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19 days to go.

Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in coffee, tea and cacao but also added to things like cola. Its mechanisms of action are in the brain where it binds to receptors and interrupts the normal chemical pathway that leads to sleepiness so you don’t feel so tired. It also stimulates the production of adrenaline which helps the brain become more alert and to focus and can also help to improve your mood.

A cup of brewed coffee contains around 100 – 130 mg caffeine but a cup of instant has less, at around 60-90mg.  Even decaffeinated coffee is not completely free and can contain up to 20mg caffeine.   Tea contains about half the caffeine of coffee, and cocoa and chocolate quite small amounts.

The stimulant effect on the nervous system can increase metabolism which in turn can help burn fat although not sufficient to contribute to major weight loss without attention to diet and exercise. With regards exercise, the fat burning boost from caffeine can enable the body to use fat during exercise and preserve muscle glucose so your muscles don’t tire quite so quickly.

We talked about the health benefits of coffee in 22 days to go. There are downside to ingesting caffeine.

We are all different and the amount we would have to ingest to develop problems will differ. The recommended maximum daily intake of caffeine is around 400mg or four cups of coffee a day.

Being a stimulant, caffeine in excess can cause anxiety and tremors. In some cases heart palpitations and arrhythmias can occur and also high blood pressure. One of the more common effects reported is that it can prevent us from sleeping.  Headaches and migraine are also possible.

If you’re having trouble sleeping you need to be careful of setting up a cycle by drinking a lot of coffee or tea to help with tiredness during the day which, because of its caffeine content then keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep. Try to reduce caffeine intake after lunchtime if you are having trouble sleeping.

Also be aware that quite a lot of painkillers contain caffeine so do check ingredients of these especially if taking them later in the day as they might contribute to insomnia.

If you’re trying to cut back on your caffeine intake do remember that it is addictive and withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, tiredness and poor concentration are quite common. These effects should clear in a few days.

In summary, caffeine can be safely consumed within the recommended guidelines but be mindful it’s not only found in your daily cuppa. And if you’re getting any of the adverse effects and think they may be due to the caffeine then it’s worth keeping a note of how much you’re consuming and maybe trying to cut back.











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