Answer quickly: What is caffeine used for?

Your answer was likely along the lines of “getting me out of bed in the morning.” It’s become the norm for people to start their day with a cup of coffee or tea, two very common sources of caffeine.

Some people turn to energy drinks for a midday jolt of caffeine to get them through the afternoon. Students often use coffee to stay awake longer to study for exams. Others might like a cup of tea after a big meal to combat sleepiness. For most of us, this energy boost is why we use caffeine.


Beyond the Energy Boost: Caffeine’s Other Hidden Benefit

What many don’t realize is that there are other reasons to incorporate caffeine into a healthy diet. The quick stimulant benefit of caffeine is only part of the story. In addition to a feeling of energy, caffeine stimulation brings with it something called thermogenesis.

Thermogenesis is a process our bodies use to produce heat, and this process requires calories. When you consume caffeine in proper quantities, it can assist thermogenesis, creating a temporary boost to your metabolism and helping you burn a few more calories.

Caffeine also works on your nervous system directly, causing heightened alertness. This stimulation may also cause an increased ability to focus, although this benefit has been studied in young adults and is not certain for all consumers. A little bit of caffeine before visiting the gym or aerobic dance class may make these types of exercise seem easier to some people.


Good Sources of Caffeine + Ideal Intake

You can find caffeine in coffee beverages of course, and in foods like chocolate. And because caffeine may boost metabolism and help with exercise, many dietary supplements also contain caffeine.

Both green and black tea contain caffeine. Tea can also supply antioxidant botanical subcomponents, making it a great way to get a dose of caffeine.

Of course, like anything else, the rule of moderation applies. Pay attention to your body’s reaction to caffeine, for tolerances can vary from person to person. Be aware of the possible, unpleasant side effects that come with too much caffeine, and adjust your intake accordingly.

Generally speaking, for healthy individuals without a caffeine tolerance concern, a good intake is at or under 300 mg a day, which works out to be roughly three cups of regular coffee. This allows you to still get the benefits of caffeine while avoiding that jittery, overcaffeinated feeling.


There is a place for caffeine in your diet and it’s important to find that place to reap the benefits.