Caffeine is the most commonly used legal stimulant in the world. Read here what the effects are and why coffee is so popular.

What is caffeine?

Caffeine (also called caffeine) is found in coffee beans, tea, mate guarana and cocoa beans. Caffeine as a pure substance is a white powder with a bitter taste. The substance has a stimulating effect and gives you more energy. Caffeine is often added to pre-workouts, fat burners or energy drinks.

Caffeine is found in plants such as the coffee bean and in tea (in the form of theine), but can also be synthesized. Both have a similar effect in the body.

Plants use caffeine as a defense mechanism
Fun fact: plants use caffeine as a defense mechanism. Caffeine paralyzes certain insects that try to eat the plant. Furthermore, the caffeine in fallen leaves prevents too many other plants from growing around the plant. In addition, caffeine has a pheromone function: in this way the plant attracts bees, which increases pollination.

The effect and effects of caffeine

You get caffeine through your diet, fluids or supplements and is then absorbed fairly quickly through your gastrointestinal tract. Caffeine is converted by the liver into three substances: paraxanthine, theophylline, and theobromine. All three of these substances have an effect on your brain.

The main effect is because caffeine takes the place of the adenosine receptors, giving adenosine less access to bind. Caffeine actually gets in the way. Due to this binding, different reactions take place in your body than normal.

For example, the neurotransmitters/hormones norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin are secreted in the brain. This may explain the possible effects on, for example, alertness, behavior and sleep.

How long does it take before you feel the effects of coffee and how long does it takes before it disappears?

Caffeine is absorbed through the stomach and often takes about 45 minutes to be fully absorbed. The values ​​of the substance in the blood peak approximately between 30-60 minutes after ingestion, depending on the individual’s predisposition and the type of product (liquid, capsule, chewing gum, etc). For people who drink coffee regularly, the effect will only take place around 45-60 minutes after ingestion.

The half-life of caffeine is between 2.7 and 9.9 hours. There is a nice difference in functioning between people due to physical and environmental factors such as pregnancy, obesity, contraception, smoking and height.

This means that for some it can take hours for the effect of caffeine to wear off. So keep in mind if you are sensitive to this product and it makes it more difficult to fall asleep. It is better not to have a caffeinated drink after 12 noon.

What are good decaffeinated alternatives?

Decaffeinated coffee, herbal teas and decaffeinated cola are good substitutes for people who prefer to consume less of this substance. A cup of decaffeinated coffee is not completely decaffeinated. This alternative contains an average of 3 milligrams of caffeine. Coffee substitutes, such as Bambu, contain no caffeine at all.

Is caffeine a diuretic?

Caffeine is not a diuretic. Drinks with caffeine simply supply fluid to the body. The remedy only ensures that the fluid leaves the body faster, because it stimulates the kidneys. For example, caffeine ensures that you have to go to the toilet earlier. So no more fluid leaves the body.

Is caffeine a fat burner?

Yes, caffeine is a very mild fat burner. However, the substance is often promoted as a very effective fat burner. The two main reasons are: Increased combustion due to higher body heat:

  • The higher your body temperature, the more calories your body burns.
  • Caffeine release seems to increase the use of fatty acids in the body, so that they are used more as an energy source.

In addition, there is reason to believe that caffeine has a positive influence on protein synthesis in muscle cells. Is Caffeine The Way To Lose Your Pounds? No, it might help a little bit. But you should not expect miracles.

A 2018 meta-analysis provides support that caffeine may have a stimulant effect on fat burning. However, no firm conclusions can be drawn from this, because the research is of low quality. In addition, burning and losing weight is much more about drawing up a good plan with sufficient exercise and adjusting your eating habits. You can read how to do this in a healthy way in this extensive article about losing weight.

Sports performance and caffeine

The effect of the substance differs for strength and endurance athletes. The effect per type of sport is discussed separately below.

Effect on endurance performance
Research shows that the intake of this stimulant may lead to better endurance performance. An intake of 3-6 mg/kg seems to be the sweet spot for better endurance performance.

Effect on team sports and short efforts
Furthermore, this stimulant also seems to have a positive effect for high-intensity (team) sports such as football and rugby where you have to sustain short sprints for a long time.

Effect on strength training
Less is known about the effect of caffeine on strength performance and there is as yet no complete consensus. It is suspected that caffeine may have a positive effect on strength in lower body exercises. Think of exercises such as the squat or deadlift. The effect on exercises for the upper body does not seem to be present at all. A possible explanation for this is that exercises for the lower body may cost more mental strength and caffeine consumption therefore results in more strength gains. Also because it makes you feel more cheerful. It mainly concerns the perception of the exercise and the performance.

How much should you take for sports performance?
It is recommended to take a caffeine pill 30 to 60 minutes before a sports performance. An intake of 3-6mg/kg seems to be the optimal dose for better endurance or strength sports performance. If you never drink or drink coffee, we recommend starting with 3mg/kg so your body can get used to it. Make sure that you do not do this on a competition day, but first in a (competition) training so that you know whether you react positively or negatively.

What is the explanation for the performance improvement thanks to caffeine?
Several reasons are given for the performance-enhancing effect of caffeine. The most important is that it counteracts fatigue because it partly inhibits adenosine absorption. Another explanation is the increased release of adrenaline and dopamine, which provide energy and inhibit pain. A third explanation is that caffeine influences the energy supply of a sports performance. Research shows that caffeine slightly reduces glycogen use during endurance exercise, so that the body uses slightly more fats as an energy source. This seems to increase performance in endurance sports.

Finally, it’s possible that caffeine makes you feel more upbeat that makes you (feel like you) perform better. If you take too much, this effect can also work against you through a loss of focus.

Negative effects of caffeine

  • It is a stimulant and causes the narrowing of the blood vessels. People with high blood pressure are therefore also advised not to consume a lot of caffeine-rich products. People with cardiovascular disease are advised not to take caffeine supplements. Please discuss this with your specialist or GP first.
  • Caffeine in the afternoon or evening makes some people less likely to fall asleep.
  • If you regularly consume too much caffeine, you may experience restlessness, anxiety, irritability, headaches, tremors, dizziness, ringing in the ears and palpitations. Too much of this stimulant can also make it difficult to fall asleep.

Is caffeine addictive?

Long-term caffeine intake has not been proven to lead to addiction. The main reason is that there is little or no mental or physical dependence. Regular use of large amounts of coffee can cause a range of symptoms such as restlessness, anxiety, irritability, agitation, muscle tremors, insomnia, headache, increased urine output, sensory disturbances (tinnitus), cardiovascular disorders (tachycardia, arrhythmia) and stomach and intestinal complaints (nausea). , vomiting, diarrhoea). There are large individual differences in the sensitivity to caffeine.