The Truth About How Caffeine Works - Why You Should Slow Down Or Quit

by Jerrico_Usher

In This Article, You Will Learn The Real Truth About Caffeine, Not What You've Been Misled To Think

"The hell you say? Give up coffee? Have you gone mad?" - Stewie, Family guy

For years coffee, energy drinks, energy shots, and anything else containing caffeine have been hailed as the mighty go to source of energy and stamina. A mere 30 mg of caffeine (about one cup), your focus improves drastically, energy is abound, and you start getting things done.

As a legal substance, and the declaration that this is absolutely safe (by the companies that sell it not the health professionals), even in high doses, people have been power slamming the stuff all day long as the cure for fatigue, improved memory, and a catch-all way to wake up. Even doctors drink the stuff, so it must be ok right? Well, yes, and no.

Welcome! Got Your Coffee? Energy Drink?

Your Going To Need It To Power Through This Comprehensive Read!

Welcome to another fun filled, informative, and entertainingly fascinating (at least that's my goal) article! Everything you could want to know about caffeine should be in there. Comments are welcome, and if I'm incorrect about something and you know better than me, by all means, let me know!

This is a pulling of my research and articulation of what I understand to be the answers to questions that have been burning my brain and many others I know- and now, here the answers are. Enjoy!

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Introduction

Continued...

In this article I'm going to cover what caffeine is, how it's typically viewed, and the various forms available.

Next I'll give you a reality check and tell you what the marketing isn't, what the health professionals are trying to, then I'll walk you through how your body "processes" it.

I'll cover the active "mechanisms" of caffeine and what you really should pay very close attention to.

I'll touch on the safety hazards now and later that you'll suffer or have suffered, why you get headaches, why you crash, what's really going on in your body, why you can drink 2 cups but the third doesn't do anything.

By the end of this article you may continue to drink coffee/caffeine (I know I still do) BUT you'll lose the ignorance of not knowing all the details.

You'll at least know what's happening, how to counter side effects, how to avoid crashing (while still drinking coffee) but maintain your energy rush, and much much more.

 

 

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I'm going to go further into caffeine than just what it is, how the molecule terrorizes your adenosine receptors and feel good chemicals for a short lived but devastating "high", and go into other topics related such as how caffeine is the worlds first smart drug (and why). There will be some lead in back story then I'll bomb you with the facts succinctly near the end.

If you have no clue how caffeine works other than "I drink it I feel good, energetic, focused, then crash and have to drink some more!" and you want to know why you crash, why you only crash sometimes and others your fine, and all the questions you could have... strap in, take that sip of your energy drink (and some water) and prepare to be blown away by some answers.

What Do You Know About Caffeine?

Just How Much Caffeine Do You Consume Daily?

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She Looked So Awake So Alive Was it Caffeine or Botox
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The caffeine industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and there is no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.

Regardless of how many diet books, health articles, and authorities in the medical industry have warned people that it's not good for you to consume it in high consistent quantities or over too long a time period we're inundated with too much (pro consumption) marketing to believe it!

It's not exactly dangerous in smaller moderate doses, even the docs admit that, but we all know that this isn't how people drink or eat it (or chew it in caffeinated gum?).

It seems the industry is growing to the point where you can get this substance in just about everything now- even in a super concentrated pill form. 7-11 even gives you free "shots" of caffeine with their coffee.

This is a small creamer like shot that people often grab 3 or 4 extra (even though it warns not to consume more than 2 in any 24 hour period) to add to their coffee, or to shoot like energy shots without the B vitamins! (each one contains twice the caffeine as a 5 hour energy shot (or 1.00 equivalent at the dollar stores).

Why chug a condensed and powerful (and nasty tasting) energy drink when you can get your fix in all day through a variety of products?

You can buy your morning coffee, grab a pack of caffeinated gum, a couple of those suckers, hard candies, even caffeinated jelly beans with small amounts of caffeine in it. I'm just waiting to see the patch- then, I'll really start to worry!

What's next? Caffeinated sunscreen?

Ehum, I digress...

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The Average "Safe" Routine, Just Doesn't Continue To Work...

... If it did we'd definately not keep adding more coffees, energy shots, or gum to our daily routine!

The average cup of coffee in the morning, is fine, but after a week or two, it simply isn't going to wake you up the way you want it to.

Sure you like the taste, but let's be real-

Your in it for the power not the flavor.

If anything, the flavor is just a reminder of the things to come, am I right?

If the flavor was the reason we wanted energy drinks they'd taste better.

 

(although I admit 7-11 makes a mean espresso (flavored/gourmet coffee) that has a taste that I'd drink even if there wasn't caffeine in it- for 1.80 (1.00 if you bring your own cup or bring the same cup back in for a refill!)

 

The average energy drink contains 30 milligrams of caffeine PER SERVING, and is 2-4 servings per can on average (small can).

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Most people go for the bigger can, after all, we have to get through an ENTIRE day don't we?

That can has 30 mg per serving x 3 servings. If you go for the "BFC" (Big F* Can) Monster puts out, there's 6 servings per can.

(I think they may have discontinued this as someone likely chimed in about being offended by the term BFC lol, but wow that was a great name!)

The other way people go is to get 2-3 of the 3 serving (24 fl. oz) cans and slam one every 3-4 hours when the "effect" wears off and that infamous caffeine crash accompanied by a headache happens.

Caffeine Headache
Caffeine Headache

Don't you wonder how and why that happens?

A headache isn't the body whining, it's the body's cry for help- the alarm that something is wrong, right?

Let's get into that next, but first let's talk about the start to finish path caffeine takes and what exactly it's doing to rob peter to pay paul- so to speak, in your body.

