Within the circles of endurance sports, athletes and coaches are perpetually in search of dietary interventions that can not only enhance performance but also expedite recovery. The study titled “Coffee Increases Post-Exercise Muscle Glycogen Recovery in Endurance Athletes: A Randomised Clinical Trial” provides a groundbreaking insight into how decaffeinated coffee may play an influential role in post-exercise muscle glycogen resynthesis, a crucial aspect of recovery for endurance athletes.
The Role of Muscle Glycogen in Endurance Sports
Understanding Glycogen’s Function
Glycogen serves as the primary storage form of carbohydrates in the body and is a key fuel source during prolonged, intense exercise. The ability to rapidly replenish glycogen stores post-exercise is a cornerstone of effective recovery and subsequent performance.
The Study’s Findings on Glycogen Resynthesis
The study presents compelling evidence suggesting that the intake of decaf coffee, when paired with milk, significantly enhances the resynthesis of muscle glycogen after exhaustive exercise compared to the ingestion of milk alone. This is visually represented in the study’s Figure 1, which illustrates the glucose and insulin responses to the two different beverages.
Methodology and Participant Selection
The researchers designed a meticulous and robust methodology to investigate the effects of decaf coffee on muscle glycogen recovery. Through a double-blind crossover randomized clinical trial, they provided substantial data that could alter the nutritional practices of endurance athletes worldwide. The detailed selection and exclusion criteria, depicted in Figure 3 of the study, underscore the validity and reliability of the findings.
The Biochemical Impact of Decaf Coffee
Decaf Coffee and Insulin Sensitivity
It was found that decaf coffee significantly affected metabolic responses post-exercise. Notably, it increased the total area under the curve (AUC) for insulin, as illustrated in Figures 2 and 3 of the study (see above). This enhanced insulin response is conducive to more efficient glycogen storage, facilitating a faster recovery process.
Potential Mechanisms at Play
While the study does not definitively pinpoint the mechanisms through which decaf coffee augments glycogen resynthesis, it hypothesizes that coffee’s bioactive compounds, such as caffeine, cafestol, and caffeic acid, may improve glucose metabolism and promote muscle glycogen recovery when consumed post-exercise. This is an area ripe for further research, as understanding the underlying mechanisms can lead to more targeted nutritional strategies for athletes.
Practical Applications for Endurance Training
Integrating Decaf Coffee into Recovery Protocols
Given the study’s findings, athletes and coaches might consider incorporating decaf coffee into post-exercise nutrition. The evidence suggests that doing so could significantly impact recovery times and preparedness for subsequent training sessions or competitive events.
Considerations for Daily Training
The implications of this study are particularly relevant for athletes undergoing daily training sessions or back-to-back competitive events where the window for recovery is limited. The potential for decaf coffee to expedite glycogen resynthesis could be a game-changer in such scenarios.
Future Directions: Impact of Decaf Coffee
The study concludes that the addition of decaf coffee to a carbohydrate-rich post-exercise beverage is an effective strategy to enhance muscle glycogen recovery, especially for athletes with short recovery times or during competitions with multiple bouts of exercise. However, the exact components of coffee that drive this effect remain unidentified, warranting further investigation.
Bloating is an uncomfortable and often embarrassing symptom that plagues many individuals. It can arise from various causes, including dietary choices. One of the beverages often scrutinized in this context is coffee. While it’s a beloved morning ritual for millions worldwide, coffee’s potential connection to bloating raises important questions about its impact on digestive health.
The Brewing Concern: Is Coffee Behind the Bloat?
Coffee, a morning necessity for countless individuals, has long been associated with certain digestive discomforts. Bloating, characterized by a sensation of fullness and abdominal discomfort due to trapped gas, is one such concern. Several factors within coffee are believed to contribute to this issue:
Acidity: Coffee is naturally acidic, which can stimulate the stomach’s production of gastric acid. Increased stomach acid can lead to bloating and discomfort, particularly in individuals with sensitive stomachs.
Caffeine Content: The caffeine in coffee is a known stimulant that can speed up the digestive process. While this may aid some people, it can lead to rapid food transit through the gastrointestinal tract, potentially causing bloating.
Gut Microbiota: Coffee can impact the balance of gut bacteria. Alterations in the gut microbiota may contribute to digestive discomfort and bloating in some individuals.
