Health and Fitness Studies

Using Energy Supplements Safely & Effectively

Do you know about energy supplements? Many people would answer that they do, but the truth is that few understand that there is a large range of different varieties available, and the safest and most effective way to use them is to know “your energy” needs.

What does that mean? Well, are you someone whose energy decreases at the same time each day? Clearly, you have created a pattern in your metabolism that indicates the need for a bit of a “boost” during that particular period of time. While you could just attempt to naturally bump your body out of this pattern, if you are like most people, you probably have a strict work schedule that would make it hard to do so. This means a caffeine based supplement would be the ideal solution for you. The key to such a supplement is simply to use it in moderation until you know its general effects, and then continue at the most comfortable level.

If you find that you have unpleasant experiences with caffeine, you can always resort to the herbal remedies instead. There are many high-quality formulations that will help you to avoid the “crash” that some experience after caffeine has run its course, and most of these formulas are also entirely sugar free as well.

If you are dieting and also seeking to keep energy levels as high as possible, you could look for energy supplements that also operate as fat burning supplements too. These are perfectly safe as long as you are consuming a good diet and doing enough exercise to balance out the amount fat that the supplements consume.

As already said, the best way to choose a good energy supplement is to consider your specific needs. You must then begin using them in moderation to measure their effects on your body, and only then should you incorporate them into your daily diet.

Finding the Right Weight Loss Programs

Losing weight is never an easy process because it often means cutting back on the food that we enjoy the most and finding the time to be more active in our already busy schedules. Once you have made the conscious decision to lose weight it needs to be swiftly followed up by a plan of action or a weight loss program. They say that failing to plan is planning to fail, if you don’t plan out exactly how you will lose weight then chances are it will never happen because you have got nothing to stick to.

A healthy weight loss program is one that involves a balanced diet that contains plenty of fruit and veg and is low in saturated fats (anything that is fried) and refined sugar (sweets, cakes, soft drinks), an exercise regime (even 30 minutes of walking per day is suitable if you are just starting out) and a support network of other people who also want to lose weight.

However, you should avoid a weight loss program that encourages you to take a severely restricted calorie intake or recommends high levels of exercise to ‘burn the fat’, especially if you are not in a great shape to begin with. It is nearly always best to consult your physician before undertaking a weight loss program and discussing with them the benefits and drawbacks of what you plan to do – they might even ask you to limit the amount of exercise you do when you first start out.

When planning your healthy weight loss diet program there are many options you can choose from such as a low fat diet, a high protein diet, a fixed menu diet or a points based diet. Since everyone is different, it’s very difficult to say which diet is the best for you. A low fat diet works very well, but can cause problems for people who are extremely overweight, similarly a high protein diet can put your body under stress because you are not eating enough carbs, fixed menu diets can be very easy to follow but are often uninspiring and definitely not suitable for someone who likes to socialize a lot and a points based program involves lots of deliberation in the supermarket and restaurants on what you can and can’t buy to eat.

There are many weight loss clubs and organizations such as Weight Watchers who will help you build a unique weight loss program and provide you with the support and encouragement required to see it through. The regular meetings and ‘weigh ins’ help provide that extra motivation and some people excel when they have specific targets to meet.

Obviously some people prefer a more private weight loss program and using the Internet and plethora of books and guides available it’s very easy to construct your own diet plan, exercise plan and even create an online journal or post in a forum under a pseudonym to receive support and encouragement from others.

Checkout Appress – The Appetite Suppressant.

A Love Affair with Caffeine

Americans love caffeine. According to a recent study by the National Sleep Foundation, 43% of Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis. For most people, consuming caffeine is a way to get a boost of energy that will help them get through their day. This energy boost may come in the form of coffee, tea, soda, an energy drink or capsules. When 7 to 8 hours of sleep is not a possibility – which it isn’t for most of us – caffeine consumption can be an excellent solution. But what happens when you can’t get your hands on the caffeine your body craves? How do you get through the day? Luckily, there are a few solutions.

When caffeine is not an option, the best thing to do is sleep for 10 to 15 minutes. These little power naps allow your body to recharge. However, not everyone has an opportunity to take a power nap during the day. If you fall into that category, consider drinking a lot of water. When your body is hydrated, you will have more energy. Gatorade and soda are also options. They both contain sugar, which might not provide as much of a boost as caffeine, but it will provide a boost, nonetheless. Also consider drinking orange juice. This won’t only give you energy, but there are several other health benefits as well, including a high volume of antioxidants and Vitamin C.

