- Caffeine is not an energy provider. It is a central nervous system stimulant drug that produces mild positive mood changes. Caffeine elevates the level of certain hormones – adrenaline, cortisol (stress hormone), adenosine and dopamine. This gives a temporary boost, but after the caffeine wears off, the body can feel fatigued and feelings of mild depression can set in.
- Sleep: Caffeine can affect your sleep by keeping you awake longer, thereby shortening the amount of sleep you get, and giving you less time in the restorative stages of sleep, which takes a toll on your level of alertness the next day and overall health.
- Weight: Many experts believe that increased levels of cortisol lead to stronger cravings for fat and carbohydrates, and cause the body to store fat in the abdomen.
- Dependence: At doses of around 100mg daily (2 cups of coffee) caffeine has been shown to produce physical dependence characterised by lethargy and headache on cessation of intake.
- Nutrient Leeching: Caffeine leeches nutrients from the body. For instance caffeine leeches B vitamins, which are energy-releasers. Orbana contains high concentrations of energy-releasing B vitamins, so it would not be desirable to have caffeine in Orbana, as the caffeine would negate the benefits of the B vitamins. This also brings into question the wisdom having B vitamins in caffeinated beverages.
- Iron: Caffeine consumption has been shown to reduce the body’s ability to absorb iron.
So the overall message here is that caffeine can enhance physical performance in the short term and can be effective if used sparingly in this instance. However, the long term implications of consuming high levels of caffeine can be very damaging.
Our philosophy is to promote long term good health and thereby would boost performance both immediately and over a period of time. We feel that this would be best achieved by avoiding caffeine and artificial sweeteners and preservatives in energy drinks entirely.
This is not to say that caffeine cannot be beneficial. The question is more about quantity and other lifestyle factors.
The guidelines to caffeine intake are:
- Limit your caffeine intake to less than 60mg a day (about 1 cup of coffee)
- Try to avoid caffeine after 2pm. Caffeine stays in your system for 8 hours and disrupts sleep, so if you take it after 2pm it will more than likely disrupt sleep patterns
- If you are stressed already and thus already have high levels cortisol it is best to avoid caffeine – which further increases cortisol levels and will have a detrimental effect on sleep and mood.
So if you are not stressed and you don’t have a high caffeine intake otherwise, you could gain benefit by taking a smallish amount of caffeine before exercise. We think most people lead stressful lives and often rely on caffeine to get them through their day and therefore is best avoided in energy drinks.
Share your comments and questions about caffeine in sports and energy drinks below!