Tag Archives: caffeine

Can coffee improve your workout? The science of caffeine and exercise

I confess I love coffee. I drink it every morning and after meals when I eat out. Mostly I consume decaf as I have read some horrifying studies on caffeine addiction and caffeine headaches. Also, I really don’t like to add chemicals to my system if I can help it. Here is an interesting study of the effect of caffeine and coffee on workouts from Medical Xpress.

Caffeine is one of the most researched substances reported to help athletes perform better and train longer and harder. As a result, professional and amateur sportspeople often take it as a performance-enhancing “ergogenic” aids for a wide range of activities. These include intermittent exercise such as football and racket sports, endurance exercise such as running and cycling, and resistance exercise such as weightlifting.

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But while most research looks at the effects of pure caffeine consumed as tablets with water, in the real world most people get their caffeine from coffee, energy drinks or other products like special gels or chewing gum. So will drinking a cup of joe before your workout actually make a difference? The answer could depend as much on your genes as what kind of coffee you’re drinking.

Scientists think caffeine affects the body chemical adenosine, which normally promotes sleep and suppresses arousal. Caffeine ties up the receptors in the brain that detect adenosine and so makes it more alert. Continue reading

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Filed under caffeine, cardio exercise, coffee, Exercise, exercise benefits, exercise duration

Why Should I Eat More Dark Chocolate?

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought it worth revisiting this post I did on eating more dark chocolate.

Enjoy!

Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Before starting, let me clarify that the word ‘more’ in the header assumes you are eating little or no dark chocolate at present because here in the U.S. we primarily eat milk chocolate. How much? Good question. Some 71 percent of the chocolate we eat is milk chocolate. And, how much total?

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The World Atlas of Chocolate puts the U.S. in 11th place worldwide in per capita chocolate consumption with a paltry 11.5 pounds per year. Switzerland is in first place with more than double that total.

As far as a definition of dark chocolate goes, the U.S. has no fixed percentage of cocoa content to define dark chocolate. In practice, however, it seems that 70 percent cocoa solids qualifies as dark chocolate.

But why eat more dark chocolate? Experience L!fe says, “Sure, chocolate’s exquisitely decadent. But its primary ingredient, cocoa, has triple the antioxidants of green tea, helps reduce…

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Are we java junkies? – Infographic

I am a coffee drinker and coffee lover. I wrote about my cold brewing coffee in March. Also, check out my post from Harvard on coffee facts.

This is one of the most informative infographics I can remember seeing. Enjoy!

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Tony

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7 Steps to Smarter Coffee Drinking – Infographic

First of all, bike riders are notorious coffee drinkers. Although I ride a bike plenty, I am not one of the caffeine crazies. However, I did just write a post on cold-brewed coffee. My daily consumption comes to little more than two cups a day. Draw your own conclusions. I just ran across this infographic and thought it had a lot of good information on the subject.

Here’s a fun little caffeine fact: Caffeine was on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) list of prohibited substances for many years. Athletes who tested positive for more than 12 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of urine could be banned from the Olympic Games. This level can be reached after drinking about 5 cups of coffee. However, the IOC REMOVED caffeine from the banned list in 2004. Caffeine was taken off of the list of banned substances so that athletes who drink cola or coffee are not penalized.

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Tony

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The Evils of Caffeine

I like coffee but usually drink decaf because I read about caffeine headaches years ago and it scared the life out of me. I wanted to reblog this because I know that a lot of folks drink those ‘energy’ drinks and they are crammed with caffeine along with other undesirable chemicals. No matter what your beverage of choice, I hope this proves useful to you.

I think the natural way is always better, certainly healthier and less damaging to the body.

Tony

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How Good is Coffee or Tea for You or Me? – Infographic

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t drink either coffee or tea. It doesn’t break by sex either. I think I have more men friends who drink tea only than my women friends. All that is just anecdotal speculation. The bottom line is pretty much all of us drink something that gets us started in the morning. So, how are we doing?

I think this infographic does a nice job of spelling out the pluses and minuses.

Ironically, while I am personally primarily a coffee drinker, I have written about tea several times, especially green tea. To read further, check out:

Green Tea for St. Patrick’s Day… and Every Day
Green Tea Boosts Your Brain
How Healthy is Tea Drinking?
Is Tea Healthier Than Coffee?
How Much Sugar is in SoBe Green Tea?
Dr. Oz on Chia Seeds and Green Tea
coffee-tea-benefits

Tony

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3 Simple Ways to Get More Restful Sleep – Harvard

Regular readers know that I feel strongly about the nature and benefits of a good night’s sleep. Check out my Page – How Important is a Good Night’s Sleep? for more details.