You see, caffeine is a chemical Robin Hood of a sort and this chemical is actually causing all kinds of havoc in your body, but worse, it's hacking into your body's security system and... well I won't give away the ending just yet.

------------------------------- The Elephant In The Room -------------------------------

The Elephant here reminds me of what caffeine does to the body- dehydration, dried out neurotransmitters, tired,heavy feeling
The Elephant here reminds me of what caffeine does to the body- dehydration, dried out neurotransmitters, tired,heavy feeling

I've drank coffee and caffeine products for years, my parents drink coffee all day everyday, and nothing has happened to them? Right? This is what you hear all the time, isn't it?

My Parents Bob and Linda

What you may not know is that my mother's thyroid is shot, she had a difficult time getting energized ALL THE TIME, and my dad, he's worse off. She still believes coffee is a required part of any day.

These may be unrelated incidents but maybe not completely (if anything a tiny part of a synergy of bad habits). But one thing that startled me was that my dad can drink coffee all day, and even have a cup just before retiring to bed- it won't keep him up, but ironically it wakes him up in the morning! My mom can't drink coffee before bed- it will keep her up. These lead, in part, to my ambition to learn more and write this.

The truth about caffeine may shock you. If your addicted to the stuff, don't worry, you don't have to give it up completely- but you may want to slow down a bit and take a few precautions to save yourself from:

  • Damaging your health
  • A bad crash
  • Exhaustion
  • Dehydration
  • Focus then severe inability to focus
  • Depression (you may be shocked why coffee a stimulant, could turn on you and force you into a depression like state of mind)

Since talking to my mom about what your about to read, she's been limiting her coffee/caffeine intake to one cup a day in the morning- it's a mental addiction more than a physical one for her. I suspect my dad's "wake up" component of coffee is just a mental filter, a placebo effect if you will.

There is a way to drink coffee with relative safety if you have a little discipline and know what I'm about to share below. What I learned changed how I viewed caffeine and how I "use" it in my day. It's affected my taking days off on purpose from ingesting it, and what I do to support my body from it's tierany.

Sorry for the long intro, but trust me it will help ease you into the raw technical data below :). I want you to know exactly where I, the writer of said article, am coming from so you can relate (or not relate).


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hailey, My God-Daughter, LOVE this picture from daycare!

(I raised her from birth in a previous relationship 13 years ago (until she as about 9 but she's still in my life she lives in Sacramento Ca  I live in Bend OR, she's 5 here)

 

Once you learn how it all works, you'll be better prepared to make your own decisions and at the very least you'll know what your doing to your body and can make a more informed decision- not a brain dead following of what the 5 hour energy drink commercials are telling you to believe.

If you think "drink it everyday" their ridiculously misleading slogan is something you should do- you may think differently in a moment. If you drink even one of these every day you better start treating it like alcohol and drink 8 oz of water a minimum of 4 times during the day (if you drink the correct amount of water anyway your fine).

Caffeine Is The Original Smart Drug

Prepare To Learn How This Elusive "Smart Drug" Works

I'm going to dive into a new area for many people but a subject that's been around since the early 60's- Smart Drugs. I won't go into detail on this as I've written an entire series covering this in escrutiating detail (coming soon), but I want to give you insight as to how "caffeine" is or relates to a smart drug as labeled by the masses.

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DISCLAIMER:

I want to make it clear the following is ONLY what I've read and learned about online and carries no "factual" premise, (it may very well be facts but take them as "entertainment value" at best as I'm no doctor, nutritionist, or expert in any capacity on drugs.

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Although technically it's likely the world's first "smart drug" but only (modern-ly) borderlines that due to how it's potentially harmful.

Smart drugs, also known as "Nootropics" are labeled as such only with the oath - "do no harm, increase intelligence or the facility to increase intelligence. Something can be called a nootropic if i.e. it is a component in enhancing memory (safely) which helps intelligence.

Noops only enhance the body without affecting the central nervous system directly. Unlike stimulants stimulants that give you a benefit but you pay for that benefit negatively, nootropics are akin to a multivitamin in safety and enhancement to your body, but are MUCH more powerful and often targeted specifically at improving the brain and enhancing your ability to repair the body and some really make you "limitless" in feeling powerful.

Many beneficial "nutriceuticals that are not categorized as "Nootropic" give benefits but (potentially and more likely than not with heavy or more than moderate use) cause harm so they are not allowed the "distinction" of "nootropics" but still can be called smart drugs a blanket name for ALL nootropics, declassified nootropics (found harmful not 100% healthy), and cognition enhancers that are not safe enough to be considered nootropics

These still do enhance intelligence (cognition) directly or indirectly, and in moderation are safe, but they just have the potential to harm. To put it simply, if it's a true nootropic, you can consume it like candy with no health concerns as the mechanisms in a true nootropic are supposed to be "health enhancing" as well as "cognitive benefits".

This isn't to say there aren't consequences like over stimulation, illness like a headache or belly ache- I  mean if you ate too many apples you'd get sick wouldn't you? It's all about limitations of your personal tolerances.

One example is (Google it) Adrafinil, because it definitely gives you a powerful coffee "buzz", focus, and a "dopamine" (indirectly affecting the dopamine production centers of the brain) like effect but it taxes the liver too much to be as "safe as coffee" or a replacement). This is being marketed in France (where you have to get it most of the time other than eBay which is just people who got it from France and are repackaging it and tripling the actual cost) as a coffee alternative and stimulant- even though it chemically isn't a stimulant.

Coffee does stimulate dopamine release (what gives you the "coffee high feeling not the energy or seemingly-limitless focus") and dopamine is in charge in part of muscles, motivation centers (reward pathways), and works in conjunction with Serotonin which is the body's regulatory "Vice president" molecule, but it does this (dopamine stimulation) directly which is not as safe as "indirectly"- but the caffeine mechanisms depend far more on how Androsine receptors are effected than on the dopamine fix. (more on this further down).

