Ep. 19: Caffeine 101

By: Cassy Joy Garcia
Fed & Fit
Fed & Fit

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The Fed+Fit Podcast | Nurturing a Healthy Mindset for a Healthy Lifestyle

We're back with our 19th episode of the Fed+Fit Podcast! Remember to check back every Monday for a new episode and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

Find us HERE on iTunes and be sure to “subscribe.”

Episode 19 Topics:

  • Sign up for my Newsletter to hear about enrollment in the next Fed+Fit Project HERE!
  • Sources of caffeine
  • How our bodies process caffeine
  • Health benefits & dangers
  • My Caffeine Challenge for YOU!
  • PS. Who loves orange soda?

We would LOVE some feedback, so feel free to leave a review in iTunes, comment below, or even give us a shout on social media!

Ep. 19: Caffeine 101

This is the Fed and Fit podcast starting your week off with motivational thoughts on real food and fun fitness activities with Cassy Joy Garcia and co-host, Charissa Talbot. Remember our disclaimer; the information and opinions shared in this podcast are solely those of any given individual, and not a substitute for medical advice. Here are the ladies.

Today we’re going to talk about where caffeine comes from, what happens in your body when you consume it, health benefits plus some potential dangers, and my caffeine challenge for you.

1. Updates from Cassy [1:29]
2. Updates from Charissa [4:00]
3. Where does caffeine come from? [11:02]
4. How does caffeine work in our bodies? [21:40]
5. Perceived health benefits of coffee [28:27]
6. Potential dangers of caffeine [29:59]
7. To caffeinate or not to caffeinate [35:06]
8. Cassy’s caffeine challenge [37:56]

Cassy Joy : Good morning Charissa!

Charissa Talbot : Good morning, Cassy!

Cassy Joy : How are you today?

Charissa Talbot : I’m great. I’ve got my cold brew coffee in my hand, drinking it, enjoying it.

Cassy Joy : Oh, that’s lovely. Mine’s already in my belly. {Laughs}

Charissa Talbot : Gotcha.

Cassy Joy: I’ve moved on to water.

Charissa Talbot: Beat me to the punch.

1. Updates from Cassy [1:29]

Cassy Joy: Yes. I’m so excited to get to the meat of the conversation today. We get to put on our fun science hats, and that’s going to be really thrilling. But before we get to that, I would like to talk a little bit about some girl talk. Did you hear the new intro music for the podcast?

Charissa Talbot: Right? How amazing is that?

Cassy Joy: Isn’t it so stinking cute?

Charissa Talbot: It’s very Texas, which is fitting.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Texas/maybe one day Nashville.

Charissa Talbot: Right.

Cassy Joy: If you're curious, that lovely harmonica ditty, I have to give credit to my sister, Kimberly Dunn, and if you liked it, you can find her on iTunes and Spotify and all the music outlets. She’s great. She’s got some awesome tunes out there, and that ditty is from one of her songs called Common as the Rain. Anyways, wanted to give a shout out to Kimberly; thanks for providing us with some music!

Charissa Talbot: Thank you Kimberly, we love you!

Cassy Joy: So next up, I wanted to quickly touch on this. I wanted to give a shout out to the May group for my Fed and Fit project. As per the usual, these people are totally blowing me away. The nature of this project, the self study, is that it takes on a life of its own, when you really jump into the material, and you start really digging into the journaling process, people come up with their own realizations, and that’s the purpose of it. We’re on day, we’re in our first week I guess of the project, and folks are already having these amazing revelations, and it’s just blowing me away. I’m so excited for it.

I’m going to actually announce the next group, the June group, open enrollment for that will start on this weeks’ newsletter. So if you’re interested, keep an eye on the newsletter, and I’m going to open it for just a couple of weeks, and then enrollment is closed for the next month. So if this is something that interests you, keep an eye on your newsletter. And if you do not get my newsletter, you can easily sign up for it via my website. This little red box on the right-hand side of the website that says sign up for the real food truth newsletter, and I will occasionally send you really fun information packed articles similar to the content of today’s podcast, and then you’ll also get those insider invitations to things that are going on.

Anyways, that is all of my girl talk, Charissa. What is going on in your neck of the woods?

