The most popular ergogenic aid for weight loss and performance

Unfortunately, most people want to lose weight — maybe ten pounds, maybe even hundreds of pounds, but most of the time they’re only thinking about losing the weight, not about staying healthy and longevity. It seems that we all want to lose in the quickest way possible and with the minimum amount of effort, without thinking about the longer term.

Obesity is an increasing health epidemic in almost every part of the world, with an estimated 93 million affected by obesity in the US alone. And of course this is leading not just to a decreased life quality but to enormous health care costs too.

But weight loss and health really does not need to be a mystery. The best way, and most simple recipe to lose excess amounts of weight is to first be aware how much food you consume each day. Start logging your food — just keeping a note of everything that you eat and drink. When you do, you’ll start noticing which foods increase your hunger, and which foods affect your mood. Also, limiting your eating to a specific eating window each day can have a huge effect. Examples of the this include time restricted feeding as well as intermittent fasting and prolonged fasting. When you start to lose some weight, you will find that at the same time you start wanting to move more and become more active in your daily life.

Around 15% of US adults have used a weight-loss dietary supplement at some point in their lives, and they spend around $2.1 billion each year on weight-loss dietary supplements. Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulating substance in the world. It is found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, energy drinks and actually in many medications too. It is most often used as a fat loss ergonomic aid because of its well known effects on thermogenesis (energy expenditure) and lipolysis (fat oxidation).

However, because caffeine is now added to so many supplements, you may be consuming excessive amounts without knowing it, and that can actually cause negative effects on your health. So instead of just thinking of caffeine when you drink coffee, you should be mindful of how much total amount caffeine is inside the other products that you are consuming. If you are taking more than 200mg caffeine (around 2 cups of coffee) each day then it may be doing you more harm than good, for example by elevating your blood pressure and heart rate, resulting in diuresis. It can also can cause insomnia and make you feel nervous and shaky.

There have not been enough clinical trials examining the effects of caffeine on weight loss to give a definitive answer. But we do know that caffeine affects lipolysis by inhibiting a specific enzyme necessary to allow hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) to continue on its thermogenic pathway of breaking down triglycerides. It also seems to promote energy expenditure by increasing activity in the sympathetic nervous system, which can enhance lipolysis. Caffeine also works synergistically with adrenaline to enhance lipolysis too.

In addition, caffeine acts as an adenosine-receptor antagonist. Adenosine is a naturally occurring nucleoside which is found in various forms in all cells of the body, and it is an essential component of the energy production and utilization systems of the body. When it binds to its receptors, neural activity slows down, and we begin to feel sleepy. Thus, adenosine facilitates sleep and dilates the blood vessels, probably to ensure good oxygenation during sleep.

The stimulant effect of coffee comes mostly from the way that it acts on the adenosine receptors in the neural membrane. To a nerve cell, caffeine looks like adenosine, and binds to the adenosine receptor. However, caffeine doesn’t slow down the cell’s activity like adenosine would, and therefore the cell can no longer correctly identify adenosine, because caffeine is taking up all the receptors that adenosine would normally bind to. Instead of slowing down because of the adenosine’s effect, the nerve cells speed up.

90% of adults drink coffee on a regular basis, and most of us get some stimulating effect from each cup of coffee that we drink. On the other hand, caffeine can create a physical dependency, causing addiction like most drugs. It increases the production of dopamine in the brain’s pleasure circuits, thus helping to maintain the dependency on it. If you then want to stop consuming caffeine you will most likely experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, mood disorders, and sleepiness.

Caffeine also causes the brain’s blood vessels to constrict, because it blocks adenosine’s ability to open them up. This is the reason that some headache medicines contain caffeine — to constrict the blood vessels in the brain, and help stop a vascular headache.

As already mentioned, caffeine is not found only coffee. Examples of other products that contain caffeine include matcha tea, black tea, green tea, yerba mate, soft drinks, energy bars, cliff bars, guarana, dark chocolate, some breakfast cereals, PMS medications, headache and flu remedies, puddings, cacao nibs, and ice-cream and some yogurt. So do make sure that you read the label and be aware of how much caffeine you are really consuming each day!

Here’s some related articles on this subject:

Should you drink coffee on an empty stomach?

Are energy drinks safe?

Resources:

1 — https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WeightLoss-HealthProfessional/

2 — https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/beware-products-promising-miracle-weight-loss

3 — https://www.obesityaction.org/get-educated/understanding-your-weight-and-health/

4 — https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/84/4/682/4633022

5 — https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijvm/2010/834060/

6 — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20164566

7 — https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/topic-overview/potential-mechanisms-2/

8 — “Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements” study book by Jose Antonio, Douglas Kalman, Jeffrey R. Stout, Mike Greenwood, Darryn Willoughby, G. Gregory Haff et al.

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