Caffeine has always been in controversies for its pros and cons on health. As a nutritionist my mantra is – Moderation!

Caffeine has always been in controversies for its pros and cons on health. As a nutritionist my mantra is – Moderation! I often hear my clients asking me if they can consume caffeine freely. Most serious queries comes from sports enthusiasts and adolescents trying to improve their athletic performance. Like ,”Is caffeine something I should incorporate into my nutrition plan? “ or “Are there certain forms that are better than others?”

Caffeine is one of the most effective exercise supplements available. It is also very cheap and relatively safe to use. Studies have shown that caffeine can benefit endurance performance, high-intensity exercise and power sports. However, it seems to benefit trained athletes the most.

Caffeine reduces perception of fatigue. Adenosine antagonist with effects on many body targets including central nervous system. Allows exercise to be sustained at optimal intensity/output for longer time. Rules of National Collegiate Athletic Association competition prohibit the intake of large doses that produce urinary caffeine levels exceeding 15 ug/ml. The recommended dose varies by body weight, but is typically about 200–400 mg, taken 30–60 minutes before a workout. Most of the global guidelines consider 2-4 mg/ kg body weight of caffeine to be safe. Peak absorption is mostly seen within 15 minutes (individual variations are there).

The next question that comes is “ how do I get this recommended dose to get the best performance results?” That does become tricky, if you try and meet this measured dose through our regular cup of coffee made at home or bought at a café. As the caffeine content in a cup will depend on :Type of coffee; The temperature it is brewed and For how much time it is brewed/ cooked etc.

That does become tricky, if you try and meet this measured dose through our regular cup of coffee made at home or bought at a café. As the caffeine content in a cup will depend on :Type of coffee; The temperature it is brewed and For how much time it is brewed/ cooked etc.

Here is the list of caffeine levels with representative levels of a variety of caffeinated beverages per typical serve.

One Caffeine Strip: 100 mg caffeine
375 ml Iced Coffee: 68 mg caffeine approx
Average espresso: 75-85 mg Caffeine approx
Instant coffee: ~ 65 mg Caffeine approx
Tea: 50-80 mg caffeine approx
Colas: 30- 70 mg caffeine approx
Energy Drinks: 80-160 mg caffeine

Two things that needs further attention:

When coffee beans are roasted, acrylamide is formed (acrylamide is a potentially harmful chemical formed during the coffee bean roasting process). There’s no way to remove acrylamide from coffee, so when you drink it, you’re exposing yourself to the chemical leading to a lot of health concerns. To compensate the taste of bitter caffeine, we also add sugar, which can be harmful in the long run.

Lately, I see thin caffeine strips available in the market with doses as high as 100-200 mg / strip. These allow for caffeine intake that is not processed on high temperatures, has no added sucrose/ sugar and one can keep a check on exact amount of caffeine that is consumed and not just approx dosage. More so, one may get caffeine more quickly, as the absorption is faster. This may be a great resolution to the issues that caffeine intake can prop up.

– Pariksha Rao (Clinical Nutritionist and Diabetes Expert)