2. Updates from Charissa [4:00]

Charissa Talbot: Well, last time we recorded I was sitting in a very empty space that didn’t have anything in it but a little table and a little desk I had set up, an outdoor table and desk actually because I had nothing in here. But now I am all moved into my new place, I am unpacked, I am organized, and it just feels good. I do not work well in unorganized, chaotic spaces, so this week has been a challenge because it’s like still trying to get all my work hours in, and then when I’m not working, I was trying to get everything unpacked and organize so I could work even more efficiently. I added a big sigh of relief the other day because it’s finally done, everything’s in its “place”, and yes, I a little type A when it comes to that stuff.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Nothing wrong with that. I completely understand it. We moved into our house about a year ago now, and it’s interesting. A friend of mine was an interior decorator for a spell, and is still very talented and has an eye for that. His name is Steven, and if he’s listening, which would actually surprise me, shout out!

Charissa Talbot: Hey Steven!

Cassy Joy: Hey Steven! Steven once told me when it came to decorating because I was a little overwhelmed at the idea of decorating a whole house. I was like, how does everything go together? And he always told me, he says if you just choose things that you like, then eventually it will all go together and it will make sense when it’s all done. I didn’t really, it’s kind of jumping in with blind faith. It’s like, well I like this table, and I like those chairs. You know, and you just put them together, and low and behold, your taste actually is its own signature vision. And I’m now at the stage where, a year later, things are finally starting to slowly come into view of their own style. And it’s so fun! So anyways, I say this because it’s pretty much the exact opposite, I think, of where you’re at.

Charissa Talbot: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: It’s taken me a year to almost get to that stage, but you know.

Charissa Talbot: Yeah. Well, when you lived in a one room studio, this is the thing. And it felt so good; I had all my stuff in a storage unit in Houston, because I moved to Austin a year and a half ago with just what would fit in my car. So I left my “life” in a storage unit in Houston, and I brought it all here, and it felt so good to Goodwill almost all of it. It just made me feel like, you know what, I’ve been living without this stuff for a year and a half, and most of it I didn’t even need anymore. A lot of it was just kind of stuff I was hanging on to.

So I am happy to have all of my friends back with me; i.e. all of my books. I have way too many, but that’s something I wasn’t willing to purge. So, the nice thing I found about living in a small space is it kind of forces you to stay really organized and it forces you to not keep as much stuff or things around, and it feels really good. I’m really enjoying it, and I think this is a good step towards me actually owning a tiny home one day, which I want to do, and this is kind of like an in between. So I feel like it’s a good place to start.

Cassy Joy: Nice!

Charissa Talbot: Kind of feel that out, you know, the small living. And I don’t mind having everything n one room, it’s kind of nice. Let me tell you, the walk to the fridge is really short when you get a craving.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Charissa Talbot: It’s awesome. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Well good. That’s great, I’m excited for you. I love living in succinct places. I don’t know, for whatever reason it feels so homey and lovely. So that’s great. Congratulations.

Charissa Talbot: Thanks. Thanks.

Cassy Joy: Yes.

Charissa Talbot: Well that’s all my girl talk. I’m excited for our topic today, and we have so much information to go over.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Charissa Talbot: I.e. Cassy has so much to tell you guys, so I want to get to it, because it’s a lot.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, I got a little carried away. You guys, with this podcast, I have been doing my best to cover topics in a way that make them really relatable and really easy to understand and really fun, but I cannot deny the nutrition scientist side of my brain. The nerdy, geeky, loves to dig into studies and medical journals and things like that. You guys, I love it. So, today we’re kind of showing a little bit of that. Charissa saw my show notes, and she was like, oh my gosh there’s so much information!

Charissa Talbot: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: It’s like, I promise it will go really quickly. {laughs}

Charissa Talbot: {laughs} No, it’s totally good. I think this is a great topic, and what can I say, it’s about one of my most favorite things and the life source besides water.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. We’re going to shed some light today on caffeine, and I’m calling this caffeine 101, not just because it’s a good title, but because it’s helped reign me in. Because when I wanted to start digging into some of the different hormones and metabolic pathways, I was like, no-no, it’s caffeine 101. We’ll save that for 102. {laughs}

Anyways, today we’re just going to lightly touch the full broad spectrum; what is caffeine, where does it come from, what are the effects that it has on the body, what are some of the perceived health benefits, and what are some of the negative health implications. We’re going to talk briefly about is it right for you? Is caffeine really right for you. We also have a really fun caffeine challenge, so I’m excited to get to it. Are you ready Charissa?

Charissa Talbot: I don’t want to do it!

Cassy Joy: Oooh! This is no pressure.

Charissa Talbot: I love my coffee! No, but I should. I mean, I think everyone will really enjoy the challenge, and I think its good information gathering for yourself, which I’m always about, so I say that jokingly, that I’m like, no not my coffee! But I think it’s good to do, for sure.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, yeah. It will be great. We’re going to learn a lot, and you’re going to walk away and you’re just going to have learned a lot. {laughs} And that’s all.