The Role of Caffeine: A Double-Edged Sword
Caffeine, a central component of coffee, plays a pivotal role in this digestive puzzle. It’s known to have both stimulatory and laxative effects, which can affect the gastrointestinal system differently from person to person. The caffeine in coffee can act as a diuretic, increasing urine production and potentially leading to dehydration. Dehydration can cause the body to retain water, leading to bloating and discomfort.
Decaf Coffee: A Potential Solution?
For those who love the taste and ritual of coffee but want to avoid potential digestive discomfort, decaffeinated coffee might seem like a logical choice. However, there’s a catch: decaf coffee is not entirely caffeine-free.
Recent studies have revealed that decaffeinated coffee often contains trace amounts of caffeine. While these levels are significantly lower than in regular coffee, they may still affect individuals who are sensitive to caffeine or prone to bloating. But I Love Decaf’s coffee offers 99-100% caffeine-free coffee, try it, but in small amounts if you bloat easily from normal coffee.
Navigating Bloating: Tips for Coffee Lovers
If you’re a coffee lover who occasionally experiences bloating, there’s no need to bid farewell to your beloved brew. Instead, consider these tips to help minimize the risk of bloating:
Choose Low-Acidity Coffee: Opt for coffee brands that advertise low acidity. These options may be gentler on the stomach and less likely to trigger excessive gastric acid production.
Limit Caffeine Intake: If caffeine appears to be a bloating culprit for you, consider switching to decaffeinated coffee or exploring caffeine-free alternatives.
Moderation is Key: Enjoy coffee in moderation. Limiting your daily intake can reduce the risk of overstimulating your digestive system.
Stay Hydrated: Counteract coffee’s diuretic effect by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Proper hydration can help reduce bloating.
Monitor Your Body: Pay attention to how your body reacts to coffee. If you notice a strong association between coffee consumption and bloating, it may be wise to seek alternatives.
The relationship between coffee and bloating is a complex and individualized one. While coffee’s acidity and caffeine content can contribute to discomfort for some, others may find it has no such effect. Decaffeinated coffee, although lower in caffeine, isn’t entirely devoid of it, potentially affecting those who are caffeine-sensitive.
Ultimately, the key is understanding your own body and its reactions to coffee. By making informed choices and moderating your coffee consumption, you can continue to enjoy your daily cup without the discomfort of bloating. If necessary, exploring low-acid or decaffeinated options may offer a more comfortable coffee experience.
Caffeine, that ever-present stimulant in your morning cup of joe, can have its downsides. It can lead to restlessness, a racing heart, and other not-so-fun side effects. This has fueled the rise in popularity of decaffeinated (decaf) coffee. Fortunately, decaf coffee offers many of the health benefits of its caffeinated counterpart, minus the jitters.
So, is decaf coffee good or bad for you? Let’s explore the key aspects of decaf coffee, its benefits, and potential downsides.
How Much Caffeine Is in Decaf Coffee?
Decaf coffee originates from berries harvested from the Coffea plant, and it undergoes a decaffeination process to reduce its caffeine content. Despite the name, decaf coffee isn’t entirely caffeine-free. The level of caffeine in decaf coffee can vary based on factors like geographical region, brand, and preparation method.
Generally, the decaffeination process removes about 97% of caffeine from coffee beans. A typical cup of decaf contains approximately 2 milligrams of caffeine, compared to the 95 milligrams found in a cup of regular coffee1.
7 Benefits of Decaf Coffee
Offers Coffee Benefits Without the Jitters: Caffeine interferes with adenosine, a key regulator of sleep. This can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to anxiety. Decaf coffee allows you to enjoy the benefits of coffee without these negative effects.
Poses a Lower Risk of GI Issues: For some, caffeine can upset the gastrointestinal tract. Decaf coffee is gentler on the stomach, making it a better choice for individuals with conditions like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Contains Antioxidants: Decaf coffee contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, lowering the risk of certain diseases and cancers.
May Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome: Diets rich in phenolic acid, a component of coffee, can lower the risk of conditions leading to metabolic syndrome, including high blood pressure and abdominal obesity.
It’s a Good Option During Pregnancy: Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy is generally considered safe. For pregnant individuals who want to limit their caffeine intake, decaf coffee is a suitable choice.
