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The Surprising Reasons You Shouldn't Get Your Energy From Caffeine (And 8
Ways To Get True Energy)
Millions of people struggle with fatigue – grogginess, brain fog, lack of quality sleep or
sleep quantity, or even low physical energy for basic tasks of daily living, like going up
and down stairs or cleaning the garage. Sound familiar?
What's worse, caffeine – the most popular drug on the planet that people rely upon to
combat fatigue – has daunting side effects, including extreme addiction.
While a nice cup of coffee here and there is likely harmless, large doses, especially in
combination with the sugar and other additives you'll find in everything from carbonated
energy drinks to fancy coffee beverages at your local coffee shop, can result in caffeine
toxicity or overdose side effects.
What you're about to learn in this article will surprise you: caffeine and coffee don't
provide actual energy, but simply FAKE ENERGY.
In a nutshell, they temporarily squeeze huge amounts of adrenaline from your adrenal
glands, resulting in a longer-term drop in your energy levels and even greater dependence
on these compounds to get you through the day. How Caffeine Works To Give You "Fake Energy"
So how exactly does caffeine give you this "fake energy"?
Caffeine's primary mechanism of action is achieved via boosting the levels of the
neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine.
Dopamine affects levels of concentration by blocking adenosine receptors in your
forebrain, receptors that would normally signal your brain to be tired when it's supposed
to be tired, like at bedtime. Caffeine also increases the release of adrenaline,
which stimulates the sympathetic
nervous system to make your heart beat faster, send more blood to your muscles, and tell
your liver to release sugar into the bloodstream for energy.
And caffeine can do more than that. For example, it can help muscles contract by causing
the sarcoplasmic reticulum in muscle fibers to release calcium ions. It has been shown to
reduce the percentage of maximum exertion that any given level of exercise requires. It
also increases circulating and intracellular glucose and fatty acid availability.
Research also shows that the amount of caffeine we consume matters.
3 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight (about one to one and a half cups of
brewed coffee) appears to not produce some of the energizing effects, and as much as 6
mg/kg may be needed. That's a lot of coffee, especially for women, considering that high
caffeine consumption is linked to greater bone loss.
On the other hand, depending on
your family history, with caffeine consumption linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's
disease, Type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson's, it may feel like a bargain that works in your
However, caffeine is a highly addictive substance, and many of us crave the "fake energy" it provides and consume it in large amounts.
The problem with caffeine is that the energy it gives you is short-lived. You've no doubt
experienced the up-and-down energy swings
associated with a big cup of coffee or
energy drink. Every caffeine high is followed by a bounceback low, and typically, the
low prompts you to ingest even more caffeine.
Why Constant Coffee Decreases Your Ability To Produce Energy
So what exactly happens to your energy levels each time you drink a cup of coffee? First,
your brain sends a message to the pituitary gland, and the pituitary then releases a
hormone that tells your adrenals to produce the stress hormones adrenaline and
– which basically triggers the exact same stress response your body would use if
you were in imminent physical danger.
With just the occasional cup of coffee, your adrenals can handle this type of stimulation.
But if you are drinking many cups of coffee each day, and find yourself relying upon
coffee for any meaningful source of energy, you will find you need more and more to
"get a reaction." This isn't just a tolerance to caffeine, and can instead mean your
adrenals are weak and less able to respond to coffee.
The adrenals can become, in a
This "adrenal fatigue" action of caffeine has been demonstrated in research. In one study 600 mg dose of caffeine each day for five days.
Then, on the sixth day, they gave each subject a morning and afternoon dose of caffeine and measured the cortisol response. The subjects who had been abstaining from caffeine saw big spikes in cortisol on the sixth day. But those who had been ingesting caffeine each day saw no cortisol response at all in the morning of the sixth day, and a reduced response in the afternoon.
If you find yourself having trouble with energy levels, then giving up a morning cup of
tea or coffee, an energy drink, or a caffeinated soda might sound daunting, but it
can be a crucial part of beginning to once again create natural energy,
when combined with the other tips you'll find in this article.
How To Get Energy Without Caffeine
If you don't want the potential for adrenal fatigue, withdrawal, addiction, and the damaging "fake energy" that coffee and caffeine provide, what's the alternative?
It all comes down to understanding how your body makes true energy: energy derived from sources other than simply a surge in cortisol or adrenaline; energy derived from something other than a big dump of blood glucose from your liver in response to stress.
Your body's true energy currency is "Adenosine Triphosphate," also known as
I have a great discussion about how cells can communicate using ATP in a
Fatigue, both mental and physical, can be traced to insufficient levels of the tiny battery-
like ATP molecules, which are derived and created in the cells from food you eat. By
maintaining adequate ATP levels, you keep your true energy levels elevated and
your batteries charged.
8 Ways To Increase ATP
There are a variety of strategies for increasing ATP. Many supplements, herbs, and wild
plant extracts are traditionally used for this. For example, the adaptogenic herbs
cordyceps and ginseng both naturally increase ATP levels and energy.
is a medicinal fungi from China that has historically been used in
traditional Chinese medicine for its metabolic and energy-producing effects. The
Cordyceps fungi live on insects, and when an insect dies, it replaces the dead insect's
tissues with fungal structures.
Studies show that cordyceps can increase energy in muscle and other tissues by
increasing levels of ATP.
Cordyceps has also been demonstrated to increase both
immune cell production and heart muscle mitochondrial ATP production, and seems to
be especially effective at increasing ATP under conditions of stress.
also has a history of traditional use in China, where it is considered to have "qi-
The concept of "qi" is considered to be "energy flow" or "vital
energy," and in Chinese medicine, a deficiency of qi is associated with heart disease and
Studies show that ginseng increases ATP production in the mitochondria due to antioxidant effects. It has also been shown that ginseng activates multiple enzymes in the tricarboxylic acid cycle (Krebs cycle), enabling mitochondria to extract maximum amounts of ATP from glucose in the presence of oxygen.
Ginseng is a perfect example of how increasing ATP production and fighting fatigue involves protecting and supporting the cells' mitochondria.
In addition to including cordyceps and ginseng in your diet, here are six other strategies
to accomplish mitochondrial protection and ATP production:
1. Minimize exposure to environmental toxins
such as heavy metals, cigarette
smoke, alcohol, and processed and fatty foods.
2. Drink plenty of high quality water
, as cells require significant amounts of water
to produce ATP. Get regular exercise
to stimulate movement in your body's
3. Get enough B vitamins
, since vitamin B2 supports energy metabolism; B3 and
B6 aid in ATP production; B5 helps form mitochondrial enzymes; and B12 isessential for the delivery of oxygen to cells.
4. Include quality sources of vitamin C
. This antioxidant protects cells from
damage, which can increase ATP production.
5. Supplement with milk thistle extract
, an antioxidant shown to strengthen the
outer wall of liver cells. These cells are necessary for making and storing ATP.
6. Prioritize getting high quality sleep
. This is when a large amount of cellular
repair and ATP production occurs.
If you are one of the millions of Americans who struggle with fatigue and whose batteries seem chronically run down, I'd highly recommend you choose a safe and non-addictive energy boost, rather than relying on coffee or caffeinated energy drinks.
Sure, fatigue can sometimes be linked to an underlying illness, but often the solution is
not medical treatment or adding medications, but rather taking care of the natural
mechanisms in your body that manufacture ATP, a true source of energy.
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ELI LILLY AND COMPANY, Plaintiff-Cross Appellant, TEVA PHARMACEUTICALS USA, INC., 2010-1005, -1033 Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in case no. 06-CV-1017, Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Decided: September 1, 2010 CHARLES E. LIPSEY, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow,
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