Because of how caffeine is consumed (quantity) and how it works in your brain, even in small doses, it's a declassified nootropic- meaning it's a smart drug but doesn't carry the pedigree or distinction of a safe nootropic.

An example of a nootropic that is safe is Piracetam- you could take incredibly high doses of this magic stuff and although you may start thinking so fast it makes your head hurt, it is not toxic... and high doses are not fun at all- nor is high doses of coffee for that matter.

Another way to say it is a nootropic works to repair the damaged parts of your neurons, and other things so when and if you stop taking them there is no physical withdraw, in fact since it's repairing things, and that's what's creating the effect (that and it's expediting missing functions like not having enough serotonin (but naturally not like prescription drugs do it) or clearing the "fat" from your brain cells- it has a cumulative effect of making you healthier so at some point you don't need to keep taking it.

Smart drugs like caffeine tend to leave you withdrawn and more so from the mental addiction of energy and unlimited feelings of well being that are simply not natural.

Adrafinil/Modafinil Is NOT a Safe Alternative To Coffee/Caffeine

What's scary is that some online retailers are spouting about Adrafinil/Modafinil as the "replacement for coffee" but in reality you're FAR safer drinking coffee- at least coffee doesn't need to overtax your liver to be effective!

Modafinil STILL taxes the liver, just not as harshly (in super low doses i.e. 30 mg a day max and only a few days/temporary use when you need an academic "boost" i.e. studying for a test as one benefit is also the enhancement of memory retention facilities in the brain.

That's like punching yourself in the groin in exchange for some energy.  If that worked, (roll with the metaphor with me) the first time you did it you may recoup without damaging permanently your ability to reproduce, but imagine if you did this every day, just one good punch- in a weeks time or slightly more, you would damage your body, and possibly would become "sterile"!

 

The Scary Fact About Adrafinil vs. It's prescription counterpart Modafinil

 

Adrafinil is the non prescription over the counter version of Modafinil, ironically Modafinil doesn't tax the liver and is safer but the one that's not "regulated" is the dangerous one! Adrafinil's danger lies in how it uses the liver to convert certain chemicals into Modafinil- Modafinil being the end result of Adrafinil after the liver painstakingly uses up enzymes to do this, doesn't tax the liver (as hard core) and thus is safer and can be considered (barely) a smart drug but NOT a nootropic as it's just not a safe way to go in the long run or even short, but I'd still classify it as non nootropic because it can still be harmful if taken regularly or in high doses.

Caffeine if used properly and you adhere to specific physical parameters and take specific precautions

is a brilliant and safe nootropic

Unfortunately since most people abuse it and take 1 or less of the 5 or more precautions, converts a smart drug into a "dumbing down" drug.

Meaning it is more harmful than helpful (after a certain threshold), more focus robbing than focus/stamina enhancing, and it can damage the body more than enhance it, and most importantly- it doesn't in any way enhance health in fact it's damaging to certain sensitive systems.

In a way I see it mainly as a cog in a machine, a single component if used correctly that can act as "jumper cables" to other more beneficial noops (term for nootropics used most commonly- slang- in forums).

I wrote an entire series that could effectively be a full size (but small) book (over 18k words) on nootropics and humorously entitled "How To Be Limitless Now" based on the movie Limitless, but given a reality check that the way the movie portrayed it is actually quite ludicrous, but here is how you can actually reach that level without harming your body.

so much I didn't know it makes my head hurt!
Woman Clutching Her Head in Pain, With Both Hands
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Caffeine Headache

I'll discuss what caffeine does in the brain, and exactly how it gives you all that energy and stamina. But also be prepared to be shocked to find out that this energy doesn't just "generate" out of nowhere- it comes at a price I call "the butterfly effect" or "the genie wish effect", and I don't mean at the expense of a crash later.

That headache you get the next day before consuming a new dose of caffeine is partially dehydration (common reason people believe they get it) likely as many of us caffeine addicts don't drink water other than what's left of it in other drinks, but it's also due to many other factors of your body/brain "rebooting" into normal mode after a trauma- yes, trauma...
I'll explain in a minute.

I'll explain why that crash happens and why that's no ordinary loss of energy, but rather your body losing resources, desperate to get them back, overzealous resources doing what you want them to do but bombarding you to the point of over stimulation and emptying your resources like you just ran out all your energy- because you did.

I'll also explain how it damages the feel good chemicals you so desperately crave, rather the production factories that create them.

I've been studying the effects of many things in my diet and the brain itself and lately have discovered some powerful alternatives to coffee and cognitive enhancers (smart drugs or neutraceuticals- the vitamins vitamin).

Here I'll only discuss mainly the caffeine effect.

Drunken Frog in Empty Martini Glass
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Hangover Cures
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Caffeine Can Take On Alcohol-like Side Effects

Diuretic; Dehydrator, interruption of Chemicals You NEED

The Funny Way This Article Came To Life:

(someone asked me a question about alcohol, the hangover, and is it true that vitamin B-1 and Coca Cola Is The Magic Cure?)

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I researched this and discovered that yes, alcohol burns up your B-1 supply and so the next day your headache is IN PART a B-1 deficiency. B-1 is an important vitamin in your body. The massive part of your headache is truly dehydration. The body has a funny way of distributing water. The head containing the brain and CEO of your body's "Corporation" is actually the last to receive any water in your body.

The brain uses the most water (proportionate) but if the "innards" the guts, the heart, liver, etc... are dehydrated because your alcohol (a diuretic as well as coffee is), forced most of the water out and you didn't replenish it- they get first dibs.

