By: Josh Sample, IF Trainer

If you enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning, you’re not alone. Caffeine is a substance that millions of people use to increase wakefulness, alleviate fatigue, and improve concentration and focus. A study conducted by H.R. Lieberman and collegues found that as little as 32 mg of caffeine, about the serving of a generic cola, and which is less than a typical cup of coffee, can significantly improve audotiry vigilance and visual reaction time. However, there is a limit as to how much caffeine we should consume a day.

A healthy adult can usually consume about 400mg of caffeine a day and be fine. To put it into perspective, that’s roughly 4 cups of coffee. Now, caffeine does not come in the form of coffee alone, but it can also come in the form of energy shots and even soda. Even among adults, heavy caffeine use can cause unpleasant side effects, and some people have a high sensitivity to caffeine. Women who are pregnant or who are trying to become pregnant and those breastfeeding should talk to their doctors about limiting caffeine use. It is also a good idea to wean off caffeine for short amounts of time, to give your body a break. However cutting back abruptly can be dangerous, so there are some tips you can use to change your caffeine habits. Paying attention on how much caffeine you’re getting can be a good idea, even writing it down. Cutting back gradually is also a good idea. Cutting “cold turkey” can often lead to migraines, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty focusing on tasks. Going decaf is also a good solution. Most decaffeinated drinks look and taste the same as their caffeinated counterparts, so you will hardly know the difference! Some over the counter pain relievers also contain caffeine, so taking caffeine-free pain relievers instead can be a good alternative.

Now, not everyone can afford to cut back on the caffeine. Luckily, there are alternative ways of getting a boost of energy! To name a simple one, exercise! In a recent study conducted by Bryan D. Loy and collegues, they looked to estimate the population effects of a single bout of energy and fatique states. What they found was quite interesting. They found that acute exercise enhanced feelings of energy! Specifically, they found that 20 minutes of low intensity exercise enhances feeling of energy and decreased feelings of fatigue. Adding a bit of cardio or a quick workout throughout your day can be quite beneficial to increasing your energy levels without having to resort to caffeine!