Charissa Talbot: Right. So everyone get your cup of coffee, or your tea, and sit down and listen in. Here we go! {laughs}

3. Where does caffeine come from? [11:02]

Cassy Joy: Here we go. Ok, let’s start with some fun facts about caffeine! Who’s with me? {laughs}

Charissa Talbot: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Ohh, I’m excited.

Charissa Talbot: Ok, Cassy, so where does caffeine come from?

Cassy Joy: Alrighty, are you ready for this?

Charissa Talbot: I’m ready.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Charissa Talbot: Wait, let me have some more of my coffee. Ok. I’m ready.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, take a sip. Ok, everyone’s ready now.

Charissa Talbot: Alright, enough jokes. Let’s get into it, yes.

Cassy Joy: So, one of the most direct sources is the coffea plant, the coffee plant. It produces a fruit that actually look a lot like a cranberry. They’re about the same size, and some of them are the same color. But they contain a giant seed, which is the coffee bean. So what we do from that is we roast it, we grind it, we run it through hot water, and we extract all the tasty caffeinated goodness. So, sources of caffeine include straight up coffee; everyone’s, or at least most peoples, favorite. It’s generally understood that a single cup of coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine. So, if you multiply by that by 2-3, like most Americans have 2-3 cups of coffee a day, you’re at between 200 and 300 mg of caffeine in a day.

I think it’s interesting to note too; I did some research and pulled up some of the nutrition facts from some of our most frequented brands. Because I think that’s good relevant information. One venti Americano from Starbucks; the Americano is the water with the coffee, has 250 mg of caffeine. So that’s about 2.5 cups on average. And then a grande drip coffee, just a grande so it’s a medium cup of coffee, has about 330 mg of caffeine. So quite a bit.

An espresso is another source of caffeine, which is some people’s favorite. Note that 1 fluid ounce of espresso, which is what they call a solo, apparently, in the world of the espresso land, which is an art form in and of itself, contains about 65 mg of caffeine. And then 2 ounces, which is a doppio, is double that. So, when I order an espresso I usually order a double, and that would be about 130 mg of caffeine, which is slightly more than maybe one cup of coffee.

And all of these amounts, bear in mind, are going to vary depending on the beans, how you brew it, all that stuff. So please take all of these numbers with a grain of salt. That’s why I’m giving you numbers from restaurants, because they’re just easier to rely upon. The coffee you brew at home is going to be very different.

Some other sources; soda, or pop, cola, and non cola sodas, are also sources of caffeine, obviously. Everybody probably knows that. And Coca-Cola, just for some reference, contains about 35 mg of caffeine, while some sneakier brands like Sunkist, you know the orange soda, contains over 40 mg of caffeine. Whenever I think of orange soda, I don’t know about you, but I think of Keenan and Kel, do you remember that from Nickelodeon days?

Charissa Talbot: No.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Oh my gosh!

Charissa Talbot: I do not.

Cassy Joy: It was so funny. Who loves orange soda? Kel loves orange soda! Anyways. About 5 people understood that.

Charissa Talbot: That’s ok, you should put a link in the show notes to a little video clip so we can.

Cassy Joy: Oh, I will!

Charissa Talbot: So we can see what you’re talking about.

Cassy Joy: Ok, diet colas also a source of caffeine. And I think it’s interesting to know this; some of you probably already know this. I know that many of you listening to this don’t drink soda for a lot of these reasons, but it’s good to cover, because some of you may be listening and you are a soda drinker. At least this is some good information for you. I think it’s interesting to note that in the world of diet cola, if they’re not going to get you addicted to the sugar found in regular coke, although some can argue that the addictive pathways stimulated by artificial sweeteners are the same regardless of whether it’s real or fake sugar, if they can’t get you addicted to the real sugar, they’re going to get you addicted with more caffeine. And then on an also footnote, incidentally more salt. But we’ll save that for another show.

So Diet Coke, and I’m just using this to zero in on one brand, because they all do it, but Diet Coke contains over 46 mg of caffeine while regular soda only has 35.

Charissa Talbot: Wow.

Cassy Joy: So I think that’s pretty interesting. Other sources of caffeine, tea. A lot of people’s favorites. Black tea contains an average of 30-45 mg, which is about a third of that in a cup of coffee. Green tea about 25, and then of course if you’re drinking tea that has it on the box that says naturally caffeine free, then it will have 0 mg.

