One of the most commonly used performance enhancing drugs in the world – coffee. It’s used by many vocations and has been fueling the progress of the Western society. Because of that, it also has its side-effects that can doom those who misuse this beverage. This is a tutorial on how to drink coffee effectively like a strategic genius.
Why Do People Drink Coffee?
Besides the great taste, it also has a ton of benefits to it. Long-term consumption of caffeine in the form of coffee is associated with cognitive enhancements (1), reduced risk for type-2 diabetes (2), Alzheimer’s (3) and Parkinson’s (4).
Caffeine travels to the brain and blocks a neurotransmitter called Adenosine. As a result, norepinephrine and dopamine actually increase, which hastens the firing rate of neurons (5). Drinking coffee is probably one of the most widespread brain power enhancers used by scientists and other vocations, such as writers or doctors, that demand a lot of cognitive output for long periods of time.
Coffee beans have a lot of antioxidants, called quinines, that fight disease and clean the body. After the roasting process, they become even more potent. They also contain naturally a lot of magnesium.
Is Coffee Bad for You?
What about the costs? Are there any negative side-effects?
You’ve probably seen people who have become addicted to coffee. It’s a dreadful sight – their hands are jittering and they have anxiety. The reason is that they have simply taken advantage of caffeine the wrong way.
For the wide majority of people, it’s safe. However, additional side-effects can be insomnia, upset stomach, increased heart rate and blood pressure.
In my opinion, caffeine should be used only in certain situations when you actually need a boost. It’s just that – a performance enhancing stimulant that gives us the right amount of energy for whatever the task might be.
There’s a much healthier way to drink coffee effectively, which I’m about to share with you, that circumvents most of those issues.
The Best Time to Drink Coffee
For the ordinary person, drinking coffee immediately after waking up is the only thing that gets them going. They open their eyes, roll out of the bed and have to crawl to get their dose of java ASAP. But those are first signs of dependence and overdosing.
It’s not the ideal time to be consuming caffeine either. Coffee acts as a stimulant for the body that triggers some physiological processes. Our biology is already connected with the planetary movements and circadian rhythms.
Between the hours of 8-9 AM, our cortisol levels are at their peak (6). It’s the “fight or flight” hormone, that rises in the morning so that we would have increased alertness and focus. We’re already supposed to be fully alert and energized after waking up. So, if we simultaneously drink coffee, we’re wasting the potential benefits of caffeine and offsetting the circadian rhythm.
The best time to drink coffee is between 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM. Cortisol peaks in the early morning, but also fluctuates during the day. Other times it rises are 12 PM – 1 PM and 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM, so avoid a cup of joe at those hours as well.
Drink Coffee Can’t Sleep
Drinking coffee at the wrong time can also keep you up and prevents you from falling asleep completely. You won’t be able to get a good night’s sleep and because of that wake up groggy and tired, you immediately grab another cup and the perpetual cycle continues.
The half-life of caffeine is about 5.7 hours (7), which means that if you drink coffee at 12 PM, then 50% of it will still be in your system at 6 PM. According to the circadian rhythm, the best time to go to bed is at about 9-11 PM. You should be sound asleep before midnight, because that’s when the most growth hormone gets released.
Ingesting caffeine in the evening will definitely keep you up at night. That’s why you should stop drinking coffee after 2-4 PM in the afternoon.
Are You a Fast Oxidizer or a Slow One
But some people don’t report these issues. They can drink coffee even just a few hours before going to bed and still fall asleep just fine. What gives?
Our metabolism differs between individuals and we have our own unique type, which makes us metabolize nutrients at different speeds.
The fast oxidizer is someone who digests food very quickly and converts it into energy rapidly. They need to focus on eating heavier meals with more fat and protein that would keep them satiated. By the same token, they will also absorb caffeine that much faster and it will go through their system almost at an instant.
If you’re a slow oxidizer, then you need more time to convert food into energy. Because of that, you require more carbohydrates, rather than protein and fat. Getting the benefits of coffee will also be less rapid.
How Much Coffee Should You Drink
An average cup of coffee contains 100-150 mg of caffeine, but you won’t get the full benefits from just one cup.
Consuming caffeine in small but frequent amounts is more advantageous. The optimal dose for cognitive functioning may be 20-200 mg per hour (8).
Small hourly doses can support extended wakefulness, by acting against the homeostatic sleep pressure, which builds up slowly throughout the day (9) and benefits the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for higher executive functions (10).
Doses of 600 mg are often comparable to the effects of modafinil, which is a top notch nootropic and cognitive enhancer. It’s a smart drug but there are no reported advantages over large amounts of caffeine.
- For headaches or boosting alertness: 250 mg, or 2 cups per day.
- For preventing Parkinson’s: 3 to 4 cups.
- For preventing type-2 diabetes: 900 mg, or 6 cups.
To avoid any unwanted side-effects, use filtered coffee. Darker roasts have less caffeine in them, due to the roasting process.
What Tasks Benefit the Most From Coffee
Drinking coffee won’t make you a bad person, quite the opposite. There are also a lot of mood enhancing benefits that will make you more enjoyable to be around. Napoleon Bonaparte said: “The only good thing about St Helena is the coffee.”
The famous French philosopher of the Enlightenment Voltaire was said to be consuming about 40-50 cups of coffee a day. Given what he accomplished with his writings, it’s safe to say that this “black gold” will definitely help us to become a high performing individual.
However, caffeine works best for only some activities. It may increase our attention span, the speed at which we work, prevent us from getting side-tracked, and may even benefit recall, but it’s less likely to improve more complex cognitive functions.