The brain gets "what's left". So what is happening is your dehydration is literally shrinking your brain mass (not extremely but enough that those nerve endings attached between the brain and scull get pulled on- thus the deep sensitivity to sound and vision.

The eyeballs are actually connected physically and directly to the brain and thus are the only protruding part of your brain you can actually see- when the brain shrinks due to lack of hydration, it also pulls on the eyeballs- thus the eyeball headache. Although alcohol can cause this- so can coffee!

So between B-1 deficiency and water deficiency- and some other chemical reactions in the liver when you drink, the hangover ensues. The B-1 does help with the headache but only if you also drink a couple of glasses of water.

The coca cola it seems is just caffeine which helps you to focus and energize you so you can crawl to your desk at work.

Cure? Not likely, as until your body is hydrated and those bad chemicals the liver creates when alcohol is converted in the liver dissipated (the way to do this faster is to "flush them out" by drinking a ton of water, until then you won't feel better. Water is the magic cure for most of it for the aforementioned reasons.

Caffeine can temporarily give you clarity but it will actually dehydrate you further and make your headache much worse- unless you slam a ton of water behind it, then since you will be hydrated if you drink water, it will actually help a little, but keep hitting that water as caffeine is going to flush that water you just put in out likely 50+% within an hour...

Back to Caffeine... The Illusion Of Caffeine Benefits

You drink a few cups of coffee or an energy drink (or both?). You feel alert and can think faster- but in reality not clearer- it's an illusion propagated by your own ability to rationalize "if I can think faster and process things (multitask) easily- I'm thinking better and get more done".

The fact is you DO get more done and because we all have basic multitasking skills that are hindered when we feel tired, the amped up brain power is a result of simply being able to function without sleepiness- but don't mistake this for enhanced ability- just lacking the negative effects of being tired or not having energy to do simple things efficiently. It's incredible how much being tired or feeling lazy hinders what we have all the capacity to do but none of the ambition to push through this phase. Being tired also means your resolve is often hindered.

Our mind rationalizes "oh man this is like work, I don't like having to work, I want things to just happen." So you pop that energy shot and rationalize that THIS is like a magic pill, but in reality it's just removing the body's breaking system- there for your protection.

Since it also slows production and transmission of the acytocholine receptors laced throughout every neuron that makes thinking efficient (this is a sort of "cell phone" haha, pun intended)- it's a neurotransmitter that facilitates nerve/neuron communication), memory retention and recall efficiency (those are like the actual data of the phone call), and what makes one person more adept at recall and photographic memory- than another- coffee slowly starts to dumb you down.

Caffeine actually hinders a chemical you need for a lot of reasons called Inositol. If you look at the back of your energy drink can at the ingredients, you'll notice there are a plethora of things in it.

The company that makes energy drinks actually has countermeasures to the things in the energy drink that harm you. It doesn't really work, but to some degree it may.

The vitamin B's are actually the best part as your body loves them. But the caffeine and B vitamins really amp you up in different ways, leading to burning off inositol and even the acetacholine that your brain NEEDS to think clearly, articulate, and pull all that information into a stream of consciousnesses.

Inositol actually helps block the caffeine from burning off your acetacholine. If you think too much or too hard for too long or try to learn too much, you end up buring out your acetacholine transmitters, like breaking the antenna on  the old school cell phones. You can take choline supplements or foods containing it (not fast enough though), to counter this effect. I take choline with a 50/50 blend of inositol and choline.

This helps counter the destructive effects of caffeine. What happens in both situations (drinking a lot of caffeine and thinking too hard) is you burn out your acetacholine to the point where your brain can't function to think clearly- worse you get a headache.

This headache is the result of your neurons actually cannibalizing the protective coating around other neurons to use as building blocks for producing more acetacholine. This kills adjacent neurons eventually and that's the headache your feeling- your brain eating itself to make more acetacholine!

If you plan to rack your brain hard studying or drinking a lot of caffeine- get some inositol and to be safe some choline too (choline bitrate is cheap and can be found at whole foods supermarket and other health stores).

Due to the dangers of inositol and acetacholine depletion they include inositol in there energy drinks to replenish it (hopefully), taurine is like gaba in function, it calms your nerves- people actually take this to help them relieve anxiety and to help them relax enough to pass out. The massive energy burst you get would be incredibly uncomfortable without taurine there to balance energy with relaxation...

This is included to counter the "Jitters" you get from the active ingredients. So there are active and reactive (counter measures) ingredients in there- coffee- unfortunately has no countermeasures so too much and jitters, overzealous energy you can't control (freaking out?), and inability to focus because your mind won't stop firing neurons by the boat load- ensues.

That's just the surface reactions, let's dive into the problem areas next:

The Crash Is A Reaction Of Exhausting ALL of Your Resources

(and dehydration only antagonizes the "bruise")

The crash is based on the overproduction of the sleep chemical adenosine  (a reactive fight or flight response of the CNS (central nervous system).

Let's back up a step.

Adenosine is a chemical your CNS uses to regulate your body's many systems. It regulates your body in a calculated fashion like a CEO of a company would control chaos in the firm by creating all kinds of rules and reasons to invoke situations to control and maintain peace. The body has MANY systems in play all the time. When you run too fast the body can become dehydrated, muscles over-exerted, over production of chemicals like adrenalin, cortisol (stress hormone) and many others.

Your brain (which contrary to popular belief, is not just in your head- but runs the length of about half way down your back where neurons are firing all the time) also collectively called the central nervous system (CNS is at it's root the synergy of all your neurons in your head (brain) and down your spine). The "nerves" or "nervous" system is firing neurons basically (I'm oversimplifying it) all the time.