May Lower Risk of Liver Disease and Type 2 Diabetes: Both regular and decaf coffee have been linked to a lower risk of liver cancer. Additionally, coffee consumption, whether caffeinated or decaf, is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
May Offer Neuroprotective Benefits: Research suggests that coffee consumption is linked to a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Compounds found in both caffeinated and decaf coffee, such as phenylindane, play a neuroprotective role2.
Drawbacks of Decaf Coffee
While decaf coffee aims to preserve the flavor of regular coffee without the caffeine, the decaffeination process can alter its taste. Some consider decaf coffee to have a thinner flavor profile, often attributed to compounds known as pyrazines.
Which Is Healthier: Decaf or Regular Coffee?
The choice between decaf and regular coffee largely depends on your caffeine tolerance. Decaf coffee is suitable for individuals sensitive to caffeine’s effects on the gastrointestinal system or blood pressure. However, if you’re seeking coffee’s cognitive benefits, caffeinated varieties might be preferable.
The ideal intake of decaf coffee varies based on individual factors like age, health, and caffeine sensitivity. Nutritionists suggest limiting coffee consumption to no more than three cups a day and focusing on maintaining proper hydration and a balanced diet.
So, is decaf coffee good or bad for you? The answer depends on your personal preferences and health considerations. Whether you opt for decaf or regular coffee, take the time to savour your brew and relish the moments it offers3.
When exploring the world of decaf coffee, it’s essential to consider your individual preferences, health needs, and goals. Here are a few additional aspects to keep in mind:
1. Flavor Variations: While decaf coffee aims to preserve the flavor of regular coffee, some individuals may notice subtle differences in taste due to the decaffeination process. These variations can be attributed to compounds like pyrazines. However, coffee enthusiasts often find that the unique flavor of decaf coffee is still highly enjoyable.
2. Preparation and Additions: The way you prepare your decaf coffee matters. Avoiding excessive sugar and high-fat creamers can help maintain a healthy cup of coffee. Opt for healthier alternatives like almond or oat milk and moderate sweeteners if desired.
3. Brewing Methods: The choice of brewing method can also influence the taste and aroma of your decaf coffee. Experiment with different brewing techniques to find the one that suits your palate best.
4. Mindful Consumption: Coffee, whether decaf or regular, offers more than just a caffeine fix. It can be a ritual, a moment to pause and reconnect with yourself. Embrace the ceremonial value of coffee, savor each sip, and take a few deep breaths while enjoying your brew.
In conclusion, decaf coffee has a range of potential health benefits and can be a great option for individuals seeking to reduce their caffeine intake or avoid its negative effects. However, the choice between decaf and regular coffee should be based on your personal preferences, health considerations, and tolerance to caffeine. Ultimately, the decision of whether decaf coffee is “good” or “bad” for you depends on how it aligns with your lifestyle and wellness goals.
Remember that coffee, in all its forms, can be a delightful part of your daily routine. Whether you choose decaf or regular, embrace the rich flavors and comforting moments that coffee can provide. So, brew a cup, savor the aroma, and enjoy your coffee experience to the fullest!
Welcome to the wonderful world of decaf coffee, where you can enjoy the rich flavors and aromas of your favorite beverage without the buzz. In this informative article, we’ll explore the fascinating findings presented by the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest and delve into the I LOVE DECAF spirit. Get ready to discover how decaf coffee can help reduce caffeine withdrawal, even when you know it’s decaf!
Understanding Caffeine Withdrawal: For those who have experienced the caffeine rollercoaster, caffeine withdrawal is no stranger. Symptoms such as headaches, irritability, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating can accompany the decision to cut back on caffeine. While decaf coffee may not completely eliminate these symptoms, research suggests it can provide a gentler transition and alleviate some of the discomfort associated with caffeine withdrawal.
The Power of the Placebo Effect: The Research Digest study reveals an intriguing phenomenon—the placebo effect’s influence on caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Participants who believed they were consuming regular coffee but were actually drinking decaf experienced milder withdrawal symptoms compared to those who knowingly consumed decaf. This fascinating finding highlights the significant role our mindset plays in shaping our experiences.
