Using Caffeine Wisely
by NatureBox Nutritionist Kat Brown, MS RD RYT
Americans are high-octane people- we work hard and play hard. Often times that leaves us feeling a little burned out at times. It’s so tempting to reach for a quick fix- often in the form of a shock of caffeine to get through the day. That’s what has made caffeine the most used “drug” in our culture. Let’s check out the ups and downs of caffeine usage, current recommendations for safe usage of caffeine, and some alternatives to excessive java.
Caffeine was originally isolated by chemists in the 1820’s from coffee, hence the “café” part of the name. It’s a nervous system stimulant, generally recognized as safe in moderate amounts, causing enhanced alertness, focus and coordination. The effects of caffeine are at their peak within an hour of consumption, and typically last 4-6 hours. Experts recommend limiting caffeine to 300 mg per day. That’s the amount in about 2-3, 8 ounce cups of brewed coffee or 3 (1.5-2 ounce) shots of espresso per day. Tea has less caffeine than coffee- black tea contains about 50 mg per cup, and green tea has half of that at about 25 mg per cup. Energy drinks and some medications contain caffeine as well, check the labels for the amount.
Research shows that up to 90% of Americans have some caffeine each day. And certainly with our fast-paced lifestyles, many people overdo it- which can lead to nervousness, agitation and even heart palpitations. Also, relying on caffeine as a band-aid for lack of sleep is only a temporary solution. Some feel more worn out when the high wears off, leading to a stimulant-crash-stimulant cycle and even sleepless nights from being caffeinated during the afternoon hours. Which can lead to another groggy morning, more caffeine… you get the picture.
It is best to look to more holistic remedies to regulate energy levels. Setting aside time to decompress during the day, getting sufficient sleep, movement, fluids and nutritious foods can keep you feeling naturally jazzed the whole day through.
Now that you’ve got some background, here’s to hoping you can caffeinate wisely! Tell us: what your morning wake-up vice?
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Kat Brown MS RD RYT is a San Francisco Bay Area based Registered Dietitian and Yoga Teacher. As a nutrition counselor, writer, cook, and yogini she seeks to inspire others to nourish themselves and live balanced, fulfilled lives.