Meanwhile, Harvard Health Publications, has some very useful information to add to the conversation.

“Even people without insomnia can have trouble getting a good night’s rest. Many things can interfere with restorative sleep – crazy work schedules, anxiety, trouble putting down the smartphone, even what you eat and drink.

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When you wake up in the morning, are you refreshed and ready to go, or groggy and grumpy? For many people, the second scenario is all too common. This report describes the latest in sleep research, including information about the numerous health conditions and medications that can interfere with normal sleep, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications used to treat sleep disorders. Most importantly, you’ll learn what you can do to get the sleep you need for optimal health, safety, and well-being.

The following three simple steps can help you sleep better.

Cut down on caffeine

Caffeine drinkers may find it harder to fall asleep than people who don’t drink caffeine. Once they drift off, their sleep is shorter and lighter. For some, a single cup of coffee in the morning means a sleepless night. That may be because caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter thought to promote sleep. Caffeine can also interrupt sleep by increasing the need to urinate during the night.

People who suffer from insomnia should avoid caffeine as much as possible, since its effects can endure for many hours. Because caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, irritability, and extreme fatigue, it may be easier to cut back gradually rather than go cold turkey. Those who can’t or don’t want to give up caffeine should avoid it after 2 p.m., or noon if they are especially caffeine-sensitive. Continue reading

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Pros and Cons of Coffee Drinking – Infographic

I am a coffee drinker although it is limited to about a full cup each day. I know coffee drinkers usually put away a lot more than that. Nonetheless, I like my cuppa in the morning.

Because it is so popular, I thought the following infographic on coffee drinking would interest you.

pros-and-cons-of-coffee-consumption-infographic

Tony

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Why Should I Eat More Dark Chocolate?

With Valentine’s Day a week away, it seemed timely to talk about chocolate. Dark chocolate.

Before starting, let me clarify that the word ‘more’ in the header assumes you are eating little or no dark chocolate at present because here in the U.S. we primarily eat milk chocolate. How much? Good question. Some 71 percent of the chocolate we eat is milk chocolate. And, how much total?

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The World Atlas of Chocolate puts the U.S. in 11th place worldwide in per capita chocolate consumption with a paltry 11.5 pounds per year. Switzerland is in first place with more than double that total.

As far as a definition of dark chocolate goes, the U.S. has no fixed percentage of cocoa content to define dark chocolate. In practice, however, it seems that 70 percent cocoa solids qualifies as dark chocolate.

But why eat more dark chocolate? Experience L!fe says, “Sure, chocolate’s exquisitely decadent. But its primary ingredient, cocoa, has triple the antioxidants of green tea, helps reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity.”

They quote Alice Medrich on it. “Alice Medrich, who is credited with bringing the chocolate truffle to the United States in the 1970s, says that when you taste chocolate without all the sugar, you become aware of its deep, earthy, nutty, and fruity flavors. She compares chocolate to wine and says that, like grapes, chocolate has a terroir that reflects the taste of the soil and climate where it’s grown.

“’Sometimes you’ll get some tropical fruit flavors or citrus flavors or cherry or even little hints of orange or coconut,’ says Medrich, author of the cookbook Seriously Bitter Sweet. ‘There are hundreds of flavor components in chocolate, and they can go to the sweet or the savory really easily.'”

FITDAY offers several benefits of dark chocolate, including:
Good for your heart. “Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis.

Good for your brain. Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function. Dark chocolate also helps reduce your risk of stroke.

Dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.

Dark chocolate contains caffeine, a mild stimulant. However, dark chocolate contains much less caffeine than coffee. A standard 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 27 mg of caffeine, compared to the 200 mg found in an eight ounce cup of coffee.

Helps control blood sugar. “The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body’s insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.

Dark chocolate contains theobromine which helps to harden tooth enamel, so unlike most sweets it lowers your risk of cavities. Theobromine also can help to suppress coughing.

The final positive from FITDAY is dark chocolate’s vitamin and mineral content. “The copper and potassium in dark chocolate help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular ailments. The iron in chocolate protects against iron deficiency anemia, and the magnesium in chocolate helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.”

Authority Nutrition
offers the following: “If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.

