Wait what? Caffeine can make me fat? How?
Before we answer these questions, let’s begin with the basics.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant which temporarily blocks a chemical called adenosine, a brain sedative, from being released which makes you feel more awake. As it is in direct contact with the nervous system, caffeine tells the brain to burn fat. Additionally it triggers the release of epinephrine which boosts adrenaline which then increases the demand to burn fat cells. Caffeine appears to increase energy use even when you’re at rest. It stimulates thermogenesis which is a way our bodies create heat.
Hold on that’s all good news. It’s helping me BURN fat not MAKE me fat right?
Only if you use it correctly.
What’s the perfect amount of caffeine?
The FDA has determined 400mg of caffeine per day is safe to use for an adult. Higher doses of caffeine can lead to several side effects such as anxiety, dehydration, headaches or an uneven heart rate.
Alright so I’ll just have less than 400mg of caffeine and I’m good to go, right?
Not so fast little hopper. It depends on how you consume the caffeine.
What’s the best way to consume caffeine?
Green tea has about 50mg of caffeine per cup but is also packed with antioxidants which help keep cells healthy. It also provides less of a jitter effect what usually comes as a side effect with a cup of coffee.
A regular coffee provides you with about double the amount of caffeine a cup of green tea provides you with. Now we’re getting closer to the part that could possibly make you fat.
Unless you drink your coffee black you already make the first mistake by packing your energizer drink with loads of unnecessary hidden calories. Milk and creme? Maybe pastry with it? AHA. Here we go. A plain cup of coffee only contains 5 calories. The moment you add 1 teaspoon of sugar (16 calories), whipped creme (up to 100 calories) or milk (between 20-70 calories) you can easily bump up those numbers to 100-150 calories per cup. This does not include a little snack with the coffee which could add another 200-400 calories (pastry).
Although caffeine is a natural appetite suppressor, caffeine also alters your perceived sense of sweetness, which may result in craving sugary foods. To avoid sweet cravings have a protein rich snack with your coffee if you can’t have it without anything.
Ok I got it now. All I have to do is have less than 400mg of caffeine per day. Make sure not to add unnecessary calories and boom – I’m a fat burning machine!
Almost. You forgot about one thing. Caffeine tolerance.
What does caffeine tolerance mean?
Simply put the more caffeine you consume the higher the risk that your body starts producing more adenosine receptors which increases the chance of adenosine binding to those receptors. That means that the more caffeine you drink the less of an effect you’ll feel over time. You’ll need more and more caffeine to feel the same effect.
If you suddenly stop consuming caffeine you can also go through some withdrawal symptoms which include headaches, nausea or extreme fatigue. So what’s the best way to use it?
I recently tried a new way to use caffeine for myself. I limit myself to 200mg caffeine per day and I only take it right before a workout. I switch between weeks which means I have one week ON and one week OFF of caffeine. That way I never fully run into the problem of being dependent on the energizer. Additionally I switch between caffeine from my pre-workout, green tea and low calorie energy drinks.
I feel way better limiting my caffeine consumption rather than having it on a daily basis. I also believe that my metabolism is increased and I started losing weight faster. Keep in mind every person reacts different to caffeine and you have to figure out your perfect amount of caffeine for yourself.
Please make sure to use caffeine as a tool rather than daily booster when you’re tired. Caffeine has a bunch of positive effects and can help you achieve the physique you want way faster when used correctly.