If you consume caffeine regularly and you go a day without it, you might suffer from a caffeine headache. These headaches are caused by the increased velocity of blood flow when caffeine is absent from your system. This means that regular headache medication won’t be very effective. Your best approach is to take Excedrin, which contains caffeine. If you can’t get your hands on Excedrin, try drinking peppermint tea or getting a massage. Both approaches are often effective when dealing with caffeine headaches.

Caffeine headaches are nothing to worry about. In other words, they aren’t going to have any long term effects. Caffeine is one of the few substances on the planet that offers instant gratification – it only takes minutes to feel a boost of energy after consumption. This boost of energy also lasts a long time. After six hours, half of the caffeine consumed is still in your system. Some people have also reported a happier mood after consuming caffeine. Overall, the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives.

Caffeine Withdrawal – Why It Causes Those Nasty Headaches

Have you ever told yourself you’re going to kick the caffeine habit for good, only to put down that cup of java or refreshing cola and trade it in for a splitting headache? There’s a reason prying your hand off that mug isn’t as easy as you might have thought. Learn more about caffeine withdrawal and why it causes those nasty headaches.

Adenosine – The Caffeine – Blood Pressure Connection

There’s a reason a long-time coffee, tea or cola drinker has difficulty giving it up. Caffeine is a naturally addictive stimulant, which is enough to cause a withdrawal headache on its own. However, the deeper reason behind the sudden headache caused by caffeine withdrawal has a lot to do with blood pressure.

The human body produces a chemical called adenosine, which causes blood vessels to dilate and blood pressure to lower. Ordinarily, the body does not have any negative response to this natural dilation.

However, when caffeine is added for extended periods of time and then abruptly withdrawn, it causes blood vessels to become painful dilated, leading to a caffeine withdrawal headache.

Caffeine – Headache Cause and Cure

This is why caffeine is included in so many headache remedies, because it causes dilated blood vessels to constrict and reduce discomfort. The problem is, using it to treat a headache is one of the major causes of dependence.

According to a research study done by John Hopkins School of Medicine, caffeine changes the way adenosine affects the brain. Ordinarily, it inhibits the communication between one nerve cell and another. Since caffeine is structurally similar to adenosine, it fools the body by binding itself to receptors usually reserved for the naturally-occurring chemical. This causes the stimulant effect.

During one study, rats were fed a small amount of caffeine equivalent to one cup of coffee for an ordinary adult. It was then abruptly withdrawn and blood pressure dropped plummeted. The hypothesis is that when caffeine is taken into the body at regular intervals, adenosine is blocked, causing the body to produce much more of it than it should. Sudden withdrawal of the stimulant causes a flood of it to enter the body and cause an adenosine-induced headache.

When cutting caffeine from the diet, it is best to do so gradually to avoid withdrawal headaches and other withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, shakiness and nausea.

Creative Strategies to Survive a Day Without Caffeine

At first blush, caffeine seems harmless enough. After all, this common substance is found everywhere, from your morning cup of coffee and your favorite soft drink to that delicious chocolate bar. But even though caffeine is everywhere, it is not necessarily good for you. Caffeine can be habit forming, and potentially dangerous as well. If you have high blood pressure, for instance, all that extra caffeine could push your blood pressure up even further, increasing your odds of suffering a life-altering heart attack or stroke. Caffeine can also be addictive, and you can suffer real physical problems, including severe headaches, when cutting it out of your diet.

Unfortunately, weaning yourself off of caffeine can be a difficult process, especially if you are a heavy consumer of coffee and other caffeinated beverages. In order to be successful, you need to have a solid strategy in place for overcoming the cravings that could otherwise wreck your well intentioned plan.

Make Smart Substitutions

Consuming large quantities of caffeine is a habit, much the same way that morning cigarette is for smokers. If you are to make it through day one without any caffeine, you need to start making smart substitutions and changes in your daily routine. You can start with something as simple as substitution decaffeinated coffee for the full test variety when you start your day. Continue to make those substitutions as you drink coffee throughout the day, and soon you will lower your blood levels of caffeine and help to wean your body off the stuff.

It may be helpful to take a few over the counter pain pills when you start weaning yourself off caffeine. Removing caffeine from your daily diet will have an impact on your blood vessels, especially those in your head. When those blood vessels contract, you can end up with a wicked headache. In fact, a withdrawal headache is one of the classic symptoms indicating that you need to lower your caffeine consumption.  Taking a few pain pills before you start weaning your body off caffeine can reduce your discomfort and increase our chances of seeing the change through to the end.