I LOVE DECAF: Spreading Joyful Coffee Moments: At I LOVE DECAF, we celebrate the joy of savoring coffee without the caffeine jitters. Our mission is to provide decaf coffee enthusiasts with an extraordinary selection of premium decaf blends that deliver on taste and aroma. We understand that coffee is not just a beverage but a source of comfort, indulgence, and connection. With every cup, we aim to create delightful moments and help you embrace the decaf lifestyle with a smile.
The Psychological Power of Rituals: Beyond the physical effects, the act of sipping a warm cup of coffee holds immense psychological power. Rituals surrounding coffee, such as the familiar aroma, the cozy setting, and the soothing ritual of preparation, can have a profound impact on our well-being. Decaf coffee allows us to maintain these rituals while reducing caffeine intake, nurturing a sense of contentment and relaxation.
Exploring the Decaf Flavor Spectrum: Contrary to popular belief, decaf coffee doesn’t mean compromising on taste. At I LOVE DECAF, we curate a wide range of decaf blends from different regions and roasting profiles, ensuring you’ll find the perfect cup that tickles your taste buds. From smooth and chocolatey to bright and fruity, our decaf offerings are carefully crafted to provide a delicious and satisfying coffee experience, minus the caffeine.
Empowering Choices and Well-being: By choosing decaf coffee, you’re making a conscious decision to prioritize your well-being and embrace a balanced lifestyle. Whether it’s reducing caffeine intake, managing sensitivity, or simply exploring new flavors, decaf coffee empowers you to take control of your coffee journey. It’s a testament to self-care and self-discovery, allowing you to enjoy the pleasures of coffee without the potential drawbacks of excessive caffeine consumption.
As we conclude this decaf coffee adventure, let’s celebrate the power of choice and the wonders of the placebo effect. Decaf coffee can alleviate caffeine withdrawal symptoms, even when you know it’s decaf, thanks to the psychological influence of our beliefs. With I LOVE DECAF as your companion, you can embark on a flavorful journey, discovering decaf blends that suit your taste preferences and contribute to your overall well-being. So raise your decaf cup high and embrace the love for decaf, knowing that every sip brings you closer to a blissful coffee experience.
Introduction: The age-old question of whether it’s okay to drink decaf coffee before bed has left many coffee lovers puzzled. In this article, we delve into the insights provided by PVHC (Pomona Valley Health Centers) to shed light on the subject. By examining the facts and dispelling myths, we aim to help you make an informed decision about enjoying a cup of decaf coffee in the evening.
Understanding the Effects of Decaf Coffee: In general, it takes your body approximately six hours to eliminate half of the caffeine consumed. However, decaf coffee contains significantly less caffeine than its regular counterpart, typically ranging from 2 to 15 milligrams per cup. This low caffeine content makes it unlikely for decaf coffee to have a substantial impact on sleep quality when consumed in moderation.
Individual Sensitivity to Caffeine: While decaf coffee is considered low in caffeine, individual sensitivity plays a crucial role. Some individuals are more sensitive to even trace amounts of caffeine, which can disrupt their sleep patterns. If you find that even minimal caffeine affects your sleep, it may be wise to avoid consuming decaf coffee before bed.
Factors Affecting Sleep Quality: It’s important to note that factors other than decaf coffee consumption can significantly influence sleep quality. Lifestyle choices, stress levels, evening habits, and overall sleep hygiene are vital contributors to a good night’s rest. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, establishing a calming bedtime routine, and minimizing stimulating activities before bed are essential for optimal sleep regardless of coffee consumption.
Potential Benefits of Decaf Coffee Before Bed: Interestingly, decaf coffee offers potential health benefits beyond its impact on sleep. The presence of bioactive compounds and antioxidants in decaf coffee has been associated with reducing the risk of certain diseases, including type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Enjoying a cup of decaf coffee before bed can provide a comforting and pleasurable ritual, helping individuals unwind and relax.
Personal Preference and Tolerance: Ultimately, the decision to drink decaf coffee before bed depends on personal preference and tolerance. Some individuals may find that decaf coffee has no adverse effects on their sleep, while others may prefer to avoid it altogether. It’s crucial to listen to your body, evaluate how decaf coffee affects your sleep patterns, and make choices accordingly.