All these, again, numbers will vary. Pete’s green tea apparently has 33 mg, and Starbucks venti iced green tea, which is what I, if I’m going on a road trip, I’m driving through Starbucks and I’m getting a venti iced unsweet green tea, it has a little bit over 60 mg.

So, there’s all that. Moving on down the list, sources of caffeine. I just think it’s so interesting; I hope I’m not boring you guys. I just love stuff like this.

Charissa Talbot: No, it’s really interesting to hear, because we “know” this stuff, we realize it, but I think it’s good to actually hear it, because it’s like, oh I had way more caffeine in my life than I actually think I do, you know.

Cassy Joy: Totally, totally. Or, not as much as you think.

Charissa Talbot: Right. Exactly.

Cassy Joy: Depending on what it is.

Charissa Talbot: I was talking about for me personally. I have a problem.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Charissa Talbot: This podcast is actually an intervention for Charissa. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Oh man. That’s secretly the whole reason we set it up.

Charissa Talbot: Right.

Cassy Joy: Just kidding. Ok, caffeine pills obviously have caffeine in them. Do you remember the days of No-Doz, by chance?

Charissa Talbot: Oh of course, yeah.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, I totally, moment of honesty here, took those in college. Because I was like, I’ve just got to stay up and study!

Charissa Talbot: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: Because when you're in college and you're desperate to just do your best, you kind of take some desperate measures, and that was my desperate measure. And one, a single one of those No-Doz pills, has 200 mg of caffeine. Which is pretty yucky, and I was taking a couple of them a night during some finals week, and I wound up with some fibroids in my breast tissue that were really painful, and as soon as I stopped the caffeine and went completely caffeine free, then eventually went away, so that’s interesting.

What about chocolate? Doesn’t chocolate have caffeine in it? Despite a lot of popular thought, and almost all of Google, chocolate may contain trace amounts of caffeine, but the primary stimulant, so to speak, that’s responsible for making us have that same feel from it is called theobromine. Theobromine is kind of like the chocolate caffeine, and it comes from the cocoa plant. So all of chocolate, cocoa powder, the bars of chocolate that make you feel kind of jittery, it’s because of theobromine. I won’t jump into it; I really want to talk more about that {laughs}. I have a lot more notes, but I’m going to move on.

Charissa Talbot: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Ok, so what about decaf coffee? Does decaf coffee have caffeine? You bet your bippy, it sure does.

Charissa Talbot: {laughing}

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Which I think is interesting because when I went caffeine free, when you have the habit of drinking coffee, you don’t want to give that up. You love the taste, you love the ritual, the morning hot cup of yumminess that smells so good. I remember I turned to decaf coffee, and I realized after several months of that, a cup of decaf coffee has almost 25 mg, which is as much as some teas, so this is just interesting to note. It definitely has less, it’s got a quarter the amount as a normal cup of coffee, but it’s still in there.

Charissa Talbot: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: I think it’s also interesting to note, that if you’re drinking decaf coffee, I think decaf coffee definitely has a place, just like I said before if you’re looking for the ritual, and you’re not really concerned, you're not doing it necessarily for the health benefits because you think less caffeine would be better for you and maybe decaf is healthier. Because arguably, it’s not. The process of decaffeinating coffee, which is kind of a rough and, I don’t know, it’s an interesting process. Google it, because I’m going to save us time today and not talk about it right now, but it actually also strips some of the arguable health benefits of coffee from the coffee bean, being those polyphenol antioxidants. So, that’s just interesting to note.

Ok, lastly, other sources of caffeine, a random list rapid fire, I’m going to go through them, includes some medications, pain relievers, like those over the counter migraine pills, some of them can have over 100 mg on average, and we’ll talk about that in a second, diet pills, which are really just appetite suppressants. One called, well maybe I shouldn’t name it but I’m going to do it anyways, {laughs} Zantrex-3 contains over 1200 mg of caffeine.

Charissa Talbot: Holy smokes!

Cassy Joy: Which is essentially 12 cups of coffee, so that’s interesting. Most of the “health waters” out there. Like vitamin water.

Charissa Talbot: Ugh!

Cassy Joy: All those that have the word energy on it.

Charissa Talbot: Don’t get me started on those!

Cassy Joy: {Laughs}, I know, but the ones that say the words energy on them have caffeine in them. Some foods like one out there called Perky Jerky, which I know has circulated in the paleo world, contains actually over 70 mg of caffeine. There are some chewing gums out there for caffeine, and then there’s other lotions and beauty products.

Charissa Talbot: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: It’s everywhere, you guys, and it all mostly comes from that little coffee plant and those little red beans that look like cranberries.

