Monday, August 13, 2007

A Shot of Reality: Falsely Fueled

Craig, as you read the following post and the grin begins to permeate, please pause before you dial my number, compose yourself and spend a moment reflecting on the evils of self-righteousness. Seriously, I can hear the 'I-told-you-so' face over the phone and I'm sure to respond with that particular flavor of snippy you like so much. All together an unpleasant and unnecessary interaction, dontcha think?

On July 5th - that would be the day after a late night of fireworks - I had a 5:30a client. I refuse to get up any earlier than my usual 4:30a but with less preening and less pausing for thoughtful contemplation of BBC Worldwide as I ate my breakfast, I could still get to work on time. Oh, and I elected not to spit-shine my flip flops, touch-up my toenail polish or iron and starch my best go-to-meetin' sweats. The blueberry antioxidant face mask guaranteed to spackle over, smooth out or generate an attention-deflecting Jedi mind trick to hide my crows feet would have to go too. Unfortunately, the life I chose always forces me to first eliminate 'girl' from my world leaving me plain but prepared.

I remembered too late that my diva scheduling demands of no-earlier-than 6a (and only the green M&Ms), was not based on sleep demands and self care, but the operating hours of Starbuck's. Nothing opens that early. Nothing. In my neighborhood nobody but me could think about coffee at that hour. The resident vampires were just making their way home from a night of bloodletting debauchery as I eased out of the 'hood and onto the highway.

No bother, really.

At about 6a, as my client sweated and strained, I was blaming my unnatural sluggishness on lack of sleep, tough recovery from a workout, old age and/or voodoo stink-eye curse (I'm sure it wasn't meant for me - it ricocheted and I walked into it like a lingering toxic cloud of Axe Body Spray). Between 6:30a and 7:00a, I darted out for coffee while I longed for a nap between clean, crisp sheets. Oh, and cancellations. Sweet cancellations. Sorry folks - love ya' - but sometimes, only sometimes, I'm a bad trainer and I like it just a little when you're not here. I grow fonder in your absence, I swear.

At 8a, I was chipper and as for clients? Bring ‘em! Could it be the coffee that I've told Craig again and again that I really like but don't 'need'?


I’ve done the research on caffeine a trillion times and every time I get mixed results. Maybe it’s because I was always looking for a loop hole that I always found one. After all, on a Vermont farm with no central heating and a guaranteed early morning rousting from bed, you’re practically weaned on the stuff even if it’s just to warm your hands on the mug while the woodstove fires up.

It didn’t surprise me when, again, I sought sources to explain the impact of caffeine on my system only to find more fuzzy answers. This time though I realized that, at very least, caffeine helped hide the toll my lack of sleep was taking. I decided that day to increase my sleep and I suppose it’s no surprise that it decreased my dependency and my urge to consume coffee.

“I do see health issues stemming from the overconsumption of caffeine,” said Dr. Carlston of Total Body Wellness in Issaquah. When my research became tedious, I turned to Dr. Ladd Carlston. He’s my go-to guy because he's a man who’s very passionate about patient care and I knew he’d have some insights. He continued, “ This effect is indirect - meaning that my patients (the ones that over consume caffeine) are fatigued and burned out because their bodies have been over stimulated by the caffeine and left exhausted -decreasing their healing response, increasing mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, and of course - making them more tired than they ought to be!”

It sounds a little too familiar. Except for the mood swing part, of course (and, again Craig, have you learned nothing? Now is not the time to chime in either.)

So, sleeping more helped but is cutting back on caffeine enough or does it require, gasp! giving it up entirely? What level of consumption would be safe for me, I wondered.

“This is very difficult to answer. Of course a ‘safe’ level of consumption would be different for each person. I do think that the body adapts to consumption in a way,” Dr. Carlston said.
It’s just the kind of loop hole I yearned for because, as long as I roll out of bed at 4:30a, I was having a hard time imagining mornings without a little pick-me-up.

“but usually caffeine consumption and stress go hand in hand (haha),” said Dr. Carlston, “Stress draws on the adrenals for their reserves, and caffeine depletes the reserves, so it is a double whammy that can be very damaging long term (depending on the patients overall state of health).”

