Caffeine is a very misunderstood supplement. When used correctly, it can be consumed to make improvements to your overall physique and performance. When used incorrectly however, it can do the opposite.
Caffeine is one of the best-known ingredients, found naturally in certain plants and a variety of sports supplements.
This seemingly simple substance plays a big role in the modern-day, fast-paced daily lifestyle.
Studies in adults show that more than 85% of adults in the U.S. regularly consume caffeine in one form or another, with the average daily intake being about 180 mg/day (Roughly the amount in two cups of coffee). 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5445139/
Now, caffeine can help you perform better mentally outside of the weightlifting room, but more importantly, it has been shown to have MASSIVE benefits on training output and weight loss. 2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11583104
That is of course because actively, caffeine is a strong stimulant and a thermogenic substance, making it one of the most reliable means of optimizing athletic performance and fat loss.
Thermogenesis is the scientific term for “Heat production” in an organism. In other words, it makes you burn more calories.
This borderline magical ingredient is used in many products, including but not limited to pre-workout boosters and thermogenic fat-burners.
When it comes to stimulating the body however, there are many questions that come to mind.
We have dedicated this article to shed light upon you and give you the latest, most up to date evidence-based recommendations regarding caffeine supplementation and its safety.
HOW CAFFEINE WORKS
As you already learned, caffeine is the most commonly used stimulant on this planet.
Its popularity is perhaps due to the wonderful effects we get from it, such as the uplifting feeling that gives us more mental and physical energy for hours, shortly after consumption.
However, understanding the ways in which a certain outer stimulus interacts with your body and creates the end result, is the best way to learn how to properly utilize it.
Now, though all you feel is the end result, there is a flurry of chemical reactions that lead to this wonderful, energetic feeling that you get.
When you are awake, there is a substance called “Adenosine” that slowly builds up in the brain.
This compound binds to receptors that slow down the brain activity which in turn makes you feel more tired and sleepy.
How caffeine affects the body is simple - It basically blocks off the adenosine receptors in the brain.
Furthermore, caffeine helps the body naturally secrete other stimulants, such as dopamine and glutamine.
Glutamine & Dopamine function in a variety of ways, including immunity promotion, insulin secretion, neurological activity and more importantly for glutamine, muscle protein synthesis.
And so, caffeine can not only boost your athletic performance, overall energy levels and pump in the gym, but it can also uplift your mood.
However, a sharp sword, used in the wrong ways too frequently, will become dull, so let's briefly mention caffeine tolerance.
Though the positive effects of caffeine certainly are amazing, they can quickly fade with excessive consumption, as the metaphor above implied.
Whether you are just a regular coffee drinker, or someone who is looking for the next best pre-workout supplement, you have to factor in the physiological adaptations that take place with frequent caffeine intake.
More specifically, this is the caffeine tolerance which the brain builds up, by creating more and more adenosine receptors over time.
A bigger number of receptors would in turn require more and more caffeine to get the same effect.
If you're reading this while sipping on another cup of coffee, you know what we're talking about.
Now, at the end of the article we will tell you EXACTLY how you can shatter that tolerance and make your body sensitive to caffeine again, but for now let's discuss its effects on weight loss and athletic performance.
CAFFEINE AND WEIGHT LOSS
Obesity and excess weight gain, in general, has turned into more of an image issue during the past decade.
The accumulation of inactive, fat tissue is one of the main reasons for the increasing rate of a variety of diseases.
Now, when it comes to shredding off that excess fluff, the basic principles and methods of fat loss will never change.
In order for you to burn fat, you must consume less energy (calories) than your body requires to maintain its weight. Check out our Calorie Calculator to get your exact calorie requirements, according to your goal.
Though what we stated above stands true, there are in fact certain sports supplements that may facilitate the fat burning processes.
More specifically, these supplements go under the category of "Thermogenic fat burners" and, you guessed it, one of their key ingredients is caffeine!
Without making any guesses, let's see what science has to say about caffeine and weight loss.
Effects of caffeine on weight loss - A meta analysis
In 2018, a large, systematic meta analysis was conducted to research the effects of caffeine on weight, body composition and body mass index (BMI).
The research used randomized controlled trials, which were tested with both plain coffee and isolated caffeine.