4. How does caffeine work in our bodies? [21:40]

Charissa Talbot: So, now that we’ve gotten through all of that and we understand where all this caffeine in our lives is coming from, and kind of taking some mental notes and being like, ok, alright, kind of getting a list in my head and like, oh no. I’m sure other people are as well. How does caffeine work in our bodies?

Cassy Joy: Ok, are you ready to get sciencey?

Charissa Talbot: I’m ready for you to get sciencey. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughs} I’m so excited. Oh man.

Charissa Talbot: I’m ready to listen and absorb the information, so I’m excited.

Cassy Joy: Ok good. So I want to start off by saying there is so much about the human body, especially the brain, that we do not understand. It is essentially uncharted territory, a lot of it. It’s interesting that we walk around with this, we have all of these amazing tools at our disposal in modern science and technology, and there’s still so much we don’t understand. So, what I’ve gathered here is a quick summary. It’s kind of like one perspective; if you’re standing on the outside looking in, this is just one perspective of an easy way to explain caffeine’s effect on the body. But there’s a lot of other ways we can talk about it, I just had to pick one. This is as much as we know right now.

So, to the brain, caffeine looks a lot like a compound called adenosine. Adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which when attached to its own very special receptor on a nerve ending tells the neurons to slow down. So when adenosine is attached to the nerve ending, it tells the neuron to slow down. So once a neuron’s “action potential”, meaning kind of its activity level, drops below a certain threshold, it doesn’t excite its nearby neurons. So adenosine attaches to its special receptor, it calms that neuron down, and all the other neurons nearby kind of start to also calm down; they calm down because they’re not being excited. Right?

What happens is, when we consume caffeine, caffeine looks a lot like adenosine. But it essentially has the opposite effect. What caffeine does is it binds to those special receptors and it kind of mocks what adenosine does, but because adenosine cannot reach its own receptors and signal everything to slow down, the neurons will start to speed up because caffeine is blocking it.

One way we can think about this, and it’s an analogy that I read somewhere, I think it applies really, really well. It’s not that when we consume caffeine that it presses on the gas. Right? It’s not that it increases the gas and makes us go faster, it takes our foot off the break and our bodies naturally start to speed up. There’s a whole lot I could talk about adenosine, but I’m going to hold off for now. So is that kind of clear, Charissa?

Charissa Talbot: Yes.

Cassy Joy: Ok. So, that’s kind of what happens. Our bodies start to speed up because adenosine cannot reach its receptors and tell things to slow down and take things at a nice normal pace. So what happens in the absence of those slow down signals from adenosine, dopamine and glutamate start to have a ball, and they now have free run of things, and they start to make things go a lot faster, so to speak, and make us feel more excited.

And then what happens is the pituitary gland starts to recognize this action, and thinks that the body is under some state of emergency. Right? Emergency, oh my goodness, what’s going on. So as a result, it starts to do its job and releases adrenaline. Adrenaline is that hormone that we all are familiar with that causes the body’s heart rate to increase, the liver starts to release more sugar into the blood stream for energy, muscles tighten, and then blood vessels start to constrict and the purpose of that is to allow more blood flow to your muscles. So it’s kind of that fight or flight response that our body goes into. The pituitary gland is like, oh my goodness, the neurons are on overdrive. We’re firing the glutamate and dopamine are having a ball up there, there must be some major stimulus going on, and we need to get ready to either fight or flight.

So that’s why when you drink coffee, caffeine, tea, whatever it is, or at least a lot of it, your hands kind of start to feel a little bit colder and it’s because your blood vessels start to constrict, your heart rate starts to increase, and that’s because of all of these things. It’s a really complicated chain reaction. I hope I summarized it well. And I left off some big stuff, so if you are super sciencey and you’re listening to this {laughs}, I hope you have some grace with me.

Ok, so that’s pretty much the summary. Just remember, caffeine doesn’t necessarily speed you up, it just tells your body to stop slowing down.

Charissa Talbot: Right.

Cassy Joy: Ok, and then another thing I can touch on here briefly is what happens throughout the day our body produces that neuroinhibitor adenosine. We naturally produce that as a result of working and thinking and our neurons firing throughout the day, that’s how we produce that inhibitory neurotransmitter. So it builds up as the day goes on. Workouts also increase more of it, because those neurons are firing, right? So what happens is, your body starts to notice levels of adenosine based on how they attached those transmitters, and that’s when it starts to tell you to slow down more, and more, and more, so when you get towards the end of the day, you start to get sleepier and sleepier, more tired and more relaxed, and your blood vessels start to dilate so that it allows more oxygen into your blood stream as you start to prepare for sleep. That’s why we have adenosine in our body, to kind of help with that internal clock, so to speak.