Like with modafinil, you only get better at what you’re already good at. You can’t expand upon your existing cognitive limitations. The actual benefit you get is just more energy and alertness. In fact, it may actually harm tasks of higher executive functioning, such as creativity or problem solving, because large doses of caffeine may wire us up and cause shivers.
Use caffeine to rush through the repetitive activities that require a lot of micromanagement and aren’t too difficult. This way you’ll waste less time doing the small stuff and can free up more space for focusing on what’s more important. With or without coffee depends on your own decision.
Drink Coffee During Working Out
Once you take your first zip of the day, you can immediately feel your energy levels rising. This happens because your body will release more adrenaline and dopamine.
What ensues is lipolysis, which is the conversion of stored body fat into energy. However, the increased use of free fatty acids is reported to happen only in low carb/high fat diets (11). Caffeine may be less useful on a high carb one (12).
At the same time, coffee will still increase your metabolic rate and has other physical performance enhancing effects. Caffeine has a positive impact on muscular contraction and fatigue, which makes it a great tool for training.
Should you drink coffee before or after workout?
When it comes to performance, then drinking a larger dose of caffeine 15-30 minutes earlier will yield some great results. Zipping on some beverage intra-workout is also viable. Even more, post-workout caffeine can also help to refuel muscles and increase fat burning (13).
How to Drink Coffee Effectively Without Getting Addicted
As great as the benefits of caffeine are, we shouldn’t overdose it by any means. Consuming it daily will increase our body’s tolerance to it, which eventually leads to the receptors in our brain to becoming resistant to coffee. After some time, it stops working and we need a lot more to get the same effect.
Theodore Roosevelt drank a gallon of coffee a day. His son said that the president’s mug was “more on the side of a bathtub.” Even though the amounts consumed by Teddy and Voltaire might sound encouraging, don’t try to drink as much as them.
Herein lies the point where people get addicted to coffee. They simply have developed a resistance towards caffeine and don’t even feel like they’ve consumed it. To keep themselves awake, they reach out for another cup, crash and burn, and get another one, while getting stuck in the vicious cycle again.
To prevent that from happening, you have to habitually cycle off caffeine. For at least 1 week of the month you should allow your body’s receptors to reset and become sensitive again. Another option would be to drink coffee only on days where you most need it, say during a hard workout or while doing repetitive tasks.
This doesn’t mean you can’t drink coffee everyday. You can. Simply swap out the caffeinated version with decaf. The taste is the same and you can get almost all of the benefits. If not the increased energy, then at least you’ll still use it as an antioxidant and a mood enhancer.
What to Combine Coffee With
The effects of caffeine will also depend on what else is in your system at that time. Your metabolic type will already influence your rate of absorption but other nutrients will do so as well.
There are some benefits to consuming caffeine with glucose, which may improve cognition not seen with either alone (13). Additionally, grapefruit juice can keep caffeine levels in the bloodstream for longer (14). If you’re a slow oxidizer, then you may find adding these ingredients useful.
If you’re a fast oxidizer, then adding sugar will only hasten your downfall. You may get an immediate boost, but that short high will be followed by a steep low. To not crash and burn, you can add fat into the mix.
Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Coffee is probably the latest coffee drinking trend. Is it hype or does it actually work? Probably some of both. Adding butter to your cup of joe will definitely have some positive effects. It decreases the rate of absorption, gives you long-lasting energy, keeps you satiated for hours and tastes incredible. Whatever the case might be, you should try it.
Empowered Coffee Recipe
Inspired by that, I’ve also created my own version of Bulletproof Coffee, kudos to Dave. Principally, it’s almost the same but is slightly more complex and has its own twist to it. Because I’m a fast oxidizer, I would only set myself up for failure by adding sugar.
Here’s how to do it.
- 1 whole egg
- 1 tbsp of cinnamon, ginger and turmeric
- ¼ tbsp. of pink or sea salt
- A dash of Cayenne pepper for that extra kick
- 1 tsp of coconut flakes and Chia seeds
- 1 tbsp of raw cacao, sea kelp and Chaga mushroom powder
- Black coffee
You put all the ingredients into a big cup, the size of about 200-300 ml, pour in the coffee and blend it all together. This beats up the egg and leaves an amazing froth on the top. It’s like Starbucks, but it’s healthy and fat burning.
The combination of those ingredients gives me more positive effects, other than the mental sharpness. Turmeric, ginger and cinnamon are one of the greatest anti-inflammatory compounds in the world. Cacao and Chaga are powerful antioxidants and kelp powder promotes thyroid health.
This recipe is the healthiest way of drinking coffee. You can use it on both the caffeinated and the decaf version. It tastes as great.
Drink Coffee Effectively Like a Strategic Genius to Become One
With all of that information, you should know how to use coffee for what it truly is meant to be – a performance enhancing beverage that will boost your physical and mental powers.
Here are the concluding remarks.
- Don’t drink coffee first thing in the morning or between 6 and 9 AM. Let your natural rise in cortisol wake you up and kickstart your day. If you feel tired, have a cold shower instead. Shocking…I know.
- Drink coffee between 9:30 and 11:30 AM or 1 and 2 PM.
- Don’t drink large doses of caffeine after 4 PM.
- Use caffeine as a means of increasing the speed at which you cut through repetitive monotonous tasks.
- Use caffeine before working out to give you more energy and adrenaline.
- Cycle between caffeinated and decaf coffee. Once a month go at least 1 week without consuming caffeine.
Follow these principles and you’ll set yourself up for long term success. Drink coffee effectively like a strategic genius and you’ll eventually become one by reaping all of the benefits you get.
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