There was a multitude of researches done with 606 participants, over a period of 4-36 weeks, who took an average of 360 mg of caffeine per day.
Of course, the participants were divided into subgroups, depending on their average caloric intakes, gender and duration of their participation in the research.
The results from this meta analysis suggest that caffeine is indeed pro-weight loss, as it improves essentially every physical parameter tested for.
That is, total weight, BMI and body composition (fat to muscle ratio), with the end result depending on the amount of caffeine consumed.
Now, though caffeine is an amazing thermogenic that helps reduce body fat levels, it cannot burn fat all on its own.
What we mean to say here is that it will not compensate for the lack of a properly structured nutrition plan, that will put you in the caloric deficit, required to lose fat.
Nevertheless, we recommend having a caffeine-based product as a core in your weight loss and/or muscle gaining supplement stack, as it is a powerful addition to an already well-established diet and training plan.
By definition, a "supplement" is a thing added to something else, to enhance or complete it.
CAFFEINE AND ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
If you are a fan of coffee or caffeine supplements, you know it - Nothing gives a better stimulus before a workout, than a caffeine-based drink.
There are a multitude of studies that support the claim that caffeine increases alertness, focus, exercise performance and even mood.
This one ingredient allows you to undergo heavier and more prolonged workouts, which over time means a greater progressive overload, work volume and hence, gains.
Whether you supplement with caffeine or not, you know what it’s on about, so here is what the evidence has to say about caffeine and athletic performance:
- 1Caffeine stimulates the Central nervous system (CNS), to conduct better brain-to-muscle signals
- 2It reduces the feeling of muscle fatigue
- 3Delays mental exhaustion
- 4Improves both aerobic and anaerobic endurance (strength & cardio endurance)
- 5Massively improves power output
To put it simply, caffeine will massively impact your athletic performance, with zero side effects if used correctly.
It is a fact however that caffeine as an ingredient does have synergistic substances.
With the right combination of active substances, you will optimize the components of your body, that work and adapt during intense physical activity.
The Alpha Lion Superhuman Pre-workout is a balanced supplement, designed to enhance your energy, focus, strength and blood flow, without leading to a crash afterwards.
Now, using Superhuman can be viable for all kinds of athletes, but it needs to be used correctly in order to maximize the effects of it, without interrupting other important things like sleep.
For example, you need to consider the fact that blood caffeine levels peak about 90-120 minutes after intake, which is exactly why pre-workout supplements are taken 30-60 minutes before a workout.
A good note would also be that the body retains some of the caffeine for hours after intake, which is exactly why you should avoid pre-workout intake during the last 3-4 hours before sleep.
The Alpha Lion Superhuman pre-workout, can be used if:
- You are in a bulking period, when the goal is to exert the maximum amount of physical force
- You're losing fat, when the goal is to maintain workout performance
- The majority of your daily activity is mental (Smaller doses in this case)
When it comes to high-stimulant products, this begs the question - What is the safe dose and what are the safety recommendations to consider, when supplementing with high-stimulant products like the Superhuman Pre-workout?
Let's find out.
RECOMMENDED DAILY CAFFEINE INTAKE
If you have never supplemented with pre-workouts or rarely drink coffee, you can feel the effects of caffeine from as little as 50 mg of caffeine.
This is exactly why we always recommend assessing individual stimulant tolerance before moving on to the recommended pre-workout dosages.
Now, the safe caffeine dose generally depends on some individual factors.
For some people, a couple cups of coffee can lead to anxiety and hyperactivity, while other people can two-scoop the strongest preworkout on the market and get little to no effect.
So, again - Assess your tolerance and don’t take any recommendations for granted.
Now, as we mentioned, the optimal caffeine dose depends on the individual, so let’s discuss two groups - Healthy adults & People with past cardiovascular conditions.
In healthy individuals
There are a variety of government organizations that have a unanimous conclusion on the safe daily caffeine intake for healthy adults.
That is, a daily caffeine dose of up to 400 mg. 3https://www.eufic.org/en/whats-in-food/article/efsa-opinion-on-the-safety-of-caffeine , 4https://examine.com/nutrition/caffeine-consumption/
Again, this is the safest, recommended dose that would not cause any health concerns for HEALTHY individuals.
