Your coffee craving might be hiding something more sinister
Coffee. It is the most popular legal stimulant in the world.
Its popularity has blinded consumers to its effects. Most people, we find, are using it to cover up deeper health issues.
Coffee has caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant. A stimulant raises blood pressure, increases heart rate, and increases cortisol – the combination of which can make you feel ‘more alive’.
It’s a trap!
In the personal training world, coffee is like a bank loan. You take the loan out with the bank, but then the t’s and c’s say that you need to pay the loan back – and with interest~
When you drink coffee, you take out an ‘energetic loan’ – within an hour of drinking the coffee you feel good, stimulated and ‘more focused’. But in a few hours time when your body starts to clear out the caffeine, your energy starts to dip and you think ‘I’ll have another coffee’.
When you have this second coffee, you might feel a little energy spike, but generally you feel less energetic than you did with the first one. Chances are that night you’ll get home, feel too switched on to fall asleep quickly, wake up several times, toss and turn and then wake up in the morning and do it all again.
This happens because caffeine hides the build up of adenosine from your receptors in your brain. Adenosine is a chemical messenger telling your brain to become less excited so as to slow down the build up of cellular junk. This mechanism is put in place to help you get more sleep, so it can consolidate memories, and refill its energy stores. That is until it wears off and a tsunami of tiredness is unleashed upon you. Aka the “coffee crash”.
Why is this bad?
When a client of ours says they have a coffee when they wake up, another at 11 and another mid afternoon, this rings alarm bells for us. Usually this is a sign that this client has become immune to the effects of the caffeine and there is a deeper issue occurring in their body.
If you’re a healthy individual, you won’t need a coffee to ‘wake up’ in the morning, nor will you need them to stay awake throughout the rest of your day. So what is it telling us? The coffee is covering up something else that’s happening.
What is the underlying issue?
Generally, the biggest underlying issue is poor sleep.
As caffeine is a stimulant that has a half life of 3 to 5 hours, if you have coffee after 12pm, it is very likely you will still have caffeine in your body when you are ‘trying’ to go to sleep. This means your heart will still be beating fast, blood pressure is up and cortisol is high inhibiting the release of melatonin.
Waking up during the night, tossing and turning, needing to pee at 3am – are all signs that you have low sleep quality.
Other underlying issues can be:
- high stress
- digestive issues (bloating, farting, slow movement time)
- electrolyte / magnesium deficiency
In short, if you have these issues and you are drinking coffee, chances are the coffee is, and will, make these issues worse over time.
If you want to continue drinking coffee then…
- Drink it when you are about to do something physical, for example exercise!
- Reduce your intake – a single shot of coffee from your local cafe contains about 100mg of caffeine. The average person can tolerate about 60mg of caffeine per day. Opt for a ‘weak’ (½ shot) coffee or a black tea instead;
- Drink it within the first 6 hours of your day, and avoid thereafter;
- Replace your first or second coffee with a cup of tea;
- For every caffeinated beverage you drink, drink at least one glass of water.