Caffeine: Not For ATHLETES
Energy Drinks Should Be Off Limits
John Underwood American Athletic Institute
The following is from "What you should know about caffeine" published by the
International Food Information Council (IFIC) in Washington DC. A list of 'supporters' of
the IFIC included Pepsi, Coca-Cola, M&M, NutraSweet, Nestle and Hershey - all of whom
have caffeine in their drinks and foods. 'Partners' of the IFIC included groups such as the
National Association of Pediatric Nurses and the Children's Advertising Review Unit of
the Council of Better Business Bureau Inc.

This brochure says that "Caffeine is normally excreted within several hours after
consumption". In fact, only 1% is excreted. The remaining 99% has to be detoxified by
the liver.
It can take up to 12 hours to detoxify a single cup of coffee. This pathway is the same for
any highly caffeinated drink including energy drinks. Many studies regarding coffee and
hypertension were flawed, because the test studies came off coffee for only one or two
weeks. It takes many more weeks than this for stress hormone levels of the body to
return to normal. The 'half-life' of a drug is the time it takes the body to remove one half
of the dose. Caffeine is a drug. The half-life of a single dose of caffeine ranges from three
to TWELVE hours.

If your liver is dealing with the toxicity of caffeine breakdown, it cannot be utilized to
function in fuel restoration (refueling muscles) and other critical physiological functions
for the athlete.

Caffeine puts your body into stress. A single 250 milligram dose of caffeine (the
equivalent of about 2.5 six ounce cups of coffee) has been shown to increase levels of
the stress hormone epinephrine (adrenaline) by over 200%. Caffeine triggers a classic
fight-or-flight reaction. The fight-or-flight response was designed for events that
happened only occasionally (such as a lion chasing you). Now, we put our body in fight-
or-flight every day with caffeine!!! Since we are in society, we don't respond in a fight-or-
flight way. Instead, other things may happen. For example, sugar and fat get dumped
unused in the bloodstream. The sugar creates more stress. The fat clogs the arteries.
The digestive system slows or shuts down.
Caffeine DOES NOT improve learning or memory. In fact the exact opposite is true.
Scientific studies show that caffeine as normally consumed can reduce cerebral flow by
as much as 30%. That means less oxygen to the brain and reduced memory and
cognition. It is also believed that this reduced blood flow to your head is a contributor to
vision and hearing loss typically associated with aging.

Caffeine DOES NOT give you a lift. Caffeine is referred to as a mood elevator but this is
inaccurate. If you take a person who doesn't drink caffeine and give them some, it
doesn't elevate their mood. It makes them uncomfortable and tense. In habitual users,
caffeine appears to elevate mood, but research clearly illustrates that it's simply enabling
them to avoid the depression and fatigue associated with withdrawal. It's a classic
addiction scenario. If you deprive a smoker of their cigarettes, they feel miserable. You
give them a cigarette, they feel much better. Does that mean cigarettes give you a lift, or
are somehow good for you?

Not only is caffeine addictive, it also encourages other addictions to substances like
Caffeine is far more damaging to women, and Caffeine Blues contains an entire chapter
devoted to women's health issues. It Highlights the effects of caffeine on bone mass and
fracture risk, heart disease, anxiety and panic attack, menopause, PMS, anemia,
fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, depression, fertility and conception disorders and
complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
Caffeine does not give you energy. It stimulates your nervous system and adrenals.
That's not energy, that's stress.

The adrenal glands produce various hormones that are responsible for coordinating and
monitoring a variety of physiological activities. The adrenal glands produce cortisol,
DHEA, estrogen, testosterone, and a number of other hormones that allow your body to
function. For example, the adrenal glands control the level of cortisol so that the body
knows when to be active and when to rest. There are times when certain things, such as
caffeine, keep the cortisol levels high preventing the body from resting when it should
and preventing the adrenal glands from operating as they would. Cortisol negates
training effect in human muscle. It is a catabolic hormone which destroys the increased
capacity for muscle to do more work. The adrenal glands also produce adrenaline, the
hormone that helps the body respond when danger is near. Adrenaline raises the heart
rate and blood pressure and releases energy stores for physical strength and endurance.
When in the system, caffeine can over stimulate the central nervous system and the
adrenal glands to the point that the body is flooded with excess adrenaline and affected
by an unnecessarily fast heart rate and blood pressure. Over the course of a day this
decreases the body’s ability to function at optimal levels due to fatigue.

