Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Caffeine Might Make You Weak... A Meatheads Perspective

Before I go and offend all of those people who just sit in coffee shops all day on their laptops typing, well, whatever the hell they are typing, consider this:

If you are a coffee drinker, whether it be just a cup a day or if you are that guy that downs about 50 of those torpedo sized Monster's a day, then you might have a slight caffeine addiction. Wanna test it out? Don't drink or eat anything that contains caffeine for a week. You'll know you have a problem when you wake up day two and look/feel like this little guy:

Top 10 Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms

1.Headache- A caffeine headache usually starts behind the eyes and then moves up the front of the head.

2.Sleepiness- This just isn’t your normal tiredness, this is sitting up straight but still can’t keep your eyes open tiredness.

3.Irritability- Everyone and everything gets on your last nerve. It’s best just to lock yourself in your room during this stage.

4.Lethargy- Forget about productivity at this stage because you’ll be unmotivated to do anything.

5.Constipation- Caffeine stimulates the bowel, so without its daily does the colon gets a little cranky too.

6.Depression- Caffeine withdrawal can take away all hope for living. Temporary blues are one thing, but if you already struggle with depression this could be a big issue.

7.Muscle Pain/Stiffness- If you normally have some caffeine prior to exercise then during caffeine withdrawal you could feel as though your muscles have weights strapped to them.

8.Lack of Concentration- Forget school, studying, brain surgery, or jet engine repair during this stage of withdrawal.

9.Flu-like symptoms- Stuffy nose, blocked sinuses and even vomiting have been reported by people withdrawing from caffeine.

10.Insomnia- Some people are strange and actually can’t sleep when going through caffeine withdrawal.

I stole this list from some "hippy" website that I was accidentally reading one day. As you can see, I highlighted the only important side effect mentioned. "Muscle Pain/Stiffness." Instead of just reading that and thinking, "Oh, that's a bad thing," I really wanted to figure out why that happens... and the answer is terrifying.

Don't get me wrong, caffeine has some serious positive effects on sports performance, and normal life as well. Increased focus, glycogen (energy) sparing during exercise, increased lipolysis (fat transport and usage, i.e. mechanism for getting ripped, bro) are just a few of the upsides to caffeine ingestion. How do these ergogenic effects actually happen though? The answer, and problem, is caffeine's interaction with calcium.

Quick little physiology lesson: Calcium is stored, basically, in two places in your body. Your bones and your muscles. Calcium in the muscles is responsible for signalling the binding of actin to myosin (contractile untis of muscle) once an action potential is received from the nervous system (through the synaptic cleft which is were the muscle and nerve come together, but the don't actually touch). This shortens a muscle and causes movement. Just so you get an idea of how complicated the human body is, the action I just described happens every time you move any part of your body. Just imagine the amount of nervous activity that is occurring next time you send a text or update your facebook status. "OMGZ! My synapses are going banAnAs!!! ROFL."

Anyway, more calcium available in the muscle=more efficient muscle contraction. Calcium is, unfortunately, caffeine sensitive. When calcium interacts with caffeine it switches the body into a hypersensitive "fight or flight" state. Hence the jitters when you drink too much and the Roid Rage when you don't drink any. The good news is the calcium is protected by a trap door protein called Ryanodine... the bad news its that it is sensitive to caffeine too and explodes open like a broken fire hydrant when caffeine is in the system.

I am not anti coffee or caffeine by any means. As I type this now, I am shotgunning Venti black coffees and chewing espresso flavored gum. Just wanted to share some thoughts on a topic that hasn't really been discussed too much. So, if you do ingest a lot of caffeine before the gym, work, preschool, or performing brain surgery, don't be surprised if you turn into this guy if you have a day without your bitter, dark, muscle gas:

Sprint. Kill. Eat. Get All Jittery. Then Go Be A Butthead At A Terrible Commercial Gym.