In the CNS there are billions of receptors that host a specific chemical molecule called adenosine . What the body does is produce this molecule and the CNS plugs it in when needed as a sort of "breaking system". If the brain detects, for example, that the body is going into a red-line state and may crash from exhaustion- it will plug the adenosine into the appropriate receptors which only accept it's shaped molecule (lock and key like mechanism). No other molecules will plug in there just like nobody without the key to your front door can get into a locked door.

So this is your body's security, or protective system.

Here's where it gets interesting...

The caffeine molecule is ingeniously shaped almost identical to the adenosine molecule

Close enough to actually hijack the receptor if it can beat the adenosine molecule to it. Since generally we're tired when we wake up in the morning and this isn't due to adenosine stimulation (stimulating the breaks), those receptors may be out in the open and not in use!

Drinking caffeine will actually perpetrate as an adenosine molecule and snap into those receptors so the body can't put the breaks on thus you don't really wake up- you just don't slow down when you get moving. Caffeine doesn't do anything if you don't move, think, or something as the effect is not actually stimulatory in the sense you think- it's like if a bunch of kids were camping in the woods and the camp counselor was keeping them from doing what they wanted to do (play), and they tied up the counselor- they could then run around like crazy and nothing would stop them!

Although the caffeine molecule can sit in the receptor and block it from adenosine from activating it  (like putting a board under your break peddle so the break couldn't slow the car down after you accelerated) it is actually dormant in there.

The adenosine activates, thus stimulating the receptor and causing a counter reaction in a body breaking system (stopping production of adrenal chemicals and other things that force you to slow down and run out of gas, including dopamine which is one of the things that regulate muscle energy activation). This effectively applies the breaks. This is happening all the time, and they unplug too when not needed which takes the hand off the parking break so to speak. It also stops the brain from producing toxic levels of chemicals that feel good unless over done... too much serotonin, for example can cause toxic shock syndrome which can actually kill you.

What caffeine does is infiltrates the receptor but doesn't stimulate it at all- it's merely blocking it from use thus with enough caffeine in there you can effectively block enough of these receptors that adenosine molecules show up to work but their desk is taken over- so if you start running, the body produces adrenalin, but nothing is regulating it, it's flowing full force with no breaks- like a run away car with no driver. You can, of course "choose" not to overexert yourself but whose going to do that? (besides me)

What the body does to compensate, as it still gets the signals to put on the breaks- regardless of what "you want" it to do, is thinking that hmm, maybe there are just not enough adenosine molecules to get the job done, maybe the MAOI (enzymes that break these chemicals down like chemical scissors to regulate how much is present at any given time- again to avoid toxicity) - so it produces MORE, much more and it keeps doing that until it gets some clue that enough are deployed or worse runs out of resources to produce more without damaging the body!

Meanwhile, your rushing around stealing all that unbridled energy and using it to focus, move around, and literally burning up your body's preciously balanced supply of dopamine, serotonin, adrenalin, and many others. What's happening in a nutshell is your rationing system just got hijacked and all the food and drink is being used up- when it's gone, it's gone, the body will eventually make more but it takes:

1. nutrition- more healthy fortified nutritional foods or supplements, building blocks to make more

2. down time, once you run out of all your allocated chemicals for the day- it may take another day to create more and that's only if your eating the right foods- most supplements won't get to your body unless they are accompanied by nutritious foods that allow them to ride on the back of the propagator nutrients in fruits and vegetables- the one thing missing from supplements is the things that help your body absorb them efficiently.

Chances are your eating a donuts and greasy pizza, or something else prepackaged and chalked full of preservatives and virtually NO nutrition value so you will crash hard. The more nutritious foods you consume the day before and that day, the more energy-rush you'll get- as that's the "Real" source of your power and focus, energy etc... caffeine just blocks the breaks. So this means eat plenty of fruits and veggie platters when you consume energy drinks and your body can recoup and possibly even save you from a crash!

But it gets worse...

Back to the Adenosine and Crash Mechanics

Remember the body producing all those "extra" adenosine molecules? Well they aren't just flushed out if they aren't used. They hang out and wait out the caffeine molecules deterioration which typically takes 5-6 hours (hence 5 hour energy drinks name). When the caffeine molecules deteriorate they fall out and enzymes break them up and flush them out of your body through the blood stream.

As they start to deteriorate and fall out, the adenosine molecules are quick to plug into the hole so other caffeine molecules don't plug in (but mainly because it's their nature- their life's mission). At some point there are going to be a lot of these falling out and adenosine plugging in, but since there are SO MANY extra adenosine molecules to plug in, they start to overstimulate your CNS (jitters).

Since the caffeine wasn't an active molecule the receptor, which is basically a nerve ending, becomes used to not being stimulated. Imagine if you were to slowly tap on your arm then progressively tapping harder and harder- you'd build a tolerance for the pain and your nerves would adjust. If, however, you were to start out with a hard tap, this would hurt and likely leave a lasting painful "bruise" of a sort. If you kept going without building tolerance this would really start to hurt.

This is exactly what's happening. The adenosine molecules are plugging in and activating/stimulating that "nerve" without time to build up tolerance and since the body is in def con 1 at the time the adenosine needs to hit the breaks and crash you for your own good- to stop you from damaging yourself further!

This is the crash AND the headache you get from caffeine. The irony is the caffeine just antagonized the effect- it's actually the adenosine that's causing the headache- and it was built by your body and nutrition- not caffeine. Sounds a bit like an oxymoron effect doesn't it?

I'm not done. There is collateral damage as well.

As if this all wasn't enough, there is the issue with all the carnage you left in your energetic wake. All the while your pushing yourself beyond your own limitations (based on available nutrition, hydration etc...) and the lack of "supervision" of your neurotransmitters, you burned them all out. Many, however couldn't plug in fast enough and were destroyed. The body, realizing that producing them was only going to lead to depletion faster than the body could create more, goes into hibernation mode and slows to a crawl the production also to protect you from yourself.