So what caffeine does is it tells your body in the morning to wake up really quickly, we’re going to inhibit that slow down signal from adenosine. We’re going to wake up quickly, and then people who drink it later in the day, it keeps their body from ever starting to slowly gradually wind down for sleep and to start to feel tired.

Charissa Talbot: Gotcha.

5. Perceived health benefits of coffee [28:27]

Cassy Joy: Ok, so there we go. Some of the perceived health benefits of caffeine. Coffee, for example, has some polyphenol antioxidants. They are known to be cancer fighting, anti-inflammatory, of course, antioxidants, promote heart health and have some other varied benefits. I don’t really want to dive too deeply into these because you see those articles that say, the top 10 health benefits for red wine! And then all of a sudden people are like, well, I’ve got to start drinking red wine every day because it’s healthy for me.

Charissa Talbot: Right.

Cassy Joy: I don’t really want to touch on it, you know. I think coffee, I don’t want to demonize it, I think it’s great to be enjoyed on occasion, but I don’t want people to be thinking and confused that it’s a health food.

Charissa Talbot: Right.

Cassy Joy: Caffeine can help reduce headaches. The way it does that, like we said before, the effect of the release of adrenaline causes your blood vessels to constrict. That’s essentially what happens when you have a headache; it helps your blood vessels constrict. There’s a whole lot more to it, but it just makes you feel better. Another perceived benefit of caffeine is that it helps you work _____ not necessarily smarter, ok. So think about that. It doesn’t necessarily make you better at what you're doing, but it will make you faster at whatever you’re doing. {laughs} So think about that when you’re trying to chose tasks to unleash your caffeine on.

Charissa Talbot: {laughs}

6. Potential dangers of caffeine [29:59]

Cassy Joy: Some of the potential dangers of caffeine, moving right along. Obviously, it will inhibit sleep. If your body is never allowed to really slow down, right, and start to put that brake back on, that natural brake, then you’re going to have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep. I like to say a good rule of thumb is try to only consume caffeine in the a.m. hours. That’s a rule I abide by unless I have a long road trip and I really want me some green tea.

Charissa Talbot: Yep.

Cassy Joy: So that’s just something to keep in mind. If you have trouble staying asleep or falling asleep, maybe try to limit caffeine to the a.m. hours. Caffeine can also promote anxiety. If you’re generally an anxious person, maybe try going caffeine, and we’ll talk about the challenge in a little bit, but trying going caffeine free for a little bit and see what happens.

It will elevate cortisol levels in habitual coffee drinkers. That can result in a myriad of other problems. It really kind of messes with the body’s clock, like we talked about before, and that’s a whole nother can of worms. We’ll save that for caffeine 102.

Charissa Talbot: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: Lastly, it can cause heartburn. I really want to touch on this briefly, because I think it’s fun/important to note. The way that coffee can promote heartburn is it increases the secretion of gastric acid, that stomach acid, the HCl in our tummy. This can be a sign, when you have heartburn after you drink coffee, it can be a sign of essentially one of three things. One, you either need to eat something when you’re drinking coffee, because of the thing I’m about to talk about, but the fix could be as simple as that, just make sure you’re eating something if you’re having heartburn. You could be drinking too much coffee, and the heartburn is, again, a result of what I’m about to talk about. Or, it could be a sign that your gallbladder is not producing enough bile salts to neutralize the chyme, and that is just essentially your stomach acid.

So what happens is, chyme is just the gastric juices that flow from the stomach into the intestines, and what happens is when you get a lot of that, the gallbladder tries to produce these bile salts to help neutralize it. When we produce too much stomach acid, the gallbladder is kind of overwhelmed. It’s like, girlfriend, I’m over here, I’m doing my best, and you’re not giving me a chance!

Charissa Talbot: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: So if we eat something, it kind of helps reduce that stomach acid, if we reduce the amount of coffee we’re drinking it helps reduce that stomach acid.

Charissa Talbot: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: Also, I think it could be a signal that if you experience heartburn when you drink coffee, whether you are eating it with food or whether you are not drinking a whole lot of it, it could potentially be a sign of metabolic syndrome. If you suss back that that might be something going on, I think that might be something to look at. Metabolic syndrome, one of the markers is an under functioning gallbladder. So just put that in your back pocket.

Charissa Talbot: I know for me personally, if I have too much caffeine in a day I can tell, because I just don’t feel well. You know? I will get, like you said, higher anxiety, sometimes I’ll get shaky, and then I just kind of have an unsettled feeling. I can’t calm down, I feel like I have to do something, and I do not like that feeling. So because I know what that feels like and I don’t like it, I do keep my coffee at a level. With that being said, your body can adjust, right?

