All Posts by Robert Sikes

Caffeine Side Effects

Caffeine Side Effects

We explored all of the benefits of caffeine in our prior article.  In this post, we are going to dive into the negative caffeine side effects.  Most of the negative side effects of caffeine are a result of over consumption.  If you consume coffee/tea and other caffeinated beverages in moderation, you likely have nothing to worry about.  However, more and more people seem to be consuming caffeine in excess and these negative symptoms are becoming much more common.

caffeine

Anxiety/Insomnia

As we mentioned in the prior post, caffeine works by blocking adenosine (a chemical that makes you feel tired) and triggering the release of adrenaline (a chemical that gives you energy).  Adrenaline is what puts you in the "fight or flight" sympathetic state and allows you to perform at a high level.  However, too much adrenaline and an over stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system results in adrenal fatigue.  Your brain and body simply can't function at 100% indefinitely.  If you are over-consuming caffeine, your body won't be able to take in and process the caffeine efficiently and you'll start to feel jittery and anxious.  

This over stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system makes it increasingly difficult to switch over to the parasympathetic nervous system, also knows as the "rest and digest" state.  As a result, it can be very difficult for your body to get a restful night's sleep.  Over consumption of caffeine often leads to an inability to fall asleep and/or a lighter sleep that prohibits you from falling into deep sleep and REM sleep.  All of which hinder your body's ability to full recover and prepare itself for another day of activities.

insomnia

High Blood Pressure & Rapid Heart Rate

Due to the stimulatory effects of caffeine, over consumption can lead to a temporary rise in blood pressure and an increased heart rate.  Now, these are fairly acute symptoms of caffeine and won't likely persist after the body has regulated.  However, it's important to be conscious of these effects and titrate your intake of caffeine up slowly rather than have a massive bolus of it all at once.  If your body is not familiar with caffeine in high dosages, you're much more likely to suffer from increased blood pressure and rapid heart rate.

rapid heart rate

Digestive Upset

Coffee triggers the release of a hormone called gastrin that helps speed up activity in the colon.  Pure caffeine has also been shown to increase peristalsis, the contractions that get things moving through your digestive tract.  The ability to get things moving through your pipes can either be looked at as a positive or a negative depending on the situation.  Caffeine consumption can certainly cause movements at inopportune times so be wary of that.

Fatigue & Addiction

There is a reason caffeine is considered the worlds most widely used drug.  Everyone wants to perform at a heightened state and caffeine is available everywhere.  All you have to do is drive to your nearest Starbucks and refuel.  Before long, you'll be wide awake and ready to tackle the world.  However, all good things must come to an end...  If you are constantly using caffeine and becoming dependent on it to function, you're likely experiencing some degree of addiction.  Like most drugs, there is a point of diminishing returns.  More caffeine doesn't always equate to more energy.  In fact, chronically over consuming caffeine can have the exact opposite effect, fatigue.  Your body can't function in the sympathetic state at maximum effort forever.  Eventually, it will shut down and become unresponsive to the increased stimulants.  It's best to be proactive and combat this situation before it happens.

coffee addiction

Moderation & Sustainable Use Of Caffeine

If you are over-consuming caffeine, it would be wise to decrease your dosage and "wean" yourself off.  Doing so will reset your body's caffeine tolerance threshold and allow you to experience the beneficial effects of caffeine at a much lower dosage.  Weaning yourself off of caffeine often comes with some temporary negative side effects such as a dip in productivity, headaches, and fatigue.  It's best to gradually taper down your caffeine consumption rather than cut it out cold turkey.  It's also beneficial to supplement with L-Tyrosine while decreasing caffeine intake.  L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps stabilize dopamine production in the brain.  By keeping dopamine up-regulated, you're not as likely to experience the brain fog and dip in mental clarity that often accompanies a drop in caffeine.

It's wise to cycle completely off of caffeine from time to time.  This keeps your body adaptable and ensures that you don't become dependent on the caffeine to function.  Supplement with caffeine as needed but do so with moderation and make sure that your body is getting the proper balance of rest and recovery so that it can perform when needed.

brain

Benefits Of Caffeine

Benefits Of Caffeine

I want to dive into the benefits of caffeine in this blog post.  Caffeine often gets a bad rap because of it's addictive nature and supposed link to high blood pressure, impaired sleep, and cancer...  Caffeine as a supplement has been studied extensively for the past several years and there are apparent pros and cons.  There is always two sides to the coin so let's explore caffeine and some of the benefits we can derive from it.

coffee

What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is the world's most widely used psychoactive drug.  It belongs to the methylxanthine class and acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system.  Caffeine is related to the adenine and guanine bases of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA).  It's found naturally in many seeds, nuts, and leaves and acts as a protective mechanism to the plants it's found in.  One of the most common plants containing caffeine is the coffea plant.  The caffeine exists within the seeds of this plant, commonly referred to as coffee beans.  Caffeine is also commonly found in tea, cola, and most energy drinks and pre workout supplements.  