However, this amount may vary as per the individual’s tolerance to stimulants, meaning that the amount of 400 mg may be lower or higher, if the tolerance is lower or higher, respectively.
People with past cardiovascular conditions
It is proven that caffeine raises blood pressure for up to 4 hours after intake, which makes it unsuitable for use by people who have a history of high blood pressure and/or other cardiovascular issues.
It’s possible that for this group of people, caffeine intake may lead to complications, but it’s also possible that in moderation, it can have pleasant effects.
Overall, there is no firm evidence to support neither of those claims, which is why we would not recommend high stimulant products to this group of individuals.
HOW MUCH CAFFEINE IS TOO MUCH? TOXIC AND LETHAT DOSES
Now, as you should know, in big quantities, cure can be poison, and vice versa.
One of the main rules to life that apply to pretty much anything, is having it in balance and moderation.
As to caffeine, the toxic dose is about 7 mg per lb of bodyweight and the high-risk, lethal dose is 68 mg/kg.
And so, if you are at a weight of 180 lbs, you’d experience nasty side effects right at 1250 mg and may have fatal consequences if you consume about 12 grams of caffeine.
However, that should not be a concern, unless you are reckless.
If you remain in the safety recommendations of ~400 mg daily and are generally healthy, no adverse side effects will be experienced.
Caffeine overdose - The side effects
Though moderate amounts can massively improve your athletic performance and cause an array of benefits with no side effects, big amounts of caffeine can do just the opposite.
If you overdo caffeine, it may cause anxiety and can actually trigger the fight or flight stress response, due to the excessive levels of cortisol in the blood.
In case you experience unusual anxiety or panic, it is highly recommended that you reduce caffeine intake and avoid panicking excessively.
Keep in mind that if you intoxicate yourself, the body will do its best to get back to inner balance, so don’t stress it if you have not consumed a toxic/lethal dos
Caffeine tolerance breaks
As we mentioned early on, caffeine works by suppressing the adenosine receptors in the brain, which reduces drowsiness.
Furthermore, the boost of the central nervous system grants more alertness, focus and power output.
However, the body is an adaptation machine and as such, it gets used to regular stimulant intake.
The more stimulants we take and the more frequently we do so, the more adenosine receptors the brain creates.
More of these receptors require more of the active ingredient to achieve the same effect (more cups of coffee or a higher pre-workout dose) and at one point, the effect is just not the same anymore.
This is exactly why caffeine should be taken in a sort of cycle - Periods of progressively increasing consumption, followed by some time off.
The latter is also known as a "Tolerance break" and it can be implemented every 4-6 weeks, for a period of 14-30 days.
However, we would again recommend assessing individual tolerance, as some people may reap the full benefits of high caffeine doses for months, while others may adapt in just a couple of weeks.
Caffeine is the most commonly used stimulant that massively improves focus, energy levels, mood and overall performance.
This active ingredient is contained in a variety of plant products found naturally, but also, sports supplements that facilitate workout performance and weight loss.
The safe daily caffeine dose for healthy individuals is up to ~400mg, which can increase or decrease depending on individual tolerance - If you are more sensitive to caffeine, a lesser amount will do the job.
For people with past cardiovascular conditions or high blood pressure, caffeine intake is not recommended.
Ultimately, just like with everything else in life, stimulant intake must be in balance with the rest of your nutrition and taken in moderation.
Over time, caffeine tolerance may build up, which can be countered by implementing 14-30 days of stimulant tolerance breaks, where you drink no coffee, no stim-based pre-workouts and no energy drinks.
I’m Troy and I’m the creator of SuperHuman You and Co-Founder of Alpha Lion.
I created SuperHuman You to give you access to the most cutting edge information so you can reach your body goals as fast as humanly possible.
I’ve been obsessed with training since 2005 when I attended IMG Academy and got to train alongside NBA, NFL and Olympic Gold Medal winning athletes.
Now I’m on a mission to transform as many lives as possible and I’m so excited you found us!
I’ve been fortunate enough to train alongside and pick the brain of some of the best pro athletes, bodybuilders and trainers in the world – and this site represents over 15+ years of insights from the world’s best.
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