Tag Archives: water

Caffeine free living

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Caffeine-free living isn’t very common in the western world, so a lot of people are surprised to learn I never drink coffee or any caffeinated beverages. Some people claim they can’t function without it – the very definition of addiction. In fact, caffeine addiction is the only socially approved chemical addiction throughout the world, with the exception of nicotine in increasingly fewer places. Several cups of coffee throughout the day is considered de rigueur at many jobs.

One of the reasons I don’t consume caffeine is because I do not like the idea of becoming addicted to any chemicals, even if caffeine isn’t all that dangerous at normal doses. Another reason is that instead of relying on caffeine to help stimulate me in the morning, I’d rather make sure I get enough sleep. Caffeine may help you overcome morning grogginess, but it can’t undo the damage caused by lack of sleep.

Instead of caffeine, I put a lot of red pepper on my breakfast, or I take it by the spoon. And/or I do some quick exercises while listening to music. Red pepper can be very stimulating, but unlike caffeine it isn’t addictive and doesn’t lead to withdrawal. Simply drinking water to rehydrate after so many hours of sleep also helps. Eating healthy, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are all you need for optimal energy.

As much as I don’t like caffeine, I won’t deny that it appears to be beneficial for some forms of exercise. According to the Laboratory of Pharmacology, Faculty of medicine, University of Sfax, Tunisia that did a study on the Effects of morning caffeine’ ingestion on mood States, simple reaction time, and short-term maximal performance on elite judoists.:

In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that morning caffeine ingestion has ergogenic properties with the potential to benefit performance, increase anxiety and vigor, and decrease the simple reaction time.

I still wouldn’t want to use it after reading this. There are many other studies out there showing how caffeine is beneficial for exercise.

One of the biggest negatives of caffeine consumption is that it appears to promote fibrocystic breasts in women. The J Natl Cancer Inst., in the study, Caffeine consumption and fibrocystic breast disease: a case-control epidemiologic study.:

In a hospital-based case-control study that included 634 women with fibrocystic breast disease and 1,066 comparison women in Connecticut, the occurrence of fibrocystic breast disease was positively associated with average daily consumption of caffeine. Women who consumed 31-250 mg of caffeine/day had a 1.5-fold increase in the odds of disease, whereas women who drank over 500 mg/day had a 2.3-fold increase in the odds. The association with caffeine consumption was especially high among women with atypical lobular hyperplasia and with sclerosing adenosis with concomitant papillomatosis or papillary hyperplasia, both of which have been associated with an increased breast cancer risk. The association was specific to fibrocystic breast disease in that there was no association of caffeine consumption with fibroadenoma or other forms of benign breast disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, fibrocysts in the breasts don’t increase the risk of cancer, but they do make it harder to detect cancer.

I posted the above studies on caffeine just to see what the science says about caffeine use. They are not a recommendation to take up coffee drinking or caffeine use if you are not already doing it. While it does improve athletic performance in many people, this doesn’t mean you absolutely must use it to become a better athlete. Even amphetamines improve athletic performance, but would you want to run the risk of amphetamine addiction, or suffer side effects, just so you can run a little faster or longer?

So while I am aware of the science of caffeine and its potential benefits, I choose not to use it. I am not being “ridiculous” or “foolish” for abstaining from caffeine. And for the record, I am not a Mormon or a member of a religious sect that forbids coffee or caffeine consumption.

Caffeine may not be a hard drug, but it isn’t harmless either.

Can water assist in weight loss?

Our bodies are about 60% water. We could not live without water. Our most ancient ancestors evolved in water, which may be why almost all life is dependent on it. A few species, like the land-dwelling ancestors of whales, were even pulled back into the water by evolutionary forces to become aquatic mammals.

But could this most ubiquitous, and essential of substances help with weight loss? It sounds crazy to ask, since, if the solution to being overweight were that simple, then why are so many of us fat?

A quick look at the scientific literature lead to an interesting study on children in: Int J Obes (Lond). 2011 Oct;35, by Dubnov-Raz G, Constantini NW, Yariv H, Nice S, Shapira N. – Influence of water drinking on resting energy expenditure in overweight children:

CONCLUSIONS:

This study demonstrated an increase of up to 25% in REE following the drinking of 10 ml kg(-1) of cold water in overweight children, lasting for over 40 min. Consuming the recommended daily amount of water for children could result in an energy expenditure equivalent to an additional weight loss of about 1.2 kg per year. These findings reinforce the concept of water-induced REE elevation shown in adults, suggesting that water drinking could assist overweight children in weight loss or maintenance, and may warrant emphasis in dietary guidelines against the obesity epidemic.

This is remarkable. While the amount of weight loss would be modest, it was still statistically significant.

It looks like the potential weight loss was due to water raising their REE(Resting energy expenditure). What this also suggests is that one of the keys to losing weight or keeping it off is to maximize our REE. Obviously, this can be achieved through exercise, but it may be more important to not be inactive(sitting down for several hours) for extended periods of time, since this can negate the effects of regular exercise.

It must be noted that this was just one study; follow up studies on water could fail to replicate the findings of the first one, especially when you consider how the potential for weight loss was almost statistically insignificant. Also, this study was done on children, so the findings may not apply to adults, and the study concerned the potential for weight loss, not actual weight loss.

Still, it is a sound idea for the weight conscious to drink water instead of calorie containing drinks. So if you’re struggling to lose weight, among all the other things you are doing, fill yourself up with water before meals or if you are experiencing cravings.