It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.
A 100 gram (about 4 ounces) bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:
• 11 grams of fiber.
• 67% of the RDA for Iron.
• 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
• 89% of the RDA for Copper.
• 98% of the RDA for Manganese.
• It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

Aren’t we all ready for some good news on cholesterol? Well, Authority Nutrition says, “Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.”

In case you don’t remember, HDL is the good cholesterol and LDL is the bad. You want higher HDL numbers and lower LDL ones.

Lastly, Authority Nutrition says that “Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it against sun-induced damage.”

I must confess that I had never heard dark chocolate could protect your skin from the sun, but as a skin cancer victim, I am very happy to learn it.

While I would like you to include dark chocolate in your diet, I hope that you know we are talking about reasonable amounts here. You don’t need to eat more than a couple of ounces a day to get the benefits mentioned above.

Tony

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Filed under antioxidants, blood pressure, chocolate, cholesterol, dark chocolate, Weight, weight control, weight loss

Is Tea Healthier Than Coffee?

Tea is rich in catechins, which are antioxidant polyphenols. These have been shown to reduce the action of free radicals in the body that cause damage to our cells.

SwissChiropractic's Blog

Seemingly every other day another study comes out that has found some additional health benefit to tea drinking. The list of diseases and conditions tea is believed to assist or prevent seemingly grows longer by the minute. On the other hand, coffee has been vilified for a tea-cup-pot-200-300number of years, in particular the caffeine it contains. But recently, new studies have shown that coffee is actually protective against some diseases and may be good for you in moderate amounts. So what is a person to think? If you have to choose between tea and coffee, which is the healthier choice?

Tea is rich in catechins, which are antioxidant polyphenols. These have been shown to reduce the action of free radicals in the body that cause damage to our cells. Tea is one of the highest sources of this type of antioxidant in the Western diet. Both black and green tea…

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Wrigley Launches Caffeine Gum

I guess this would have to be filed in the Something We Need Like Another Hole in the Head Department. Wrigley, a subsidiary of Mars, Inc., has launched a chewing gum with 40 milligrams of caffeine per piece and 8 pieces per box. The average cup of coffee has 100 mg, so just one of these amounts to 40 percent of a cup of coffee.

As you can see from the ad, the product is being advertised for free at 7-Eleven with the purchase of a Skinny Salted Caramel Mocha or other large hot — and presumably caffeinated— beverage! I was not able to nutritional info on this drink, nor the amount of caffeine.

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The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) pointed out that The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the consumption of caffeine and other stimulant substances in the diets of children and adolescents.  Too much caffeine can cause anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and insomnia in just about anyone, according to CSPI.

The release is perfectly timed to come out right around final exam time for kids everywhere.

Large amounts of caffeine can cause rapid heartbeat and seizures that are severe enough to require emergency care.  While the FDA has regulations governing caffeine in cola-type beverages, those regulations did not anticipate the widespread caffeination of the food supply.

As I oppose Red Bull and all those other stimulant drinks, I have to say this gumming up chewing gum idea really takes the cake. The opportunities for getting too much caffeine are rife. If you were to take all eight pieces you would have chewed up 320 mg of caffeine, more than three cups of coffee with caffeine.

These are a dangerous idea for adults and reckless for kids.

Tony

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Filed under Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, caffeine, chewing gum, stimulants

What are Healthy Sleep Habits?

I have written repeatedly about The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep. That is one of my links highlighted at the top of this page. If you click on it you will be directed to at least seven blog posts on the importance of sleep.

This is my dog, Gabi, I wish I could sleep as soundly as she does.

This is my dog, Gabi, I wish I could sleep as soundly as she does.

This afternoon I went to one of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program® that happened to be about healthy sleep habits. Associate Professor Ramadevi Gourineni in Neurology and Director of the Insomnia Program gave us the following list of Good Sleep/Wake Habits:

Daytime factors included:
*Avoiding excessive caffeine. She said not to consume more than two or three (10-12 ounce) beverages with caffeine and not to take anything with caffeine after 2:00 p.m.
*Avoid excessive napping. A 30 to 45 minute nap prior to 2:00 p.m. is all right.
*Exercise three to five days a week for 30 minutes or longer.
*Do Not Smoke.
*Stay active during the day and get sunlight exposure.

Evening Factors included:
*Avoid unintentionally falling asleep sitting and relaxing in the evening.
*Avoid alcohol before bedtime.
*Finish heavy meals at least three hours before bedtime, particularly if you have problems with regurgitation. *On the other hand, a light bedtime snack is all right. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, caffeine, Exercise, health, healthy living, sleep, smoking