Watch for Hidden Caffeine

While your morning coffee might be the most obvious source of caffeine, chances are it is not your only source. Making it through the day without caffeine means looking for less obvious sources of this ubiquitous drug. If you enjoy soft drinks on a regular basis, you are probably consuming more caffeine than you might guess. Substituting caffeine free soft drinks for the regular variety is a good way to lower your caffeine consumption and wean your body off this popular stimulant.

Even your favorite candy bar can be a source of caffeine, so you will need to monitor your consumption carefully. When you shop for your favorite chocolate, check the label for the caffeine content and choose the candy with the lowest possible amount of the substance. The caffeine content of chocolate is low compared to coffee and even soft drinks, but it can still be a concern as you try to break free of your caffeine habit.

As with so many other habits, that first day without caffeine is likely to be the most difficult. Keep telling yourself that if you can make it through that first day the remainder of the days will be that much easier.

Does Caffeine Stunt Growth?

Caffeinated soft drinks are a popular beverage choice among kids these days. A recent study showed that children between the ages of eight and twelve get the caffeine equivalent of three-and-a-half sodas on a daily basis. Some parents are concerned that this could affect their growth. Does caffeine stunt growth?

Does Caffeine Stunt Growth?

Caffeine isn’t good for kids, but there’s little evidence that caffeine stunts growth. On the other hand, this issue hasn’t been thoroughly researched. The only study looking at growth, bone density and caffeine was published in the American College of Nutrition in 1998. It showed that caffeine didn’t affect height or bone density in girls between ages twelve and eighteen.

On the other hand, there has been concern that caffeine could increase the risk of osteoporosis in adults. One study showed that for every cup of caffeinated coffee a person drinks, about 5 additional milligrams of calcium are lost in the urine, but this is a very small amount that could be easily replaced through diet by simply adding milk to the coffee.

Although research has been conflicting, most studies don’t support the idea that caffeine negatively affects bone density, much less growth in children. Still, this question hasn’t been completely resolved, so coffee drinkers should be sure they get an adequate amount of calcium in their diet.

Even though there’s no evidence that caffeine stunts growth, a recent study showed that caffeine causes kids to sleep less at night, which can affect their school performance during the day. It also raises blood pressure in children and can cause nervousness and anxiety, which makes it hard to concentrate in class. Most kids do better without the additional stimulation of caffeine.

Does Caffeine Stunt Growth: The Bottom Line?

There’s no evidence that caffeine stunts growth, but kids are better off without caffeinated soft drinks. Caffeine has no nutritional value and no real benefits for a child – it only leads to sleep problems, nervousness and problems concentrating in class. Don’t let your child become a soft drink or energy drink junkie. Steer them towards caffeine-free alternatives.

References:

Journal of the American College of Nutrition. “Dietary Caffeine Intake Is Not Correlated with Adolescent Bone Gain”

The Coffee Science Information Center. “Coffee, Caffeine, Calcium Balance and Bone Health”

How Much Caffeine is Safe?

Caffeine is a stimulant that revs up the nervous system, raises blood pressure and stimulates the heart. Caffeine is a drug, and like other drugs and medications, you can get too much caffeine, although you might not know it the way some early risers guzzle umpteen cups of coffee to wake up. How much caffeine is safe?

How Much Caffeine is Safe?

According to the Prescriber’s Letter, a guide for physicians, the average adult who has no medical problems can safely tolerate up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. This sounds like a lot until you consider that a single cup of brewed coffee has up to 120 milligrams of caffeine. Thus, 3 ½ cups of coffee would be the limit for adults who aren’t getting caffeine from other sources.

The problem is most people get caffeine from beverages such as tea, soft drinks, coffee and even some medications, although the amounts of caffeine in these sources is lower. Then there’s the problem of energy drinks. Some energy drinks have caffeine contents of up to 300 milligrams. Drink a single serving of an energy drink and a cup of coffee in the same day, and you’re over the recommended limit.

What Are the Effects of Too Much Caffeine?

Every organ system in the body is affected by too much caffeine. Most people are familiar with the shakiness, jitters, anxiety, hyperactivity and insomnia a few cups of coffee bring on. Too much caffeine also causes nausea, flushing and headache. The heart speeds up and some people experience irregular heart rhythms and premature contractions of the heart. When caffeine levels are very high, some people become very agitated and experience hallucination or seizures. There’s a good reason why caffeine is classified as a drug.