Conclusion: In conclusion, moderate consumption of decaf coffee before bed is generally considered safe for most individuals. The minimal caffeine content in decaf coffee makes it unlikely to disrupt sleep quality. However, individual sensitivity to caffeine should be taken into account. Additionally, maintaining good sleep hygiene practices and considering other lifestyle factors contribute more significantly to overall sleep quality.
Decaf coffee can be a delightful part of your evening routine, providing a sense of comfort and potentially offering health benefits. By being aware of your personal preferences, listening to your body, and practicing good sleep habits, you can make an informed decision about enjoying a cup of decaf coffee before bed. Remember, everyone’s sleep needs and responses are unique, so find what works best for you and savor your decaf coffee with peace of mind.
Introduction: In a world where coffee is often associated with a morning jolt of energy, it’s easy to overlook the lesser-known counterpart: decaf coffee. While decaf has long been perceived as a compromise in taste and quality, recent scientific studies are challenging these misconceptions. In this article, we delve into a groundbreaking study that sheds light on the potential health benefits of decaf coffee. Get ready to discover the hidden wonders of your favorite caffeine-free brew.
Unmasking the Study: The study in question, titled “Decaffeinated Coffee: A Health-Promoting Beverage,” was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. Conducted by a team of researchers, this comprehensive analysis aimed to explore the potential health benefits associated with consuming decaf coffee.
The Power of Antioxidants: One key finding from the study revolves around the abundant presence of antioxidants in decaf coffee. Antioxidants are powerful compounds that help protect our cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals. The researchers discovered that decaf coffee contains a significant amount of antioxidants, similar to its caffeinated counterpart. This suggests that decaf coffee could contribute to reducing oxidative stress in the body, potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases.
Shielding Against Chronic Diseases: Another noteworthy aspect of the study is the potential protective effect of decaf coffee against various chronic conditions. The researchers found evidence indicating that decaf coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of certain diseases, including type 2 diabetes, liver diseases, and certain types of cancer. Although further research is needed to establish a definitive link, these initial findings are promising and offer a new perspective on the health benefits of decaf coffee.
Supporting Brain Health: Caffeine is often credited for boosting cognitive function, but what about decaf coffee? The study suggests that decaf coffee might have its own role to play in supporting brain health. Researchers discovered that decaf coffee consumption was associated with a reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. While the exact mechanisms behind this protective effect are not fully understood, it appears that the rich antioxidant profile and other bioactive compounds present in decaf coffee may contribute to brain health.
Digestive Wellness: The study also explored the potential benefits of decaf coffee on gut health. Emerging evidence suggests that decaf coffee, much like its caffeinated counterpart, might have a positive impact on the gut microbiome. Preliminary findings indicate that decaf coffee consumption could support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and improve gut barrier function. These effects could have implications for digestive wellness and overall gut health.
Conclusion: As our understanding of decaf coffee evolves, it is becoming increasingly clear that it is more than just a caffeine-free alternative. The study we’ve explored highlights the presence of antioxidants, the potential protective effects against chronic diseases, the support for brain health, and the positive impact on the gut microbiome. It’s time to reshape our perception of decaf coffee and embrace it as a health-promoting beverage.
So, the next time you sip on a cup of decaf coffee, relish in the knowledge that you’re not just indulging in a comforting drink, but potentially nourishing your body and safeguarding your health. Cheers to the extraordinary benefits of decaf coffee, waiting to be discovered with every flavorful sip.
Do you rely on caffeine to get through the day, but find yourself struggling with caffeine cravings and sleep disturbances at night? A recent study suggests that switching to decaf coffee may be the answer to your problems.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK, involved 126 participants who regularly consumed coffee. Over a four-week period, the participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: one group was instructed to replace one cup of regular coffee per day with decaf coffee, one group was instructed to replace two cups of regular coffee per day with decaf coffee, and the third group was instructed to continue consuming regular coffee as usual.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the participants who had replaced at least one cup of regular coffee per day with decaf coffee reported significantly lower caffeine cravings and better sleep quality than the participants who had continued consuming regular coffee. The participants who had replaced two cups of regular coffee per day with decaf coffee reported even greater improvements in caffeine cravings and sleep quality.
So, what does this mean for coffee lovers who are struggling with caffeine-related issues? According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Russell Johnson, “our results suggest that even moderate reductions in caffeine intake can have a positive effect on sleep quality and caffeine craving.”