Over stimulating the adrenal glands can result in fatigue, insomnia, weight gain,
depression, suppression of the immune system, moodiness, skin problems and muscle
and bone loss. This is because while the cortisol produced by the adrenal glands is good
in the short term, however if high levels are sustained in the body, the adrenal glands
and the body itself become tired and weaken. People sometimes turn to caffeine to
counteract the weakness and fatigue, however, caffeine only helps to exacerbate the
situation as it keeps the cycle going. The demands of modern day society on their own
exert of lot of pressure on the body and on the adrenal glands. These demands, coupled
with those that caffeine places on the adrenal glands, can wear out the adrenal glands
and lead to a constant state of exhaustion.

A study conducted in the 1980s examined the impact caffeine has on the adrenal glands -
the study focused on epinephrine and norepinephrine, both of which are produced by the
glands. Previous studies had shown that caffeine increases the production of these
hormones. Many of the study participants revealed that while caffeine helped them to feel
energized, it left them feeling moody and with disrupted sleep patterns. Both mood and
sleep are affected by the activities of the adrenal glands, thus, the study proves that
caffeine has adverse effects on the body.

Psychological Effects Subjects apparently observed some differences in (1) energy
(increase with caffeine); (2) sleep patterns (more difficult sleeping with caffeine); and (3)
mood (more problems with caffeine). Most subjects observed some difference between
the two weeks of caffeine and non-caffeine use. There was no obvious tolerance in the
group who were regular caffeine users, although it would be difficult to document such
effects in a panel of this small size. In a baseline survey conducted before the study, the
researchers found that sixty-five percent of people who see a doctor because they are
fatigued also consume three or more cups of coffee or tea a day.

These findings indicate that caffeine has adverse effects on the adrenal glands. As
caffeine leads to long term exhaustion, it is important not to over stimulate them with

The 'energy' that you think you get from caffeine is really just a loan from the adrenals
and liver, and the interest you have to pay is very high. It creates stress in the body.

Stress is a major factor in disorders such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, ulcers,
rheumatoid arthritis, headache, hypoglycemia, asthma, herpes, hypertension and heart
disease. And yet hospitals provide coffee and tea, which put your body into stress!!!
DHEA is our vitality hormone. A decreased level of DHEA is a cause of aging. Caffeine
consumption leads to DHEA deficiency. DHEA is also a precursor for many of your
training hormones that athletes use.
Caffeine lowers the stress threshold in virtually everyone. That is, if you have had
caffeine, it will be easier for you to suffer from emotional stress. This means you have a
shorter fuse for dealing with stress. (Therefore, when most research is done that is
designed to show how safe caffeine is, any test subject who is under significant stress is
removed from the study).
Caffeine is implicated in ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome: GABA is produced in the
intestinal tract, where it calms anxiety and stress. Caffeine disrupts the normal
metabolism of GABA. Caffeine disrupts sleep. Deep sleep is CRITICAL to good health.
When there's caffeine in your bloodstream, you are unlikely to experience deep sleep at
all! Caffeine AT ANY TIME of the day can cause sleep problems, especially if you are
under stress. The average teen gets 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep per night which just
isn’t enough for athletes or anyone. Caffeine reduces that even more you wake up each
day exhausted instead of refreshed and ready to train or compete.

