Lauren Rabaino

Caffeine is arguably the best drug out there. OK, so it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that some of the harder drugs have, but if we take into consideration the addiction, legality and withdrawal factors, pound for pound (or, based on my budget, gram for gram), it’s the best bang for the buck drug you can get.

Caffeine, on numerous occasions, has helped wrench me from my reoccurring day dream where I’m driving the French Riviera in James Bond’s white 1972 Lotus Esprit while listening to Bossa Nova with Akiko Wakabayashi in the front seat, and motivated me into the more practical and realistic realm of reality where I’m writing another paper.

This drug helps me arrive at school three to four times a week with a clear head and an eager spirit. When mountain biking, it helps me to push out the last hour when my stomach is empty and the heat and dehydration have me feeling lethargic and ready to quit.

But there’s more to caffeine here than my useless bantering can persuade. There are numerous scientific reasons why I consume caffeine in excess, and numerous reasons why you should too.

First of all, around 90 percent of Americans consume caffeine in one form or another every single day. More than half of all American adults consume more than 300 miligrams of caffeine every day, which roughly equates to 45 million pounds each year, making it America’s most popular drug by far. This fact allows us to be comfortable in our habit, and gives those who don’t use it the incentive to start.

Tests show that ingesting 330 miligrams (or 5 miligrams per kilograms of body weight) 30 minutes to an hour before workouts results in longer endurance, faster times, less exertion, less fatigue, and more rapid recovery – up to 30 percent better in each category. The most effective caffeine, though, is in tablet form, because more than 100 other compounds in coffee block some of the effect of caffeine.

Caffeine is well-known as a diuretic; therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that athletes might have concerns about its effects on hydration. However, several studies conclude that no changes occurred in core temperature, sweat loss, urine volume or body hydration status during exercise following caffeine ingestion.

Moreover, brain scans performed on the brains of 15 subjects who had just consumed caffeine equal to the same as that found in two cups of coffee, showed increased activity in the frontal lobe where the working memory is located and in the anterior part of the noggin which controls attention.

The study participants who were subjected to a 12-hour period without caffeine were better at remembering a sequence of letters after consuming 100 miligrams of caffeine, and their reaction times on short-term memory tests also improved.

If you feel caffeine needs to become a part of your life, or the liquid form is not satisfying your jonze like years prior, get to the point with pills or the powdered form.

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