Benefits of caffeine

What Does Caffeine Do?

Adenosine is a chemical that all of us contain in our bodies.  It is a neuromodulator and plays a role in promoting sleep and suppressing arousal.  It also is involved in the regulation of blood flow to various organs through vasodilation.  In the absence of caffeine, the adenosine accumulates in the neuronal synapse which, in turn, bind to and activate the adenosine receptors found in the CNS neurons.  When these receptors are activated, they produce a cellular response that increases drowsiness.  When caffeine is present, it antagonizes the adenosine receptors and prevents them from activating by blocking the adenosine binding location on the receptor.  This temporarily prevents drowsiness and is the main reason why you see everyone reach for a cup of coffee upon waking or during the afternoon slump.  

Caffeine is also touted to: 

  • Give you more energy
  • Increase your mental clarity
  • Boost your sport's perfromance
  • Improve brain function
  • Enhance memory

While those all my be true, I would argue that all of those are simply a byproduct of your temporary increase in alertness.

how caffeine gives you energy

Other Benefits Of Caffeine

Another potential benefit of caffeine is it's ability to aid in fat-loss.  Now, this is up for debate but there are two fairly sound arguments.  One is that it has a satiating effect that suppresses appetite which results in a lower total caloric intake.  If consuming coffee enables you to eat at a slightly lower caloric intake and moves the energy balance towards a net negative, you could potentially lose weight.  Now, this is not to say that simply dropping calories causes fat loss, that is a whole blog topic in itself.

The other theory is that caffeine helps to stimulate thermogenesis and causes the body to generate more heat and energy.  Since caffeine is shown to increase alertness and stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, this could very well hold some truth.  However, the increased fat burning effects of consuming caffeine would pale in comparison to what could be accomplished by proper nutrition and training so don't expect caffeine to be your answer for long term body recomposition.

Apart from increased alertness and a potential increase in fat burning, caffeine has also been studied as a potential aid in...

  • Reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease
  • Reducing the risk of Parkinson's disease
  • Reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes

In Conclusion

As is true with most things in the health and nutrition world, there is much left up for debate with regard to caffeine.  For years, caffeine was frowned upon for many of its potential negative side effects (which will be the topic of another blog post).  However, with the current research, I do not see any overwhelming need to avoid caffeine.  Like most things, use it as a tool in moderation.  Don't rely on caffeine as a crutch to make it through the day-to-day.  I personally supplement with 120mg - 240mg of caffeine per day, generally prior to training.  There was a time when I consumed significantly more than that until I began to notice a dependency on the drug and realized I had to scale it back.  Now, I can quit coffee entirely if I decided to do so and I wouldn't suffer any negative consequences.  Addiction to anything is bad.  Use it strategically and benefit from the positive effects of caffeine.

Reverse Dieting

Reverse Dieting

Reverse Dieting, what is it exactly?  According to the internet, reverse dieting is gaining weight without rapidly gaining fat to allow your metabolism to gradually improve and adjust to a higher intake of calories.  I'd say that is a pretty fair definition of the word but I want to take a moment and flesh it out in much greater detail.  Why??  Because NOT taking the time to reverse out of a diet is one of the most common and most damaging mistakes I see in the health and nutrition space.  I have to assume that this mistake is made out of ignorance.  I hope to shed some light on the topic and at least offer my stance on the concept of reverse dieting.

reverse dieting

Who Needs Reverse Dieting?

In my opinion, everyone who has dieted down, dropped their calories, gone through a competition prep, chronically under eaten, struggled with eating disorders, struggled with their weight, doesn't have a high metabolism, or wants to know more about their body and how to optimize it with regards to their nutrition.  So, basically, everyone!  I'm sure either you or someone you know fits this description perfectly...

You're not happy with the way you look, you're holding a bit of extra fat.  You decide to do something about it and watch what you eat.  The best way to lose weight is eat less right?  So, that's exactly what you do.  You start dropping your calories bit by bit week after week.  Or, you take a much more aggressive approach and slash your calories significantly to help jumpstart things.  Before long, you're living on iceberg lettuce and miracle noodles and constantly starving.  You're not eating hardly anything and confused with why you're not dropping some serious pounds.  Sure sure, you may have lost a few lbs initially but not near as much as you would like.  You're still nowhere near your goal except now, you're hungry ALL the time!  You convince yourself that it's ok to overindulge a bit for one meal because heck, why not.  The iceberg lettuce diet isn't working anyways so what do you have to lose???  The next thing you notice, that one binge turns into two, then five, then a daily occurrence.  Before long, you're fatter than when you started and you have no idea what to do next!  Guess what, you should have reverse dieted 😉

