I Love Coffee, I Love Tea

Posted by Filed Under: Health & Fitness, Nutrition, Science and Research

300px-A_small_cup_of_coffee.JPGPepsi and Coca-Cola recently announced they will soon include more specific label information on the caffeine in their beverages.. Reports suggest the vast majority of adults consume caffeinated beverages daily, particularly coffee or colas. Recreational runners most definitely are among them.

Some drink caffeinated beverages in the morning to get an energy boost or to ward off withdrawal symptoms of caffeine addiction. Some drink up first thing to stimulate a bowel movement before a run. Some hold off until just before the gun goes off to gain a competitive race edge. And an increasing number are opting for caffeine-enhanced energy drinks and gels to keep them going during endurance events.

Among caffeine’s potential benefits in exercise, according to the health Web site LifeScript:

  • It can act as an appetite suppressant, promoting weight loss.
  • It helps you be more alert.
  • It can enhance performance by sparing glycogen and using fat stores for fuel, allowing a runner to go longer.
  • It may make you feel like you are using less effort, so you’ll therefore push harder.

But there are drawbacks, too.

  • It’s a diuretic and can cause dehydration and impede normal sweating, particularly in hot weather, which can lead to dangerous health risks.
  • Too much can lead to the shakes, nausea and sleeplessness.
  • It can cause intestinal cramping, diarrhea or more frequent urination—all requiring more pit stops.

The dehydration effect varies by individual and may not be as severe as first thought, particularly when compared to other fluids. “The truth is, a moderate intake of coffee, cola and other caffeinated beverages do count towards fluid needs, particularly if you are accustomed to consuming caffeine as a part of your daily diet,” according to an article on the site Run the Planet.

Exercise experts advise those who incorporate caffeine in their training and race strategies to consume it two to three hours prior to running to avoid “coffee stomach” and unplanned bathroom breaks. If you experiment with energy drinks and gels, be sure to drink ample water to avoid dehydration, particularly in warmer weather.

About Anne

Anne’s been running for so long that when two paths diverge in the woods, not only she does she know to go for the one with the most foreboding weeds, swarms of bees and steep, rocky climbs, but she convinces everyone else to come along. Then, before people are done cursing and nursing insect bites, bloody knees and poison oak outbreaks, she’ll again run — away. She eschews a lot of the newfangled devices that are supposed to make you a better runner because she believes it’s what you put into your body, not on it, that really matters. (Footwear is the exception.) That includes proper nourishment of the mind, which we all know is what really makes the difference on the road…and the trail…and the track. At some point she started to realize that not everyone has run into an Alaskan grizzly bear, been pegged by police as a robber, lost her shorts in a major marathon, rubbed elbows with Olympians, mistaken movie stars for beach bums and watched a wildfire consume her suburb - yes, while she was on a long run. Whether it’s these unique situations, or the universal ones every recreational runner encounters, after she lives it, she loves nothing better than to write about it at Run DMZ.

  1. Jon (was) in Michigan on March 5th at 7:57 pm

    I love the java jive and it loves me
    Coffee and tea and the jivin’ an’ meeeeee

    Heh, heh. I know that song. 🙂

  2. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on March 6th at 7:47 am

    Caffeine is the devil. I have been much happier with my life since I eliminated it from my diet. I think that caffeine is worse than alcohol or tobacco in terms of it being an addictive substance and its negative effects on the body.

    I may be a bit biased, though. I grew up with cluster migraines, and caffeine is one of the catalysts for them. You go blind for 2 weeks once, or have headaches so bad that you hit your head to knock yourself unconscious because it hurts less in the long run, and you decide that you don’t really need it.

  3. Linda on March 6th at 12:34 pm

    I’ll admit I love my java, especially in the morning but I’m limiting myself these days. I’ve gone from 10 cups down to 4 and I do feel better.

  4. Anne on March 6th at 2:11 pm

    Interesting that caffeine triggered your migraines, Blaine. They were part of the cure for mine. I do agree though that it’s a highly addictive drug.

    And, Linda, 10 cups??? You must have been in the loo every 10 minutes?!

    Jon, you can thank Jeanne for the clever title. (Especially since I hate coffee….)

  5. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on March 6th at 2:43 pm


    Caffeine is a catalyst as well as a treatment. Most of the drugs that I have tested have involved caffeine in some way/shape/form. The first drug they give you to treat one in process (or used to be back in the early 90s) is a mixture of APAP, Butalbitol and caffeine. I’ve used a few with different percentages of those three basic drugs, sometimes with something else thrown in.

    These days, if I have it handy and the migraine is just starting, I will take excedrine or excedrine migraine (the expensive version of the exact same thing). Excedrine is basically a concentrated dose of ibuprofen and caffeine. It makes me feel like crap, but it is at least a more functional feeling than going blind and then having a very distracting headache. Stomach aches and vertigo are easier to deal with while I’m working.

    I’ve found that drinking a gallon or two of water per day does a better job of keeping me healthy and functional than drinking coffee.

  6. Perry on March 7th at 10:16 am

    I hate coffee too besides, I’m too young for coffee. I love tea though and drink about a gallon a day. Never had a single caffeine headache. Guess I’m lucky.

  7. billjank on March 9th at 2:00 pm

    Calm start to a saturday morning
    Odors, earthy and warm across the kitchen
    Feeling a warm mug against the cold of winter
    Feed the addiction
    Empty cups rattle around the floorboards after a week at work
    Evenings ending with decaf and steamed milk