side, studies have shown that caffeine does improve athletic performance, which means a cup of coffee or green tea before your workout could help you accomplish more. This is due to caffeine's ability to increase muscular power output by assisting the release of calcium, as well as helping your body burn more fat as a fuel source. Caffeine consumption before a workout also lessens your rate of perceived exertion and your perception of exhaustion. Your brain makes you feel as if you aren't working as hard as you really are. This performance boost can be achieved by consuming as little as 1 milligram of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. So, for most people, a cup of coffee or green tea would be enough to boost the output of your workout.

The main concern we have with drinking coffee every morning is that many times the coffee takes the place of a complete breakfast. Many people rely solely on the caffeine and sugar in their morning cup of joe to get them through the first part of their day, but this gives them no nutritional sustenance. So as long as breakfast consists of a balance of macronutrients from actual food, we feel there is nothing wrong with having a cup of coffee or brewed tea. If you're drinking an 8-ounce caffeinated drink, be sure to drink 8-ounce of water to help offset the diuretic effect of the caffeine.

Also, be aware of your dependence on caffeine, as it is found in many sodas and energy drinks. If you have to drink more than two caffeinated drinks just to get through your day, you may want to wean yourself down to where you have more control over your own mood and energy levels. Try, instead, to fuel your body with nutrients from food so you stay energized naturally. Many caffeinated drinks contain high amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners, so limiting or avoiding them will help keep your overall health in check as well.

So be aware of the good and bad aspects of caffeine and if and how it should fit into your nutritional routine. For more exercise and nutrition tips, visit our blog at PushFitnessTraining.com or find us on Facebook and Pinterest.

Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.

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