Cassy Joy: Totally.

Charissa Talbot: So I may not be doing my body justice, my body just may be used to the amount of caffeine I am inputting into it.

Cassy Joy: Totally.

Charissa Talbot: I find that stuff interesting.

Cassy Joy: That’s a really great point, Charissa. Your body can adjust to it. Your cortisol response to drinking coffee can kind of level out over time. So let’s say you have 2-3 cups of coffee every single day, and you’ve had it every single day for the past year, you might be thinking, and some people say this, they’re like, coffee just doesn’t affect me as much anymore.

Charissa Talbot: Right.

Cassy Joy: And that’s actually true! You’re exactly right. It doesn’t. Your cortisol response to coffee, your body has learned to adapt. Because that’s what we do, that’s how we survive in this modern world that’s got all these toxins and crazy things around us, we adapt.

Charissa Talbot: Yep.

Cassy Joy: So that’s essentially what’s happened. But that does not mean that you’re immune to those negative cortisol effects. They’re there, they’re just kind of mitigated because your body has figured out a way to get by.

7. To caffeinate or not to caffeinate [35:06]

Charissa Talbot: Right. So, as we look at all of this information, how do we know if caffeine is something that we should do or shouldn’t do? Because like you said, it’s not something we should demonize, it’s something if you enjoy, but it’s also not the miracle health cure. How do you determine that?

Cassy Joy: That’s a great question. I think you need to ask yourself, or you can ask yourself, I’ll make it less scary. You can ask yourself, are you generally and easily stressed out? Because habitual coffee drinkers, although we just talked about, they have adapted their cortisol response to daily coffee, they tend to be more sensitive to singular bursts of friction. So if you get a stressful phone call or a stressful email, and all of a sudden it puts you into some sort of anxiety downward spiral, and you are a habitual coffee drinker, it could be that you would be able to handle those situations more calmly and more easily if maybe you didn’t have as high of a caffeine intake. So that’s something to think about.

Is caffeine right for you if you are celiac or you have a gluten sensitivity? Remember that coffee is considered a cross reactive food, and can contribute to chronic inflammation. So if that’s something that you’re dealing with, it could very much be, I guess I could roughly put it as a health inhibitor. So, just keep that in mind. Again, it’s just like drinking a glass of wine. It’s not; we’re not going to talk about the health benefits. It’s fine if you want to have some. But just know that if you’re trying to achieve some major healing milestones, coffee isn’t necessarily going to help you.

Charissa Talbot: Nah.

Cassy Joy: If you’re trying to lose weight and heal your gut, it may not be a great avenue. Pick it up once you’ve reached your goals. That’s something to think about.

Charissa Talbot: Right.

Cassy Joy: And I think it’s important to note that the name of this paleo, grain free, crap free lifestyle, the name of the game is to reduce inflammation. Right?

Charissa Talbot: Right.

Cassy Joy: And by reducing inflammation, we give our bodies, this is something that I talk about a lot in the Fed and Fit project, but we’re giving our bodies the absolute best fighting chance to heal from the inside out. And although coffee will suppress your appetite, just like those diet pills we talked about before, and people might think that that’s really attractive because they’re not eating as much so they calorie restrict themselves into losing weight, it will not help you heal. Just something to consider.

8. Cassy’s caffeine challenge [37:56]

Charissa Talbot: Ok. So, last bit. Today, instead of doing our Fed and Fit segment, although we have run over. We say we’re going to do a 30 minute podcast, and it doesn’t always happen.

Cassy Joy: We do our best.

Charissa Talbot: But we have so much good information for you today, we had to fit it all in there. So instead of doing our Fed and Fit segment, Cassy has created a caffeine challenge. Now, I’m going to do it.

Cassy Joy: Wohoo!

Charissa Talbot: Because I am a co-host and I feel like its part of my duty to donate my body to science {laughs} and figure this stuff out. It’s a really good thing to do, so I hope everyone joins me in on this challenge, because I need this stuff. Like I said, this whole podcast is an intervention for me for sure. So, Cassy, tell us what is your caffeine challenge? What do I have to do? {laughs} What have I gotten myself into?

Cassy Joy: Ok, so the caffeine challenge. It’s easier than you think, you’ll be so glad you did it. So, my caffeine challenge, and you guys, this is something that I do on a regular basis. I have been completely caffeine free several times and I’ve also been like one to eventually 2 to eventually 3 cups of coffee a day type drinker. So this is a good thing to do every once in a while. Kind of think of it as a caffeine detox, so to speak, though I kind of hate the word detox.