This means available dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins are being recalled and locked up. If this happens too much as is the case with power slamming energy shots, drinks, candy all day and every waking moment to get more energy.

The new coffee, for example after your energy effect has diminished, but you haven't yet depleted all your chemicals- just forced them into lock-down.

This also has the side effect of the body not producing more, it may need those "building blocks" your food gave it to keep you alive so no more serotonin, dopamine, and so on. So your left with ONLY what was already created before, and if you keep going like you are, you will use up your entire supply.

Drinking that next energy drink, coffee, etc... has the effect of forcing out those neurotransmitters, those feel good chemicals like a jail break- and you end up using them up thus coffee stops working because you have no resources to use to create energy, heightened feelings of well being, and even your adrenalin gets used all up.

That's when you really crash hard- you basically used up your entire supply for the day in a few hours and are now useless- and drinking more coffee won't do anything any more than trying to gamble at the casino after blowing all your money and having no  more in the bank will allow you to continue to play.

Now your depleted (and likely starving), your head is killing you, and you feel like absolute dung.

The second fold I mentioned above is you can't function due to lack of proper regulation transmitters (neuro-transmitters), so your double kicked in the groin by your body for bringing your jerk friends over to annoy your "roommates" cells and for raiding your fridge (neurotransmitters/nutrients), getting high (blocking the adenosine receptors blocks the body from hitting the breaks thus not maintaining that "energy" you feel when you drink coffee... and those jerks left a mess behind (you have to pick up the pieces after a caffeine rush).

The addiction from caffeine starts out as a mental problem. You rationalize that your tired, really tired, so you need more caffeine. You drink more and the energy returns, but this is at the same expense but worse- as the first round.

The mental addiction is of the "feeling of power and motivation" you felt- you got high on your body's chemicals and used them up- now you have nothing to "carry you" through the day and now must rest, eat nutritious foods to replenish the building blocks and return to normal. Was it worth it?

Meanwhile your neurotransmitters (call them your energy for this illustration) already being down regulated (so eating more nutrients replenishes them but the body refuses to create more due to the "law" passed by the congress of your receptors and does nothing but store them or you metabolize them out for life support functions like digestion).

The more you drink the deeper the down regulation thus the more drastic your weak, tired feeling.

Now what happens next is your on your 4th cup of coffee- and it's not working anymore. This is because the effects make use of the neurotransmitters themselves (directly and indirectly) and since each cup is down regulating the production, you have less and less "fuel" to fire up the body/brain.

Now your burning out your neurotransmitters like working at walmart on black friday with 2 employees in the electronics department when 10 would be required to handle the demand put on the department!

see where this is going?

Now this is just a day- take this on for several months- you start to realize coffee sucks, but worse you don't even realize it's pushing you into stupid-hood, making life harder to manage, and is the very culprit of many problems you blame elsewhere (overworked at your job, when really your not, your just finding it harder to cope and thus even a regular load of work seems impossible- now your calling your boss a slave laborer when it's in reality your bad habits that are deteriorating your ability to cope with just what's already expected of you- grumpiness ensues - and your blaming everything but the real gangster molecules responsible- caffeine.

Once your neurotransmitters are taxed to death you crash. Rebound headache makes things worse when you stop drinking coffee.

Since the caffeine molecules jacked the receptors AND DIDN'T activate them this is like a thousand people entering your job at the same time demanding your attention all at once and your too tired to deal with it. Patience is gone because patience is a result of efficiency, having enough feel good chemicals to counter stress!

One effect of the over production of adenosine molecules earlier is the brain tries to cope by creating or rather activating, more receptors in a desperate attempt to hit the breaks. Your body is a run away train and your doing it to yourself because you want that rush!

Your like a kid blowing his entire allowance on candy, then you eat it all at once and get sick and wonder what happened. Now when you crash you have an abundance of adenosine receptors and adenosine to fit into them and you get mob rushed.

Since adenosine molecules/receptors are actually designed to relax you and make you tired to stop you from overexertion, and you have more than your supposed to like feeding a Gremlin after midnight, this leads to extreme fatigue, like all the boards were removed and all the breaks on the train went down at once- as well as a mad headache from those under-stimulated receptors all being stimulated at once (the whole head headache and back ache is the result of this pounding). If you avoid caffeine, drink lots of water and wait it out, as painful as it is, the adenosine receptors will eventually down regulate (the CNS will turn them off and lock the doors so adenosine cannot plug in or bother you in those receptors- then you slowly reach homeostasis (balance) and feel better. The best way to relieve the pain is to relax, try not to think, move, or open your eyes if possible.

It's not a pain headache so much as an effect similar to spending all day in the sun, getting a horrible sunburn then someone constantly slapping you on the back, giving you bear hugs- essentially stimulating those nerve endings- but in your brain.

Doesn't this make you want to sip that coffee next to you?

New Hope - The Precautions and Post Crash Fixes

The Cure To Crashes And Burnouts

Now that you know how it all happens, what causes the crash, the energy loss, fatigue, mad headache (migraine?), you can fix it or even prevent it by thinking ahead.

Much like before you drink yourself into embarrassment with alcohol you can think ahead and prep your body for the potential poisoning and dehydration by drinking water, lots of it, all day, eating a good hearty meal before drinking and during if you can, and taking B-1 throughout the night, and rationing a shot of tequila to a glass full of water, and drinking a glass of water every time you have to pee to replace what you just purged- there are similar ways to drink caffeine and help the body cope.

1. First, realize that the whole burn out is overexertion of resources

Cause And Effect- Control What You Do To Control How You Feel

If you just "use" the energy you feel with no responsibility to pace yourself- you deserve the pain you get.

