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Coffee: Friend Or Foe

The Questions
There may be no flashing neon lights reminding you about the side effects of drinking coffee, but we all know they exist. Because coffee comes from the seeds of Coffea plant’s berries, and how could something that comes from berries be harmful? After all, coffee is what kick-starts every morning and gets us working. But can you sip on your coffee with absolutely no concern about its side effects? Do you ever wonder which is better, regular systematic consumption of coffee or avoiding habituation completely? Finally, does coffee really improve athletic performance? If these questions have been burning in the back of your mind, then you should read on.

What is Caffeine Withdrawal?
Against popular belief, scientific literature tells us that there is no physical harm in drinking coffee. In fact, moderate consumption can benefit your body. There’s one catch: this positive effect is not caffeine’s work, but rather the coffee itself. Caffeine can be bad for you, and it all depends on your own physiology. Some people experience headaches, increased heart rate, tremors, or even performance impairment. On top of that, coffee has addictive characteristics and caffeine intoxication that comes from excessive intake can cause withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, and difficulty focusing. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) now categorizes caffeine withdrawal as a mental disorder, noting that many people are addicted to the process of coffee consumption.

The Benefits
Yet, there is plenty of scientific evidence that caffeine ups the endurance of the athlete via a type of fatigue resistance or an altered perception of effort. Recent studies recommend that consumption be kept modest, at a range of 1-3mg/kg BM or 70 to 150 milligrams caffeine before or during exercise. More is not necessarily better in the case of caffeine, and everyone’s body reacts differently to caffeine. So, it’s best to stay within the recommended range and keep track of your own consumption and your body’s reaction.

Should You Keep Drinking?
Finally, can someone adapt to caffeine consumption, dulling the positive effects of caffeine on athletic performance? There still needs to be research done on caffeine, athletics, and their relationship. However, it seems that the most recent studies are recommending coffee drinkers to continue their usage schedules rather than risk withdrawal symptoms. Some even state that the positive effects of caffeine on athletic performance increases with habituation, with less risk of the negative effects such as heart rate increase, tremors, and irritability. From this, we can conclude that a moderate caffeine schedule as part of a balanced diet is ideal.

As you can see, coffee consumption is perfectly fine for most people. The complexity comes from individual differences and the habit-forming nature of caffeine. What is definite is that recognizing that coffee is not a substitute for good-quality sleep and being aware of potential side effects of caffeine withdrawal is vital for any user.