Once you’ve burned out your adrenals, what does it take to recover?

“It can be very difficult to recover from depending on the state of health that the patient was in going into it, said Dr. Carlston, “Ideally, you'd go to a tropical island and have no stress and eat nuts and berries for a year and then you'd MAYBE be back to where you were before the adrenals started depleting, but that is not an option for most people (lol)”

Now, if he writes me a prescription for that, does the HMO cover it? In the meantime, can I get that Americano half-decaf?

The Research

Genetic polymorphism of the adenosine A2A receptor
is associated with habitual caffeine consumption
Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada.

Our findings show that the probability of having the ADORA2A 1083TT genotype decreases as habitual caffeine consumption increases. This observation provides a biologic basis for caffeine consumption behavior and suggests that persons with this genotype may be less vulnerable to caffeine dependence.

Coffee and health: a review of recent human research
Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University

Coffee is a complex mixture of chemicals that provides significant amounts of chlorogenic acid and caffeine. Unfiltered coffee is a significant source of cafestol and kahweol, which are diterpenes that have been implicated in the cholesterol-raising effects of coffee. The results of epidemiological research suggest that coffee consumption may help prevent several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, Parkinson's disease and liver disease (cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma). Most prospective cohort studies have not found coffee consumption to be associated with significantly increased cardiovascular disease risk. However, coffee consumption is associated with increases in several cardiovascular disease risk factors, including blood pressure and plasma homocysteine. At present, there is little evidence that coffee consumption increases the risk of cancer. For adults consuming moderate amounts of coffee (3-4 cups/d providing 300-400 mg/d of caffeine), there is little evidence of health risks and some evidence of health benefits.

Coffee consumption and human health--beneficial or detrimental?--Mechanisms for effects of coffee consumption on different risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Coffee is also a rich source of many other ingredients that may contribute to its biological activity, like heterocyclic compounds that exhibit strong antioxidant activity. Based on the literature reviewed, it is apparent that moderate daily filtered, coffee intake is not associated with any adverse effects on cardiovascular outcome. On the contrary, the data shows that coffee has a significant antioxidant activity, and may have an inverse association with the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The health consequences of caffeine

Acutely administered caffeine modestly increases blood pressure, plasma catecholamine levels, plasma renin activity, serum free fatty acid levels, urine production, and gastric acid secretion. It alters the electroencephalographic spectrum, mood, and sleep patterns of normal volunteers. Chronic caffeine consumption has no effect on blood pressure, plasma catecholamine levels, plasma renin activity, serum cholesterol concentration, blood glucose levels, or urine production. Caffeine does not appear to be useful for increasing the motility of hypomotile sperm in artificial insemination or in the therapy of minimal brain dysfunction, cancer, or Parkinson's syndrome, but it may be effective as a topical treatment of atopic dermatitis and as systemic therapy for neonatal apnea. Caffeine does not seem to be associated with myocardial infarction; lower urinary tract, renal, or pancreatic cancer; teratogenicity; or fibrocystic breast disease. The role of caffeine in the production of cardiac arrhythmias or gastric or duodenal ulcers remains uncertain.

Caffeine and Exercise

Effects of eight weeks of caffeine supplementation
and endurance training on aerobic fitness and body composition
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Human Performance Laboratory,
Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of daily administration of a supplement that contained caffeine in conjunction with 8 weeks of aerobic training on VO(2)peak, time to running exhaustion at 90% VO(2)peak, body weight, and body composition. Thirty-six college students (14 men and 22 women; mean +/- SD, age 22.4 +/- 2.9 years) volunteered for this investigation and were randomized into either a placebo (n = 18) or supplement group (n = 18). The subjects ingested 1 dose (3 pills = 201 mg of caffeine) of the placebo or supplement per day during the study period. In addition, the subjects performed treadmill running for 45 minutes at 75% of the heart rate at VO(2)peak, three times per week for 8 weeks. All subjects were tested pretraining and posttraining for VO(2)peak, time to running exhaustion (TRE) at 90% VO(2)peak, body weight (BW), percentage body fat (%FAT), fat weight (FW), and fat-free weight (FFW). The results indicated that there were equivalent training-induced increases (p <> 0.05) in BW, %FAT, FW, or FFW for either group. These findings indicated that chronic use of the caffeine-containing supplement in the present study, in conjunction with aerobic training, provided no ergogenic effects as measured by VO(2)peak and TRE, and the supplement was of no benefit for altering body weight or body composition.