That's cause and effect.

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The best thing to do is keep in mind that nothing is free in this world, not even seemingly effortless energy.  That energy is just your body pumping all it's chemicals. Just because you can use them all at once, doesn't mean you should.

You can actually use this ability to take more than your body normally allows you to in moderation.
I use it to maintain focus all day and although thinking more quickly does burn off chemicals like running around.

The fact is it doesn't burn them nearly as fast or overexert the entire body- thus you get that dopamine rush just thinking efficiently, and since your not physically busting a move all over the place dancing until you literally pass out from exhaustion- you can maintain a powerful cognitive effect much longer and get some work done.

You can utilize the energy to jump out of your chair and feel your muscles flex, but maintain a limited time of feeling that great runners high and rush of dopamine muscle power. In other words if you don't over do it you can get up without feeling like you have to carry your heavy body to lunch.
Moderation is the key...

If you do this not only will you enjoy the benefits of caffeine's feel good chemicals flowing in plenty- but you won't burn out your entire supply, so you'll entertain that feeling for many more hours and won't crash.

This is not to say staring at a computer screen for hours on end without getting up every hour, drinking water and things suggested here won't give you a headache- be smart and realize your eyes are muscles too and need a break.

May Your Body Be Hydrated

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2. Drink Plenty of Water And Limit Caffeine Intake

Keep it to 2 cups of coffee or ONE energy drink @ 24 oz max- per day!

Believe it or not, drinking water actually creates energy.

Water is the lubricant for your brains neurons firing.

You ever stop to think that neurons firing is a chemical but converted to chemical electrical power?

If you watched The Matrix, you know that the human body has the electricity of a car battery running through it all the time (unless you burn yourself out).

Electricity is highly conductive in water, thus drinking water adds conductivity to your neuro-firing-

Your thinking becomes incredibly efficient and besides the brain water flushes toxins out, acts as a catalyst for many of the biochemical movements, including production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in your body.

It cleans out the muck and lubricates every cell in your body.

Drink your energy drink slowly- sip it and drink water like you'd do for alcohol- a shot (1 oz energy drink) should be followed by a glass of water- the two actually potentate one another- water is not benign or inert

Iit's full of hydrogen and oxygen, especially oxygen 2 parts to one part hydrogen!

Water = Oxygen to your cells, lubricant to your neurons and much more I won't get into.

Think of your energy drink like you think of food on a healthy eating regimen- the old adage that you should eat 3 times a day (breakfast lunch and dinner) is outdated and based on a time when food was not riddled with preservatives, prepackaged non nutritious wanna be foods, and we weren't consuming more chemicals than window cleaner.

Eating 6 smaller meals keeps the metabolism running continuously because your eating every two hours... this means anything you eat is already processed faster and this gives you faster turnaround time on your food to nutrition extraction to using that food for energy, power, and brain power.

Instead of power slamming an energy drink- which is no good and gives you a stomach ache due to the high supplement content absorbing your needed stomach acids leaving the hardened remnants there to irritate your stomach lining... drink it in shots.

If you have to get a shot glass and measure each one, then follow it with a glass of water to wash that nasty taste down- and guarantee dehydration as well as brain power lubricant.



3. Eat Better Nutritious Foods

Ditch any prepackaged foods...

The only thing really determining "how much" energy you have to work with and thus how long you can go on your energy "fix" in moderation is how many building blocks your body has to work with to create new and improved chemicals.

You can't just eat healthy when you "drink" the caffeinated beverage, if your not eating healthy your energy is lost anyway due to the body being riddled with chemicals, preservatives, even remnants of pesticides that are now being grown into foods!

Eat organic foods, ditch the chemical foods- fake butter is one molecule from plastic, (country crock etc...).

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Take a moment and read up on nutrition- provide the body with the right foods and your energy may be unlimited WITHOUT caffeine!

The healthier you are, ironically, the more powerful caffeine "energy and feel good" effects are. The reason is simply- your body is functioning perfectly and efficiently and eating right keeps your building blocks stocked, and overstocked.

This is great because instead of requiring 2 cups of coffee or an energy drink to get a full day's power, a healthy body is very sensitive to the effects and works half as much to produce twice as much power, thinking power, energy, and more. It even utilizes water more effectively in conjunction with nutrients. In other words you won't have to put so much poisonous caffeine in your body and you'll feel better cleaner highs and are less likely to crash.

This is, of course if you follow the step about moderation of using your energy. If your healthy and eat great, you have more leeway in this department. If the body can efficiently rebuild neurotransmitters, and your drinking water you will stay hydrated and efficient.

The caffeine at that point will either not be necessary or it will be nothing more than the "jump start". Your body will keep it going long after the pep me up energy shot wears off. It's not meant to be a sustainable energy source, it's supposed to be a temporary crutch to get the ball rolling- then it's supposed to be stopped and the body should have what it needs to keep you going.

The more unhealthy you are the less energy drinks and coffee actually work on you. They do more harm than good- in fact at some point they will not do anything at all because an unhealthy body is like a packed freeway- things can't get to where they need to go fast enough to provide energy production.

4. Get Your Head Out Of The Gutter

Don't Believe The Marketing Hype!

I don't know where it started but this idea that people drink energy drinks as a shortcut is ridiculous. This is akin to starting your car every day with jumper cables and trying to make it to work on just the alternator power, then having to jump it when your ready to go somewhere else.

If your reading the "eat healthier" step and thinking, but I don't like eating healthy, I don't have the discipline, that's WHY I drink caffeinated beverages, free energy y0!

