Caffeinated Nation

90% of North American adults consume some form of caffeine on a daily basis, making this legal, psychoactive substance the world’s most widely used drug. -Neil Majithia of Virginia Commonwealth University

It’s 9:20 am and I’m slowly getting my ass out of bed. I’m scheduled to lift with Gary at 10, luckily we both seem to struggle waking up so a quick confirmation text and we’re both on schedule for 10:30. I walk into the kitchen, turn on my espresso machine and make myself a cup of coffee while force feeding myself a banana, pink lady apple, and half of a protein shake. I’m such a zombie in the morning that my first cup of the day (approx. 60-75mg of caffeine) is just enough to get me into a normal state of wakefulness. By the time I finish my light breakfast it’s time to get going so I quickly whip up my pre-workout, grab my half finished shake and head out. Gary’s already warming up by the time I arrive and so I begin to do the same. About half way through my mobility work I consume one and a half scoops of Beyond Yourself PreSet pre-workout (approx. 300mg of caffeine). I feel ready to attack the weights along with a slight tingling in my ears due to the Beta-Alanine but am by no means jittery or agitated. The day continues on and I brew another cup of coffee of similar strength and begin to brainstorm ideas for writing. Later, roughly 7:15 pm, right before volleyball I will most likely consume a 250ml can of Red Rain (80mg of caffeine). This will bring my daily total consumption to 500-530 mg of caffeine. That’s roughly 100mg above the recommended daily intake of 400mg. However, this total is actually down from my average daily intake just three or four years ago. During this time my intake was closer to 1000mg per day due to the intense pre-workout I was taking, more on that later.

Growing up in a household where coffee was an every day staple for my parents it’s easy to see how that tradition carried over. I began consuming about 1-2 energy drinks a day in highschool. Usually one before football or basketball practice and then one later at night to stay awake and ‘study’. There’s no doubt my consumption effected my quality of sleep and probably still does today. Like any drug the effects start to diminish and so your intake starts to increase. By the time I was in University my intake was at an all time high. I would take a double scoop of pre-workout called 1MR which contained 300mg of caffeine per scoop. The first few times in the gym my face literally felt like it was melting. The scary part is that feeling eventually went away with continued use. This brand of pre-workout used to actually brag and advertise that one scoop of their formula was equivalent to three scoops of their competitors; they weren’t lying. I don’t know if some health board came down on them hard or they had lawsuits or what happened but they’ve now gone through two changes to their formula to tone it down and now refer to it as 1MR Vortex. Crazy it even still exists to be honest. Eventually I realized that what I was doing was going to lead me to a very early death or at the very least major health problems. Over the passed few months I’ve taken days completely off from caffeine and haven’t had that bad of a withdrawal. I drink a little more water to combat my light headache but other than that and being tired obviously I’m usually not bad at all. I think I’m lucky there.

I’ve often thought what the world would look like if caffeine was wrongly outlawed in the place of marijuana back in the 1920’s. Society would look very different today, for better or for worse. I don’t like to say it but I’m more productive with caffeine in my system than without, I think anyone who regularly consumes it would agree. Which, if Neil’s study is correct, happens to be a staggering majority of us. Although I don’t recommend consuming anywhere near the amount I tend to, in moderation it’s fantastic. It can improve mood, boost metabolism, and obviously increase wakefulness. But let’s be realistic you’ve had it before, everybody has. I just ruined some staunchly anti-drug persons’ night. “I’ve never consumed any drugs in my life!” Right. Keep on keeping on, you bloody drug addict you.

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