Ok, so the challenge, for one week, I want you to continue your current caffeine habits. Keep drinking coffee and tea the way that you like to drink coffee and tea and journal how you feel for 7 whole days, for one whole week, write how much you had and kind of how you’re feeling throughout the day. Write how you’re feeling mid morning; around lunch time; around dinner time; how you slept. Every single day for one whole week.

As soon as that week is over, I want you to think about, pick your level of involvement here, but either reduce your caffeine intake by half, or eliminate it all together.

Charissa Talbot: Ooof.

Cassy Joy: And you’re going to have a couple of days of withdrawal, so just bear that in mind, there’s going to be a couple of days where you’re probably going to have major headaches and some other symptoms. You may experience some slower transit times if you depend on coffee in the morning to help get things going. The reason they get things going is because it increases the stomach acid, like we talked about before .So if that’s an issue, drink some lemon water in the morning if you decide to go coffee free/caffeine free for a little while to help with that.

Reduce it or eliminate it altogether, give yourself a couple of days to heal and get over that detox, and then I want you to journal for another 5-7 days how you're feeling. I want you still to do energy levels in the morning, afternoon, evening, and how you’re sleeping. And then what you can do at the end of this 2-week challenge is sit down with your notes before and your notes after giving it up, and compare them side by side, and see how you feel. If there isn’t a huge difference, then you know that caffeine maybe doesn’t have a huge impact on you.

Because it does, it affects different people differently, so it’s important to always remember, with all of these things, just because we’re saying all of these generalizations about caffeine and how the body processes them and how it works, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to manifest the same in different people. So, this is the only way to know, you’ve got to test it for yourself. Look at your notes side by side, see how you respond. If you realize that you are doing awesome without caffeine, at the end of that last week without it, you’re fully recovered from the detox, your productivity is through the roof, you’re sleeping like a baby, maybe that’s something to consider. Is that morning cup of Joe worth that trade off every once in a while? That’s a call, that’s a decision that only you can make.

So there you go. That’s my challenge. I encourage you all to kind of take a critical look at your coffee intake.

Charissa Talbot: I can do that. That’s doable, I can do that.

Cassy Joy : Awesome. Well, thank you guys so much for sticking with me through all this nerdy talk. If you enjoyed this, I would just love to do a little market research here. If you enjoyed this episode, particularly, let me know, either in the show notes. The show notes, I’m actually talking about the blog post that’s shows up on FedandFit.com; or via social media. Let me know if you enjoy this kind of nerdier, a little bit more sciencey talk, because we can do more stuff like this in the future. Or we can keep it a little bit lighter, like we did last week when we talked about busy. So definitely give us some feedback. Thanks again for listening, and we will be back again next week.


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  1. Hannah says:

    Love this episode!! Ya’ll are so awesome and I love your positivity and perky spirits! I loved this episode on caffeine. I have been off of coffee for about 5 months and it’s been hard as I absolutely crave that delicious coffee flavor but my body does not handle coffee well as it makes me anxious and I can’t calm down like you described. Have either of you tried chicory root coffee like the one from Delicious Obsessions? Would you suggest it to those that can’t really have coffee but want that flavor? Thank you girls so much for what you do and keep up the awesome energy 🙂

    1. Kelly says:

      I haven’t tried the chicory root coffee, but I know some other bloggers that are really enjoying it since they don’t drink coffee anymore. If you are really missing that coffee flavor it might be worth a shot! Thank you for the positive feedback Hannah!!

  2. Hollie says:

    I got the Orange Soda reference right away! I am planning to take part in the caffeine challenge.

    1. Kelly says:

      Glad you got the reference! Let us know how the challenge is going Hollie!

  3. J says:

    Hello C and C,

    Loving your podcasts.

    You asked for us to chime in about nerdy vs. lighter. I definitely preferred the nerd level on the caffeine podcast vs. the busy podcast. More science and biochemistry, please. Fascinating stuff.

    I’ve tried that cutting the caffeine in half thing and been thrown into headache-dom. Ouch! If you have any tips on ways to kick the habit, I would love to hear them.

    Thanks much,


    1. Kelly says:

      Thank you for the kind words J! I am a fan of the nerdy as well as I find it so fascinating. I would suggest trying to decrease your caffeine intake slowly if you are experiencing bad headaches. You could also switch to tea as well. Hope that helps!

  4. J says:

    Thanks, Kelly! I’ll try the taper.