Did You Know This About Caffeine
1. It Mimics a Vital Molecule in the Brain
Adenosine is an important molecule that acts as a neurotransmitter (or a substance that transmits nerve impulses) in the brain. Caffeine’s chemical structure is similar to that of adenosine, allowing it to “mimic” adenosine and to bind to the same receptors in the brain. Adenosine makes you drowsy and depresses the central nervous system when it binds to the receptors, but when caffeine is present, it leaves fewer of these transmitters for adenosine, which “speeds up” your brain activity. Fascinating, right? Watch our video 7 Crazy Things Coffee Does to Your Body for more similar info!
2. You Shouldn’t Drink It First Thing in the Morning
Contrary to what you think, you actually don’t need caffeine right when you wake up. The reason: Your body’s cortisol levels are highest in the morning–it peaks about 20-30 minutes after you wake up—and then is lowest at night to help your body relax for sleep. Mixing high levels of cortisol with caffeine can increase your tolerance, making caffeine less effective. The best time to drink coffee is mid-morning and mid-afternoon, which are the times when your cortisol is lowest.
3. Caffeine Takes About 10 Minutes to Kick In
Caffeine has an impact on your body in as little as 10 minutes and reaches its peak level of effectiveness within 45 minutes of your first sip. You could feel the effects of the caffeine for about three to five hours after you finish that Cuppa Joe, depending on how fast your body metabolizes it.
4. Most of Us Consume Caffeine Daily
Ninety percent of people consume caffeine at some point during the day, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And while Americans love designer coffee drinks, it doesn’t even rank in the top 10 of coffee-drinking countries. According to 2013 data from EuroInformer.com, Finland consumes the most with 9.6 kg per capita of roasted beans, which works out to about 2.64 cups per person, per day.
5. It Affects People Differently
Age, race, and gender are just a few of the things that can influence how caffeine is processed in the body. As a rule, women generally metabolize caffeine faster than men, and smokers process it twice as quickly as non-smokers. People of Asian backgrounds tend to metabolize caffeine slower than people of other racial backgrounds, too.
6. Your Body Can Tolerate Caffeine… to a Point
Adults in good health can generally tolerate a whopping 400 mg of caffeine a day, according to the Mayo Clinic. But what you can and should do can be a blurry line once things become a habit; heavy caffeine use is described as regularly drinking between 400 and 600 mg a day.
7. Espresso Contains the Most
A shot of espresso has the most caffeine per ounce, clocking in at 51.3 mg while drip coffee contains about 18.1 mg. Espresso beans are no different than regular coffee beans; the only difference is in the preparation process, making it much more concentrated than regular drip coffee.
8. Energy Drinks Have More Caffeine Than Advertised
A 2012 study found that many energy drinks don’t put accurate caffeine counts on nutrition labels and that they often contain more than advertised. Popular energy drinks like Red Bull, AMP, and Monster contain about 10 mg per ounce, giving those who drink it a jolt of 120 mg or more per 12-ounce can.
9. Caffeine From Coffee and Green Tea is Good for You
Caffeine is most plentiful in coffee and green tea, but that’s not all these all-natural beverages have to offer. Both coffee and green tea are chock full of antioxidants that can help fight off free radicals. Green tea also contains catechin, including the powerful compound called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, that is shown to help fight belly fat.
10. Energy Drinks Are a Terrible Source
It isn’t the caffeine in energy drinks that is unhealthy; it’s the other ingredients put in each concoction by manufacturers. Energy drinks are routinely stuffed full of sugar, artificial colors, and other ingredients like taurine, panax ginseng root extract and L-carnitine.
11. Some Coffee Brands Have More Caffeine Than Others
Think you’re getting the same cup of coffee at McDonald’s as you do at Starbucks? Think again: A 2014 study conducted by Thrillist found that there’s a big difference in coffee depending on where you buy it. McDonald’s coffee comes in at about 9.1 mg of caffeine per ounce while Dunkin’ Donuts contains 12.7 mg per ounce and Starbucks at a whopping 20.6 mg per cup.
12. Dark Roast Coffees Have Slightly Less Caffeine Than Light Roasts
It may seem strange since espresso is dark and contains a lot of caffeine, but dark roasted varieties of coffee have less caffeine than lighter roasts. This is because lighter roasts are exposed to less heat than dark blends. That said, you won’t notice a huge difference in your energy between the two.
13. Caffeine is Found in Over 60 Plants
Caffeine is a naturally-occurring found in over 60 plants. The most well-known as coffee beans and tea leaves, but it’s also present in cocoa beans and yerba mate, guarana berries, and guarusa. Dark chocolate—made from cocoa beans—contains more caffeine than its milk chocolate counterpart.
14. You Can Become Dependent on It
When caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors, the brain responds over time by creating more of them. As that happens, the chemistry of the brain changes, resulting in the need for more caffeine to create the same effect.
15. Caffeine is Safe-ish for Pregnant Women
Moms-to-be can drink caffeine, but it’s best if you keep it in moderation because it can cross the placenta and affect the heart rate of an unborn child. The Mayo Clinic says that a daily caffeine intake of 200 mg a day is generally fine for both mom and baby, but your doctor should have the final call.