But what about the taste of decaf coffee, which is often criticized for being bland and boring? Here at I LOVE DECAF, we believe that decaf coffee can be just as delicious and satisfying as regular coffee – if not more so. That’s why we offer a wide range of decaf coffees made from the finest beans and roasted to perfection, so you can enjoy the full-bodied flavor and aroma of coffee without the jitters.
So, if you’re looking for a way to beat caffeine cravings and improve your sleep quality, consider making the switch to decaf coffee. With I LOVE DECAF’s delicious range of decaf coffees, you won’t have to sacrifice taste for better health.
Not all decaffeination is the same. Of the five different processes, which is the best for you?
It’s not always clear on a packet of decaf coffee or tea how the caffeine was removed. In fact, a lot of well-known brands will not tell you anywhere – not the packet, their website or FAQs – exactly how decaffeination was achieved at all.
At I Love Decaf, we’re a big fan of transparency and often detail the decaf process in the name of the product, just so there are absolutely no doubts.
While we don’t hide the details, there’s still not enough space on the label that tells you why we chose one method of decaffeination over another. So, we wanted to fill you in on everything you need to know about the methods of decaffeination available, which ones we use and why.
The method of decaffeination has a direct effect on the taste and aroma of decaf tea and coffee.
Not all methods of decaffeination were created equally. Let’s dive into the details.
There are five known methods of decaffeination. Of these, the original method is now illegal because it used benzene, which is highly toxic. The 1906 discovery of Ludwig Roselius, a man whose second claim to fame involved a plot to kill Hitler, led to a decaffeinated coffee drink that became popular in almost every country.
Neither of Roselius’ grand plans ultimately bore fruit, so that leaves four different ways to decaffeinate your coffee.
The Methylene chloride decaffeination (MC) process.
Methylene chloride (MC) is combined with caffeine molecules to make decaffeinated coffee or tea. This process can be done on either the coffee beans or tea leaves in hot water. and it is important to note that because it is only a tiny trace amount remaining, even that evaporates.
The Ethyl Acetate decaffeination methods
Ethyl acetate decaf is sometimes referred to as the “natural” method because it involves naturally occurring chemicals from fruits. This process is otherwise identical to the direct and indirect methods which use methylene chloride as a solvent.
What method do the Swiss use to decaffeinate coffee beans?
The Swiss Water Process for decaffeinated coffee – and a few teas – removes caffeine by soaking beans (or tea leaves) in hot water and passing them through activated carbon filters. The decaffeinated beans are then re-soaked in water to reintroduce the flavors.
What is carbon dioxide decaffeination
This is very much the science laboratory way of doing decaffeination and doing it well. Part of its boffinological appeal is that it involves turning carbon dioxide ‘supercritical’, which is essentially making CO2 do things well above its pay grade.
No one said making a quality cup of coffee was easy, but it’s worth it. Beans or leaves are pressure cooked with carbon dioxide which becomes temporarily capable of extracting the caffeine from the beans while still leaving the flavour molecules in place.
Learn about the Mountain Water Method of decaffeination
The Mountain Water Process (MWP) is seen as a cut above all other decaffeinated beverages. This process uses water from Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico.
To remove the caffeine, the process starts by steaming green coffee beans which then get soaked in a water solution, removing caffeine and the compounds that make the flavour. Water is drained from the soaked seeds and passed through activated carbon filters which separate the caffeine from the water. The beans are then introduced back to the decaf water and the flavours soak back in without the caffeine.
So, now you’ve gone decaf, how do you overcome the mid-afternoon mountain of doom that is the 3pm slump? The answer is all in the mind or, rather, the brain.
The brain is a brat. Your brain, my brain, your bosses’ brains are all self-obsessed, entitled, lazy bags of porridge comfortable with the high-life and quick fixes. You wouldn’t vote for your brain in a ballot if the only alternative was a brown paper sack of self-aware mashed potatoes.
The brain’s biggest character defect is that it knows its own mind and is very uncomfortable changing it. All those gallons of caffeine it’s been swimming in your whole life, along with the sugar, the processed carbs and all the other quick hits, are what it’s used to. And it wants more. Your craving brain demands you run it a warm bath of cosy slop to hang around in every day.