The acute effects of a caffeine-containing supplement on strength, muscular endurance, and anaerobic capabilities
Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences, Human Performance Laboratory,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The purpose of this study was to examine the acute effects of a caffeine-containing supplement on upper- and lower-body strength and muscular endurance as well as anaerobic capabilities. Thirty-seven resistance-trained men (mean +/- SD, age: 21 +/- 2 years) volunteered to participate in this study. On the first laboratory visit, the subjects performed 2 Wingate Anaerobic Tests (WAnTs) to determine peak power (PP) and mean power (MP), as well as tests for 1 repetition maximum (1RM), dynamic constant external resistance strength, and muscular endurance (TOTV; total volume of weight lifted during an endurance test with 80% of the 1RM) on the bilateral leg extension (LE) and free-weight bench press (BP) exercises. Following a minimum of 48 hours of rest, the subjects returned to the laboratory for the second testing session and were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups: a supplement group (SUPP; n = 17), which ingested a caffeine-containing supplement, or a placebo group (PLAC; n = 20), which ingested a cellulose placebo. One hour after ingesting either the caffeine-containing supplement or the placebo, the subjects performed 2 WAnTs and were tested for 1RM strength and muscular endurance on the LE and BP exercises. The results indicated that there was a significant (p <>Physiological and cognitive responses to caffeine during repeated, high-intensity exercise
Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland

This study investigated the effects of caffeine on repeated, anaerobic exercise using a double-blind, randomized, crossover design. Seventeen subjects (five female) underwent cognitive (reaction time, number recall) and blood (glucose, potassium, catecholamines, lactate) testing before and after consuming caffeine (6 mg/kg), placebo, or nothing (control). An exercise test (two 60 s maximal cycling bouts) was conducted 90 min after caffeine/placebo consumption. Plasma caffeine concentrations significantly increased after caffeine ingestion, however, there were no positive effects on cognitive or blood parameters except a significant decrease in plasma potassium concentrations at rest. Potentially negative effects of caffeine included significantly higher blood lactate compared to control and significantly slower time to peak power in exercise bout 2 compared to control and placebo. Caffeine had no significant effect on peak power, work output, RPE, or peak heart rate. In conclusion, caffeine had no ergogenic effect on repeated, maximal cycling bouts and may be detrimental to anaerobic performance.

Influence of caffeine on perception of effort, metabolism and exercise performance following a high-fat meal.
Department of Sports Science, University of Wales, Swansea, UK

This study examined the effects of caffeine, co-ingested with a high fat meal, on perceptual and metabolic responses during incremental (Experiment 1) and endurance (Experiment 2) exercise performance. Trained participants performed three constant-load cycling tests at approximately 73% of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) for 30 min at 20 degrees C (Experiment 1, n = 8) and to the limit of tolerance at 10 degrees C (Experiment 2, n = 10). The 30 min constant-load exercise in Experiment 1 was followed by incremental exercise (15 W . min-1) to fatigue. Four hours before the first test, the participants consumed a 90% carbohydrate meal (control trial); in the remaining two tests, the participants consumed a 90% fat meal with (fat + caffeine trial) and without (fat-only trial) caffeine. Caffeine and placebo were randomly assigned and ingested 1 h before exercise. In both experiments, ratings of perceived leg exertion were significantly lower during the fat + caffeine than fat-only trial (Experiment 1: P < s =" 1.8" s =" 2.2" s =" 2.2"> 0.05) and constant-load exercise (Experiment 2: control: 116 (88 - 145) min; fat-only: 122 (96 - 144) min; fat + caffeine: 127 (107 - 176) min; P > 0.05) was not different between the fat-only and fat + caffeine trials. In conclusion, while a number of metabolic responses were increased during exercise after caffeine ingestion, perception of effort was reduced and this may be attributed to the direct stimulatory effect of caffeine on the central nervous system. However, this caffeine-induced reduction in effort perception did not improve exercise performance.PMID: 16815783 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]