In short, anytime you decrease your caloric intake, your body's metabolism is going to slow down.  That's not even a bad thing, it's just a thing.  It happens to the best of us so don't fret it.  However, learn to deal with it correctly.  Your body is smart, it's evolved to survive.  If you're consuming less energy, it only makes sense to down regulate your body's internal thermostat.  That is the best way of ensuring you don't die.  Your body is resilient, you can push it much harder than you may realize.  For this reason, it's ok to drop your metabolism a bit temporarily.  I literally do this every single time I go through a competition prep.  I drop my calories and my metabolism follows suite.  However, it's equally as important to ramp up your metabolism after the dieting is over. 

under eating

When To Start Reverse Dieting

Like most things in the nutritional world, this is going to vary from individual to individual.  I personally recommend transitioning into a reverse diet immediately following a competition prep, a 90 day cut program like DSK, any kind of caloric deficit protocol really.  If you are chronically under eating I also recommend starting a reverse diet.  Now, I would be remiss if I didn't include a little blurb on how long a cutting protocol should last.  That also depends on the individual but I don't typically recommend staying in a caloric deficit for more than about 5 or 6 months.  Now, there are some outliers such as people that are incredibly overweight BUT, make no mistake, it's still not optimal for them to be chronically under eating.  What if 5 or 6 months passes and you still haven't reached your goal???  I still recommend transitioning into a reverse diet and then returning to your goal after your metabolism has had a chance to recover.  If you are going through a "cut" the right way and gradually tapering your calories as needed, you're going to eventually run out of macros.  If you continue dropping calories well beyond what is healthy or sustainable, your metabolism is basically going to shut down and you're not going to make any headway towards losing bodyfat.  In fact, your body is going to fight you and work to store as much food as it can as bodyfat because it's afraid it won't get any more caloric energy.  This is why chronically dropping calories beyond a healthy limit can do so much more harm than good. 

when to start reverse dieting

How To Reverse Diet

If you've gone through the Deeper State Keto course then you're familiar with the "Off-boarding" phase.  Off-boarding is basically the same concept of reverse dieting.  For those that haven't gone through off-boarding, let me explain how I recommend reversing out of a caloric deficit.  Before I do though, let me forewarn you...reverse dieting will very likely result in an increase on the scale.  WHAT??!!!  I know, I know, crazy right.  Why would you want to do something that is going to move you farther away from that lower weight you've been striving for.  Well, because it's absolutely necessary!  Body recomposition is a marathon, not a sprint.  You are playing the long game here.  Sacrifice a slight increase on the scale to reach the goal in the end.  If you've been dieting down for long, your body is going to assume food isn't readily available and it's going to store any surplus you give it.  This is why you can expect a slight increase in weight in the beginning.  However, after a time of caloric increase, your body will recognize that food is no longer scarce and it won't be as likely to store it as bodyfat.  That is when things start improving.  Just as decreasing your caloric intake results in a slower metabolism, increasing your caloric intake leads to a faster metabolism.  

However, this doesn't mean go out and eat everything in sight.  I recommend you take a strategic approach to your reverse dieting just as you took towards your actual dieting.  Keep the foods clean and make small, incremental changes.  Generally speaking, you can be slightly more aggressive with the reverse diet than you were with the depletion diet.  Try and increase by 50 to 150 calories week after week depending on how your body responds.  If you start to notice adverse effects, take a slightly more conservative approach.  

This increase in caloric intake is adding more fuel to the furnace.  Put that furnace to use.  Train harder, eat more, and reap the benefits of a healthier metabolism.  No matter what diet you're on, chronic under eating and long term caloric deficits are damaging to your hormones and your metabolism.  Make sure you emphasize the reverse diet and give your body time to recover and improve it's foundation.  

boost your metabolism

The Sustainability Of Reverse Dieting

In all honesty, reverse dieting is what makes dieting sustainable in the first place.  You couldn't possibly stay in a caloric deficit indefinitely, your hormones would tank, your metabolism would shut down, your performance would plummet, eventually....you could die.  Rather than fight your body, work with it.  It's healthy to cycle your caloric intake.  Leverage periods of healthy caloric depletion to shed body fat and improve your composition.  Be excited about the opportunity to eat more and reverse out of that deficit to improve your metabolism and hormones.  If you so choose, enjoy the maintenance intake for a bit and focus on other areas of your life that need attention.  If done properly, going through these different phases is incredibly sustainable.  Each time you cycle through, your composition and metabolic baseline will improve.  You can consistently be moving the needle forward in the long game of life.  Don't think shortsightedly and damage the only body you have.  Play the long game and win!

If you're interested, below is a video I made for my YouTube video that illustrates some of these concepts.

If you're interested in working with me directly, check out my coaching HERE