During this episode of Sheer Strength Labs, Josh interviews Ben Coomber, who is a nutritionist and runs Body Type Nutrition. Josh and Ben discuss the negatives and positives of caffeine, how too much coffee is affecting you throughout your day, and strategies to combat caffeine addiction.
Through his journey and struggle in trying to lose weight as an obese teenager, Ben found fitness and became a personal trainer. This led into the education side of fitness and nutrition and starting his business.
There is an overconsumption of caffeine in today’s society, as it has reached a point of being fashionable, as well as a force of habit. We have conditioned ourselves to think if we are feeling a bit low in energy we need a coffee. However, not many people are being critical and asking ‘why am I tired and don’t’ have energy?’ Make no mistake; caffeine is an anti-sleep agent. No one is ‘caffeine deficient,’ and coffee shouldn’t be doing cortisol’s job.
The role of caffeine should be that it works when we need it, but if we are taking it all day, then the effect will be lost. People don’t understand the role caffeine can play in workouts as a performance enhancer.
The research on caffeine is positive and shows increased endurance, strength, work output, and central nervous system activation. This is another reason that has allowed it to become social acceptable. Caffeine is associated with performance and should be used only as an optimizer rather than a daily crutch for nominal tasks. You will only benefit from caffeine if your body isn’t already neurologically tired out and desensitized to the caffeine you are consuming daily.
Too much caffeine is causing adrenal fatigue because we are constantly asking the body to produce adrenaline because of the caffeine we are consuming through the day.
The problem is that your cortisol levels will be predicated on a caffeine bonus. If you get up in the morning and don’t feel awake without coffee, and then the caffeine is taken away, you won’t normalize for quite some time. Licorice can help prolong the cortisol the body is producing.
For people who are consuming far too much, the weaning process needs to be slow. Going cold turkey is the worst thing you can do, as you will end up having a headache for about 10 days. Caffeine withdrawal is painful and similar to a mild form of drug withdrawal. Gradually reduce your caffeine intake over a few weeks and even use half-strength cups as a way to wean.
When people lose a lot of weight, it takes a lot of mental power and education to learn how to eat safely and knowing you won’t get fat. Ben was eating around 3,300 calories to maintain his weight in the rugby off-season and wanted to gain weight during the summer. He increased his calories by 300, then another 100 per week until he felt he was getting fat. He went through the summer eating around 4,200 calories. Now that he is coming into the rugby season, he dropped the calories slightly and his BMR is around 3,600, so he gained a net 400 calories over the summer. Ben forced his body to work in a more optimal way, increased the metabolic rate, and increased muscle mass. When you force the body to run on all four cylinders, it will consume more food without getting fat.
Ben teaches his clients to raise the calorie ceiling slowly and says whatever you think your maintenance calories are, go higher. Why? Because the more calories you eat, the better you’ll sleep, perform, more energy you’ll have, and your mental clarity will be.
If you under eat on a high volume programs, then you won’t get the proper stimulus in the programming. The amount of performance missed in the program is due to being under fueled. Ben’s motto in the gym is to always be slightly under-trained and never be slightly over-trained. The problem with sports is that you never know when you are going to get a fastball.
We get into the mindset of ‘more is better,’ and you will start to get burnt out and see the affects of over-training, under-sleeping, and under-recovering, and overall, ending up in a crappy place. Ultimately, it will end with you hating the training or hating your chosen sport and giving up one or both up.
Look at the variables, be honest, reflect, and see where you are at in a positive way and what you are going to change to move forward. Do you consume too much caffeine? If yes, then create a plan of action.
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