But you can challenge it. The brat can be changed. You already did by going decaf. A day or so of brain ache and things soon got better. Now it’s halfway through the afternoon and you’re feeling a bit limp, your brain wants you to run the bath as usual. Just once, for old time’s sake.
How to Avoid the Mid-Afternoon Slump Without Caffeine
As obstinate and lazy as a brain is, it’s also easy to out-wit. The best way out of the 3pm slump is a distraction, a change of pace, a new focus. Making your brain work in a different way means it will start making its own good time chemistry without all those artificial quick fixes.
Get out of the office for a breath of fresh air, a bit of exercise. Exercise improves blood flow, helps brain chemistry and is more effective than caffeine at improving your alertness and focus.
Take a break. Sounds straightforward enough, but we don’t mean a sandwich at your desk, take a proper break away from your work environment, take in a view
Fire up your music player with high energy sounds or something you can completely shift your focus onto. We know at least one CEO who goes even further and takes his cello into his office. That’s probably not suitable for a cubicle worker but if you’re remote working, something similar might be the ticket to get away from the grind.
Give in. Surrendering to a crafty nap might be the best thing. We are programmed for the mid-afternoon siesta,and you will definitely feel better and the longer you sleep, the longer it will last. The so-called ‘power nap’ of 10-15 minutes can recharge you for a few hours, while getting in 90 minutes of sleep will allow your brain to experience all phases of light, REM and deep sleep. Deep sleep is where our brains consolidate memory, experience and learning. No wonder that a NASA study found a 26-minute nap improved productivity by over 30%.
Prevention is Better than the Cure
Bad sleep habits like late nights, evening snacking, and staring at screens into the evening can disrupt a night’s rest and can make us tired before we even get into work. Look after the nights and the days will look after themselves.
One last way to avoid hitting the caffeine in the afternoon is to play to your body and brain’s strengths and structure your day accordingly. We are much more mentally alert in the morning and much better at taking decisions, leaving the afternoon to practical matters and dexterity.
Naturally caffeine-free coffee might not strike you as either a worthy subject for a toast or the perfect drink to charge a glass with, but the health benefits of managing the caffeine intake of you and yours could lead to better outcomes and long life. That’s something we can all raise a glass to.
So, with new discoveries in the world of caffeine awareness afoot, I Love Decaf, presents a guide to what’s going on now and in the near future.
Caffeine-free coffee beans: do they mean the end of decaffeination?
Naturally, we are all used to decaffeinated coffee. We know that, given the right beans, grind, roast and decaffeination method, there’s no need to sacrifice the great taste when we ditch the caffeine.
But could the process of decaffeination be side-stepped altogether if a bean was cultivated that had no caffeine in it at all? Coffee cultivation, like all agricultural enterprises, draws heavily on scientific principles – geology, meteorology, horticultural science, biology and botany, but as it happens, there’s no need for all the boffin ‘ologies’. There are already a few half-caff and even some no-caff coffee beans out there in the wild.
Nature beat science to it and that sounds great to us. So, why are supermarket shelves not filling up with naturally caffeine-free coffee right now? Are these naturally caffeine-free beans not suitable in some way for the big time? Is it because of a global conspiracy? Is it the warped manifesto of ‘big coffee’? Perhaps it’s a shadowy Government cabal determined to keep us as busy, wired and panic-stricken as possible? Maybe it just tastes awful, you know, like Nescafé.
None of the above. If anything, its absence from the supermarket could be down to the natural properties of caffeine itself.
Just because you want to kick it out of your coffee, the plant itself doesn’t care about your twitching eyelids or what Kid Barista at Costabucks say, caffeine has a real purpose as far as the plant is concerned.
To find out what that might be, we should look at one the most recent discoveries of naturally caffeine free coffee plants.
Un-caffeinated: the answer to decaffeination?
In the wilder corners of the world, a surprising number of new species of plants and animals are discovered all the time. An average of 10,000 a year. In 2007, however, science busted the average wide open and formally identified over 18,500 plants and animals.
Among all those breakthrough species, described scientifically for the first time, was a previously unknown coffee plant. Between a Welsh, carnivorous, white slug, a bacterium that lives in hairspray and a species of palm that tries so hard for pollination it flowers itself to death, was a naturally caffeine-free species of coffee.