When a person gets too much caffeine, other things happen behind the scenes. Overindulging in caffeine causes levels of hormones called catecholamines, including adrenalin, to increase in the bloodstream. This leads to an increase in blood pressure, more production of glucose by the liver and changes in the digestive tract including increased secretion of stomach acid.  No wonder doctors urge people with conditions such as stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes to watch how much caffeine they take in.

How Much Caffeine is Safe: The Bottom Line?

Most healthy adults can tolerate up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, but sensitivity to caffeine varies. Some people experience unpleasant symptoms at much lower doses, especially if they’re not regular coffee drinkers. People who have heart disease, peptic ulcer disease, digestive issues, high blood pressure or diabetes should talk to their doctor before consuming caffeine. Tea and instant coffee are usually significantly lower in caffeine than brewed coffee, so consider switching to these if you’re trying to cut back.

References:

Prescriber’s Letter. January 2011. Volume 18, No.l  Medscape.com. “Caffeine Intoxication and Addiction”

Does Caffeine Improve Cognitive Function in People with Alzheimer’s Disease?

Can caffeine improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease? It’s an intriguing question that already has some science behind it. According to an article published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, a group of experts are now looking at the potential benefits of caffeine for treating memory problems in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Caffeine for Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease?

Studies on both animals and humans show that caffeine has beneficial effects on memory – particularly in the elderly. One study showed that older women who drank three or more cups of coffee each day had less decline in memory and cognitive function than those who drank a cup or less.

In animal studies, caffeine slows down degeneration of nerve tissue in aging animals and prevents dementia and memory loss in animal models. In humans, men who drink more caffeinated coffee have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, another degenerative disease of the brain.

In both humans and animals, caffeine seems to improve cognitive function, slow down degenerative changes in the brain, and boost memory. Now, scientists want to know whether caffeine can help people living with Alzheimer’s disease improve their ability to think and remember. Experts also point out that caffeine has mood stimulating effects which could be beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease who experience depression with their illness.

Can Caffeine Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

Caffeine may not only play a role in improving cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients, but it could also help to protect people at high risk. One European study showed that people who drink more than three cups of coffee a day have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Still, much more research is needed before coffee could be recommended for Alzheimer’s disease prevention or treatment.

Caffeine seems to affect each individual differently. Some are sensitive to caffeine and experience anxiety, palpitations, increases in blood pressure, and insomnia. If high doses are needed to improve cognitive function, the side effects might be a limiting factor.

Caffeine to Improve Cognitive Function: The Bottom Line

It’s still too early to get out the coffee pot to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but sipping a cup or two at Starbuck’s could have some benefits after all.

References:

New Study Links Exercise and Grades

There’s good news for student athletes, or for students who want to get more active. According to a new study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting, there’s a link between college students who engage in regular exercise and higher academic performance.

Researchers at Saginaw State University tracked the grades and exercise habits of more than 250 undergraduate students and found that those who did vigorous exercise regularly had higher GPAs on average, regardless of major or study times. In fact, researchers also looked at study times and found that there may be a link between those who study regularly, which suggests that those with a high academic work ethic are more likely to commit to exercise.

So there you go! Now is the perfect time to get more active in both athletics and academics. Both go hand in hand to deliver a better lifestyle, not to mention, improve your overall level of wellness.

You’ll Never See Strength Training The Same Way Again

Most people hold the belief that cardio burns far more calories than strength training. Now there’s research to prove that myth wrong. Strength training can actually be superior to steady-state cardio in burning calories.

The study, which was conducted by the University of Southern Maine, showed that participants burned just as many calories doing 30 minutes of weight training as they did running at a six minute per mile pace for the same amount of time.

“If you do steady-state cardio, when you leave the gym, that’s it for your calorie burn,” says David Jack, general manager of Competitive Athlete Training Zone in Acton, Massachusetts in an interview with MSN Health and Fitness. “But when you do strength work, you’ll continue to burn calories for up to 36 hours.”

Plus, other research has shown that strength training boosts your metabolism after your workout by building muscle that improves your fat-burning potential overall.

Don’t just think cardio when you want to slim, trim, and burn. Instead, try strength training to build lean, hard muscle that can make you look and feel your best.