I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with caffeine.
The love part is easy to understand. Who doesn’t enjoy feeling more alert and focused? Exactly. No one.
My favorite way to get my caffeine fix was always coffee - preferably, with some version of a non-dairy milk. But honestly, with the exception of those nasty energy drinks, I’d take it however I could find it. Coffee, fancy lattes, chocolate, teas, and I admit, soda. Nothing was off limits when searching for a jolt of energy. Please, hold your judgements.
Caffeine has taken me through improperly fueled workouts, helped with all night study sessions during college, and taken me through brutal work deadlines. It’s also brought me down. Like, way down which is something you also probably relate to.
We’ve all experienced that extreme slump that happens a few hours after consuming our favorite caffeinated beverage. It’s the worst and unfortunately, drinking more caffeine is not the remedy.
YOUR BRAIN ON CAFFEINE
A lot of people think that caffeine gives energy but that’s a falsehood. At least, nutritionally speaking.
As famed nutritionist Keri Glassman mentioned in an interview with Well + Good, “the only thing that can provide energy is calories.”
So, why do you feel keyed up when you have a red eye or black tea? Caffeine! Duh.
Caffeine is a stimulant and engages your central nervous system. It increases your heart rate and speeds up your metabolism. It even kicks your excretory functions into high gear, which is why we tend to feel the call of the bathroom shortly after consuming something that has it.
But what really makes caffeine unique is how it engages parts of the brain. It’s similar to a molecule called adenosine, which is responsible for helping us relax. When we eat something like chocolate or drink a soda, the adenosine receptors in our brain mistake the caffeine for the molecule and grab hold.
This poses two problems, the first being that the actual molecule can’t be received. The second issue is that this triggers the brain to produce more receptors, resulting in even more adenosine in our system. When the effects of caffeine wear off (usually within a few hours), we feel zonked. If we reach for another coffee or cola to perk up, it will take even more of the substance to experience the same effect because there are more molecule receptors to fill.Now that you know how you went from drinking one innocent cup of coffee to twelve, here is why it matters.
MORE THAN A CAFFEINE CRASH
Although a stimulant, caffeine is relatively harmless in moderate doses. It even has some health benefits. Some include:
- Reducing muscle pain post workout
- Helping athletic performance by replenishing muscle glycogen when paired with carbohydrates
- Promoting brain health 
- Lowering risk of certain cancers
Plus, it helps us stay awake!
But after consuming 500-600 mg (there’s about 95mg in an 8-ounce cup of coffee) those benefits go south. On the less alarming side, consuming too much caffeine can leave one feeling restless, jittery, nauseous, and unable to sleep.
On the scarier side, if you have an anxiety disorder or smoke, your body may metabolize the stimulant faster, making it easier to pass your natural caffeine threshold. And unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing what that threshold actually is, because everyone reacts to the substance differently. While some will be wired after a single espresso, there are others who will be able to drink teas and soft drinks till bed with no problem.
But of course, it is a problem.
As we’ve already illustrated, too much caffeine throws adenosine levels out of whack. Along with messing with your body’s natural homeostasis it can trigger headaches, irregular heartbeat, and even ringing in the ear. When the caffeine crash happens (and you know it will), you can look forward to being irritable, unfocused, groggy or straight up exhausted.
HOW TO AVOID THE CAFFEINE CRASH
Avoiding the feeling that you just ran headfirst into a wall is actually easy. It also doesn’t require you to completely eradicate caffeine from your life.
To dodge the dreaded caffeine crash, remember these tips.
If you want to be sustainably energized you’ll need an actual energy source. And no, the double venti mint chocolate frap isn’t the best option.
Besides not being an actual nutrient, not all sources of caffeine are equal. If you’re noshing on candy bars or chugging colas, you’re not only setting yourself up for a crash but a spike in blood sugar. Sure, you’ll fly high for an hour, but then you’ll hit the ground. Hard.
