Thoughts On: The A.M. Caffeine Dose

I have a lot of random thoughts throughout the day, many of them snarky and politically incorrect, but occasionally I have a thought that might actually be interesting or beneficial to some of you.  This post series will be all of those random thoughts I have!


caffeineApparently Americans are slightly famous for being addicted to caffeine, namely coffee.  I think it’s quite a worldwide problem at this point, but I am, of course, also guilty of this phenomenon.  I say Americans are namely addicted to coffee because when I visited the UK I did some observation in a physical therapy clinic and one of the physio’s (as they’re called there, not therapists) offered me tea or coffee when he had a break between patients.  I asked for tea.  His response was, “What?  No coffee?  I thought that was a crime for an American to turn down coffee!”  So evidently we give off that impression somehow.  It could be the Starbucks on every single block in NYC.  Maybe.  Possibly.  Just saying.

Tea

As I said previously though, I’ve been drinking tea to get my daily caffeine fix for quite a while now.  My morning favorite is PG Tips as recommended by Estee from EssieButton.  I never used to drink anything caffeinated until mid afternoon, but now if I don’t start by day with a cup of tea I feel like something is missing from my life.  In fact, I often feel like Mushu from Mulan.

 mulan

In the afternoon I’ll branch out and have something more interesting like green or oolong tea, but it’s very rare that I drink coffee anymore.  The first reason is that I was introduced to Cafe Santo Domingo (Dominican coffee) by my boyfriend about a year and a half ago and since having that most coffee in the US just tastes bad to me.  Yes, I realize some of you may think I’m crazy but it does taste different to me now.  I also like tea because I feel like I don’t crash as much halfway through the day as with coffee, it’s more of a gentle taper off.

There have also been numerous studies that have shown that consuming moderate amounts of tea or coffee actually provide health benefits.  Both contain a small amount of antioxidants, which are simply substances that help neutralize free radicals that can cause cellular damage.  Caffeine is a stimulant so it boosts your metabolism very slightly and can help you to push a bit harder during your workout and expend more energy.

At this point I feel the need to be a bit more specific on some of those claims on tea and coffee.

  • A moderate amount is defined as 2-4 cups, a cup being 8 fl oz or about 240mL.  Not a Venti at Starbucks.
  • The metabolic boost you get from caffeine is very slight and also temporary.  Most people completely metabolize caffeine in 4-6hrs.  It can take longer depending on how much you consume.
  • Caffeine does not help you burn more fat, but it does help mobilize fat for use as energy.  If that idea confuses you, think of it like this: Taking the food out of the fridge and putting it on a plate is not the same as eating all of the food on that plate.  One may logically follow the other, but not always.  If you put a lot more food on the plate than you’re able to consume at once you’ll have to put the rest back in the fridge.  The same sort of thing happens with the fat in your body.
  • It is completely possible to negate any health benefits from coffee or tea if you load up on extra calories in the form of sugar, milk, cream, Splenda, etc.  Especially before a workout session, artificial sweeteners can cause lower GI issues (read: stomach cramps and diarrhea).
  • And lastly, consuming too much caffeine can result in health issues.  Besides jitteriness and insomnia, some studies suggest that it may increase your risk of heart disease.

That turned into a bit of a scientific ramble, but I hope it’s helpful to some of you.  There are conflicting viewpoints on many of these ideas, but I tend to find that following the old adage “Everything in moderation” is a safe way to go.  The point I’m trying to make here is that a morning cup of tea won’t kill you, and if it makes your day more pleasant then you might as well sit and enjoy your moment of happiness 🙂

What about you?  Do you like to start your day with a cup of caffeinated beverage?  If so, what’s your favorite?  I always love trying new teas if you have any recommendations.

*Photo Credit: The gif image of Mushu from Mulan was found in a Google search and taken from the tumblr account Gifs to Wear Pants To.

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