People do not develop a tolerance to the anxiety-producing effects of caffeine. Rather,
people simply become accustomed to the feelings of stress, irritability and
aggressiveness produced by the drug.
Caffeine contributes to depression in well-defined ways. This is particularly due to the
withdrawal effect, which can cause headache, depression and fatigue, even in light users
It is reported that 90% of people who suffered from depression and gave up caffeine
completely for 2 months reported that their depression went away!
If you are a coffee (or tea or cola), energy drink drinker, you may be thinking, "Well, I
drink coffee etc. and I'm not depressed." It's necessary to state that everyone is
different, and also that depression can be subtle. It is suggested that you will never know
the full effect the drug is having on you until you experience what life is like caffeine free
(which takes two months to do). Students the world over use caffeine not only to stay
awake, but also they believe the drug will improve their performance on exams. Solid
research, however, illustrates that as little as 100 milligrams of caffeine (one cup of
coffee, two cups of cola) can cause a significant DECREASE in recall and reasoning.
When people are relaxed and given caffeine, caffeine does not raise blood pressure
significantly. But how many people are relaxed? When people are stressed and given
caffeine, blood pressure is raised significantly.
Women who consume more than 24 ounces of coffee (6 moderate cups) per day had
almost twice the risk of heart attack compared to non-coffee drinkers. Moderate coffee
drinkers with high cholesterol had more than seven times the risk of heart attack, while
heavy coffee drinkers had eighteen times the risk of non -coffee drinkers!
Malnutrition is one of the most well-defined effects of habitual caffeine intake. A single
cup of coffee can reduce iron absorption from a meal by as much as 75%. Caffeine also
depletes your supplies of thiamin and other B vitamins (the stress vitamins for athletes
for recovery), calcium (muscle contraction), magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Magnesium is known as the anti-stress mineral. Many biochemical and physiological
processes require magnesium. It is necessary for vitamin C and calcium metabolism. It
keeps teeth healthy, brings relief from indigestion and can aid in fighting depression.
Thiamine aids growth, maintains normal carbohydrate metabolism and nervous system
functioning. It helps alleviate stress conditions, anxiety and trauma.
Potassium is of great physiological importance, contributing to the transmission of nerve
impulses, the control of skeletal muscle contractility, and the maintenance of normal
blood pressure. Deficiency symptoms include weakness, anorexia, nausea, drowsiness
and irrational behavior. Iron is a vital component of many enzymes; it can promote
resistance to disease and prevent fatigue. Deficiency can cause anemia, resulting in
impaired concentration, reduced physical performance and work capacity, and decrease
immune function.
Zinc is an essential trace element that must be supplied in the diet of human beings so
that growth and health can be maintained. It is necessary for protein synthesis and the
metabolism of vitamin A; it helps the healing process of internal and external wounds,
decreases cholesterol deposits and promotes mental awareness. A deficiency can cause
loss of appetite, growth retardation and immunological abnormalities.

Caffeine increases calcium loss and risk of osteoporosis. In one large study, the risk for
hip fracture for those women who consumed the most caffeine was 300% greater than it
was for the group that consumed little or no caffeine. Stress fractures have risen
dramatically in all athlete populations in recent years. This is related to calcium reduction
in diet and absorption.

You are an ATHLETE: Take the Challenge! By now you may have no idea what life is like
without the background effect of caffeine and stress hormones coursing through your
veins. Even if you're only having a few energy drinks per day, chances are your
personality is affected in ways that may be too subtle for you to associate with caffeine.
We want to encourage you to conduct a trial period without caffeine. You owe it to
yourself as an athlete.

It is hard go 'cold turkey'. To avoid headaches etc. when giving up caffeine, it is
recommended that you take up to six weeks to come off it. Each week reduce the
strength or amount in each serving. Soon you will see that the imprint caffeine had on
your abilities was not positive at all, but was simply another drug holding you back from
your true potential.

Quite simply, the use of caffeine has a price on physiological systems and their function.
It is clear that optimal physical performance depends on a highly rested CNS (Central
Nervous System).

What do you think will function better a totally rested brain and central nervous system
or a totally exhausted brain and central nervous system jacked up on stimulants?


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