Since caffeine is a stimulant it can also upset your stomach, especially when empty. All the more reason to eat something substantial that your body can actually use. Carbohydrates (the complex kind) is the body’s preferred energy source. If you pair them with protein and a healthy fat, you’ll not only feel revved up, but remain that way much longer than if you only had a cup of green tea.
There are many energizing foods to pick from but if you need some ideas, try having a slice of sprouted grain toast with almond butter and hemp seeds sprinkled on top. Another great option is water packed tuna on a bed of leafy salad greens with a splash of olive or avocado oil.
GET MORE SLEEP
One of the best ways to not be dependent on caffeine for alertness is to give your body rest. That’s easier when you’re not drinking caffeinated beverages late into the evening.
Adenosine levels naturally fluctuate throughout the day. According to experts, if you don’t want to interfere with their process, caffeine should be avoided after 2pm. While this may sound extreme, just know it takes up to 6 hours for it to work its way out of your system. The earlier you pull the plug on consumption, the quicker you’ll be able to relax come bedtime.
SWITCH TO MUSHROOM COFFEE
If you can’t fathom making it through the 3pm without a cup of Joe, this part is for you.
Mushroom coffee is the bees knees! In terms of taste, it’s virtually indistinguishable from the regular kind. It also promotes real energy and has other health benefits. Allow me to explain.
Mushroom coffee is a blend of ground medicinal mushrooms and coffee. Medicinal mushrooms are adaptogens, which means they have properties that make your body naturally more resilient to internal and environmental stressors.
The medicinal mushrooms found in our Mushroom Coffee can:
- Decrease anxiety
- Increase stamina
- Promote sleep & improve sleep quality
- Boost the immune system
- Strengthen mental focus
- Increase libido
It’s easy to forget but the human body is like a delicate ecosystem. When overworked or lacking adequate nutrients it quickly becomes susceptible to fatigue and illness. Unlike stimulants, medicinal mushrooms have compounds that engage with different body systems and their hormones. Over time, they make our systems stronger and more adaptable (hence the term adaptogen) to negative stimuli, whether it comes in the form of a killer work week or a cold germ being passed around the office.
Most mushroom blends (like ours) contain a variety of species that work together to strengthen biological functions that have been thrown off balance through stress. Most importantly, because they’re nootropics (a fancy term for medicinal or “super” foods), they provide vital nutrients. They won’t make you crash and encourage an overproduction of anything. In short, they’re sort of amazing and are a relatively simple way to promote health and wellbeing.
Although mushroom coffee contains caffeine, the alkaline nature of the mushrooms neutralizes the coffee’s acidity and inhibits some of the negative side effects of the stimulant. It also gives your coffee brew a smoother and richer taste.
Because mushroom coffee and blends are adaptogenic you’ll feel more alert and focused. This may lead to you reaching for caffeinated beverages less as your body becomes better at utilizing its own energy.
Dehydration can lead to feelings of lethargy and if you didn’t know, caffeine is very dehydrating. In fact, it’s one of the reasons the crash feels so bad. The best solution for this is to drink water and plenty of it.
Experts recommend aiming for 11 cups a day to steer clear of crashing and burning. If you find drinking plain H2O boring, try spicing it up with slices of lemon, lime, or cucumber. Switching between flat and sparkling is another way to keep things interesting. And remember, eating fruits, some vegetables and drinking juices can up our hydration level too.
Moderation is key. And not just in overall consumption, but when you choose to consume. To prevent a caffeine crash, avoid downing caffeinated beverages back to back. Instead of having two cups of coffee as soon as you wake, save one to enjoy at lunch time. This way you’re not bombarding your system with the stimulate and forcing it to produce more adenosine to compensate.
What are your thoughts on caffeine? Can you live without it or is it a must have? Let us know in the comments or on Instagram @ryzesuperfoods.
Shop RYZE Mushroom Coffee below. 6 functional mushrooms (Cordyceps, Lion's Mane, Reishi, Shiitake, Turkey Tail, King Trumpet), MCT, Arabica Coffee. No additives. No sweeteners. Gluten-Free, Vegan, Non-GMO.