The effects of caffeine on your body
Care for a cup of coffee? This is perhaps the most frequently asked question in the Netherlands. Dutch people are among the top five coffee drinkers in the world. The reason we drink so much coffee is not known, but it probably has to do with the easy availability of coffee in the Netherlands. And, of course, the delicious taste and the conviviality that goes along with it.
Coffee has positive health properties. For example, coffee brewed directly from freshly ground beans contains certain substances that can have a very strong antioxidant effect. On the other hand, coffee contains caffeine, which we should not ingest in large quantities. Anxiety, heart palpitations, stress, sleep problems and coffee dependence can be unpleasant side effects.
Happy and stressed with coffee
Caffeine stimulates the release of the stress hormone adrenaline. This makes you feel more stressed. The adrenaline stimulates the release of dopamine, which makes you feel happier. Caffeine is absorbed into your blood within 3 to 4 minutes, and its effect is greatest around 2 hours after drinking the coffee. Sleepiness decreases and concentration improves.
“The production of stress hormones always precedes the production of many other important hormones”
One to three cups of coffee a day (without sugar and milk) strengthens health, but a whole pot of coffee has no health benefits and contributes to dehydration of the body because coffee has a slight diuretic effect. This means that your kidneys produce more urine and you lose more water than usual. It’s also a good idea to avoid coffee if you are under stress. The production of stress hormones always takes precedence over the production of many other important hormones, such as those that ensure a properly functioning thyroid, healthy sleep patterns or mental well-being. Stress in combination with a large amount of coffee therefore means that these other hormones are no longer produced properly.
Does caffeine enhance performance?
During running, your muscles consume glycogen. These are carbohydrates stored in your muscles. Caffeine increases the absorption of glycogen, so your muscles can deliver more power and recover faster.
We have already read about the effect caffeine has on hormone functions. Adrenaline increases, your concentration improves and your mood improves. These factors can help to improve performance.
How much coffee can you drink?
It depends on your weight and how strong the coffee is, but you can assume about two cups of coffee. The effect is greatest one to two hours before the race.
If you don’t like coffee, there are other sources of caffeine such as chewing gum (Mark Tuitert’s First Energy Gum, for example).
We recommend a maximum of three cups per day, drunk before two o’clock in the afternoon. The caffeine in coffee takes an average of eight hours to break down, so if you stop drinking it by 2:00 pm, it will no longer affect your sleep if you go to bed at 10:00 pm. In addition, drink plenty of water or tea without sugar and sweeteners. Coffee prepared from fresh beans is preferable. This enables you to retain as many useful plant substances as possible (Graaf, T. de, 2016).