Well, sadly, this is marketing hype and if you want to see your health deteriorate further keep doing that. It amazes me that people get so unhealthy and dehydrated to the point where energy drinks simply do nothing but deteriorate their health- BUT THEY KEEP DRINKING THEM even with no actual quantifiable "benefit" other than rationalizing that they need it, it will work, it just isn't working right now or worse, I just need 6 more cans...

Then they feel so crappy and heavy from this that they go out and drink alcohol to feel that rush of serotonin/dopamine and further dehydrate themselves into a horrendous "I'll never drink again!" hangover!

Perhaps if this is you, you'll benefit from my next article on "Decoding The Hangover"... where I explain exactly what's going on there, the effects in the brain/body, the chemicals created when alcohol is converted in the liver and kidneys into a poisonouse substance that makes a hangover feel like a vacation, and all the steps you can take to avoid that too.

In conclusion...

I have a second article coming soon that will rehash a bit of this one's information but only so I can expand on some of the concepts more and cover the "smart drug" use of caffeine in a "stack" of other beneficial (more so than caffeine) nutraceuticals.

I hope you found this informative and if nothing else a great set of starting points for your own research project into caffeine.

Good Luck, Comments are appreciated!

 

Updated: 03/29/2012, Jerrico_Usher
 
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Jerrico_Usher on 04/07/2012

I think in the end, where caffeine is concerned it's all about balance, awareness of what's happening so you govern your use. You can very well drink a BFC of energy drink, pound 12 cups of coffee down in a day, or both, IF you take care of other business during, before, and after.

For example:

Hydration- if your going to pound down 12 cups of coffee and/or a BFC (60 oz) energy drink in a day, you will need to assure you are drinking 8 oz. water every 20 minutes :) +

Taurine, Inositol, Gatorade (electrolytes)- sufficient to the amounts your taking but don't overdo any of these- especially Gatorade which is essentially salt and flavor

Exercise- Although you don't want to overdo it, and you don't want to even do a hard workout, something besides sitting at the desk all day is necessary- that much caffeine and not moving around at least a little is not only dangerous, it's going to give you the meanest headache and crash you can imagine...

For a writer, for example, 2 cups of coffee or one small can of energy drink + 8 glasses (8oz each or apx 1.5 two liter bottle of water (tap water as you need the minerals most bottled water lacks) of water (if your 160 lbs or less, more if your heavier than 160 lbs) is sufficient (plus take some choline/inositol blend from whole foods to cover your thinking/overdrive use of acetacholine neurotransmitters (brains "cell phones") and the loss of inositol that caffeine causes).

Although high amounts of caffeine/coffee/energy drink no matter what you do is unhealthy and could cause a chain reaction of health issues (especially with the inositol drain), if you drink it in moderation and supply the body the needed manpower it needs to handle the stress, you will be fine. You'll find that doing all the extra things will mean requiring LESS caffeine to get the same and even more powerful result!

katiem2 on 04/07/2012

I'll be careful to keep the scales tipped in the favor of being well hydrated with pure clean water. All things in moderation.

Jerrico_Usher on 03/31/2012

Be careful some teas have caffeine in them! I used to NEVER drink water and have landed myself in the hospital several times for dehydration- it's not fun at all- I've since gone on a health kick and have this 3 liter bottle I fill with water when I wake up and have a daily goal to clear it by the end of the day- I don't always make it but the more I find myself hydrated the more intensely I realize I need water.

Another trick I do is, after reading that sitting at a desk 16 hours a day without getting up causes your muscles to atrophy, and drinking water also powers the brain like electricity, so I have a timer program I use that pops on the screen every hour with a fog horn (to remind me drink water, get up and exercise, usually cleaning the house, laundry etc...) or I'll get fog brained...

Some of those nutraceuticals are truly amazing, who'd of thought you could get high AND repair the body :) my morning routine is 5-HTP (serotonin infusion using a precursor that helps the body create it- energy/motivation depend on it), Amino acid multi- regardless of what I eat I could always use more amino, the building blocks of all feel good transmitters :) and most foods we have are "prepackaged" so...

L-phenylalanine (also found in energy drinks for "mood enhancement" it's a good building block for endorphins and dopamine, multivitamin (lately I've been taking Michelle's multi- that is one packed potent (prenatal) multivitamin! (and no estrogen like she tried to trick me about haha)...

With all these it's vital to keep hydrated or you get a headache due to the chemical traffic jam :)

then there's Noopept- gods gift to motivation and memory enhancement I only thought I'd see on Smallville meteor rock infected people :)

I'm wrote an entire series (about 8 articles) on this stuff- how did I get off topic?

lol, thanks for reading and commenting, it means a lot to me, your two comments (here and the rapport) really made my day!

Jerrico

katiem2 on 03/31/2012

I'm drinking a cup of coffee as I read this, with one half teaspoon extra virgin coconut oil added. I love coffee and yet I do limit myself to one to two cups a day, other wise I'm bouncing off the walls. I love green tea and drink it through out the day. I do balance my number of coffee and tea beverages to good clean pure water because dehydration is an issue I avoid at all cost. I must keep the ole brain watered so it flourishes and functions properly. This is a great and very attractive page, I've enjoyed it greatly. love the pic of your God daughter, very cute.

Jerrico_Usher on 03/30/2012

yep, moderation and taking steps to counter the damage (inositol with choline, water, and moderation of how much you consume are mine)... I wrote this while bouncing off the walls from a dollar tree energy shot haha, and chugging a 2 liter bottle of water... I was exhausted by the time I finished editing it though so the last few paragraphs may be less than punctual lol

Sheri_Oz on 03/30/2012

I was once majorly addicted to coffee and had a major caffeine crash as a result. For 15 years now I am slightly addicted to coffee (2 a day) and I cherish those 2 cups. The key is moderation. Read this with my morning coffee.

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