Charrier Coffee – Naturally Caffeine-Free
The naturally caffeine-free coffee plant, Coffea charrieriana or Charrier Coffee, was discovered in the Bakossi Forest Reserve in Western Cameroon and is the first of its kind in Central Africa. It joins an Ethiopian un-caffeinated variety of Arabica and a Kenyan coffee plant – both recently discovered – and 30 out of 47 Indian Ocean Island varieties that are known to contain very little or no caffeine.
Scientists say that the ancestors of Charrier Coffee – like most of its ilk – diverged from caffeinated coffees around 11 million years ago. So far, so good, but at its first listing millions of years down the line, wild Charrier Coffee was given a ‘red’ critically threatened conservation status. A conservation effort is underway, but seeds have also been collected and exported for commercial cultivation in Costa Rica and Brazil.
Those who have tasted Charrier Coffee report it has a much less thick texture than Arabica and has an almost tea-like quality.
What has caffeine ever done for the coffee plant?
Its endangered status might not be purely down to the usual suspects of forest clearance and habitat loss – there could be other factors at play and caffeine content might be just as important to Charrier Coffee as it is to you and me.
Some experts believe that caffeine-containing plants are safer from certain insects, vertebrates, bacteria and fungi, the caffeine acting as a kind of pesticide to protect the seeds. If caffeine has potential to safeguard the plant, caffeine-free varieties grown at scale might offer much lower yields unless they are cultivated higher up mountains beyond the range of insect pests.
Lower yields would mean much higher prices and, indeed, initial batches of cultivated naturally caffeine-free coffee sold at significant premiums.
Caffeine kills coffee plants
The jury is still out on whether caffeine’s pesticidal qualities are really all that, though other species – principally tea and cocoa – have both evolved caffeine content independently of coffee, even though that is apparently a high-stakes adaptation. Experts point to the fact that caffeine is not only a pesticide but also has the potential to kill the very plant that produces it. Caffeine produced in plants is a by-product of other processes and is physically isolated in special cell compartments called vacuoles. Ironically, concentrated caffeine is poisonous to plant cells. Even the coffee tree, it seems, doesn’t want the caffeine and operates a network of its own toxic waste dumps.
Long before Western science started going on species collection to exotic locations all over the globe (and South Wales; remember the slug?) the world knew of naturally low caffeine species of coffee plant. Liberian Coffee is one such species.
Coffea liberica or Liberian Coffee, as the name suggests, is a native of west and central Africa from Angola and Uganda in the south to Liberia at its northern range. It has also become naturalised in the Indian Ocean Islands and southeast Asia and can be found in the Philippines, Indonesia, the Seychelles, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Malaysia.
Liberian is the third most popular bean in the world, but the dominance of Robusta and Arabica beans means it amounts only to around 1.5% of all cultivated coffee. Despite this, its caffeine content – around half of Robusta’s – means that it fetches premium prices on the coffee market. Unlike Charrier Coffee, it still does contain an appreciable dose of caffeine.
If you fancy a half-caff, I Love Decaf has a Halfway House half-caff offering if you’re not sure you want to go the whole hog right away or you just want a little bit of extra go in your juice. Its 50% decaf portion is even produced using the chemical solvent-free Swiss Water Process – another tick towards a healthy lifestyle.
Health benefits of lower caffeine
People who are sensitive to caffeine already have a reason to cut it out; it simply makes them feel unwell. They lose sleep, they have hand tremors, they might even have heart palpitations.
Almost all of us will experience some heart pounding after a coffee binge, so it’s no surprise that – almost to the exclusion of all other caffeine side effects – the heart and circulation are major concerns.
There is a lot of contradictory evidence on the effects of coffee generally on your health. Everyone seems to agree, however, that as a specific stimulant, caffeine does have real effects on your metabolism and by cutting it out, you still get to enjoy some of the positive effects of coffee without caffeine.
Nothing seems cut and dried on caffeine however – as this workshop clearly shows. Before reading that link, you might want to either complete a degree in biomedicine or be prepared to consume a few cups of strong joe to get to the end.
There are some easy takeaways though. It seems that caffeine use is safer sitting down than an hour before you go out for a run or hit the gym. Caffeine and exercise do not mix well with regards to circulation, blood pressure and heart health.