E03 - Why smart people regulate their coffee intake

Learn how time and volume of caffeine intake significantly affect your ability to focus throughout the day.

What you’ll learn today:

  • The pros and cons of caffeine

  • How to time coffee intake for best performance

  • How much coffee to drink

  • Our Community Challenge: Put it into action with the habit loop

This week’s community challenge

Don’t drink coffee for the first 90 minutes of the day.

- Lemmy, the Attention Master

Episode #3

Hi, my name is Lemmy and this is my story about how I became The Attention Master. This is episode #3. If you want to read how this journey started, you can find all my adventures here.

Last week I taught you why breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. Today, I want to make you aware of another misconception that 99% of all people have, and it’s all about your daily portion of “the black gold”.

1. Should I drink coffee after all?

Good news my dear coffee addict. According to science, caffeine can help you thrive:

  • Exercise: Athletes use it to improve endurance, power output, and reaction time during physical exertion.

  • Focus: Caffeine can increase alertness within about five minutes of ingestion, peaking around 30 minutes and persisting for as long as 60 minutes.

  • Learning & Memory: Caffeine eases the circulation of neurons in the brain.

  • Happiness: Caffeine increases the number of receptors that dopamine can interact with, therefore making any dopamine-releasing experience more intense.

!!! However, chronic caffeine use can increase anxiety levels and change brain connectivity. So don’t exaggerate.

2. The volume is crucial for your health

Most people do quite well to ingest 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine (= a double espresso shot) prior to doing some focused work. Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman suggests:

I consider a range of 1 to 3 milligrams of caffeine per kg of body weight as a good starting point as the total amount of caffeine ingested in one drink. If you drink caffeine multiple times throughout the day, you might ingest this amount twice per day, ideally separated by about four hours. However, it's important to be aware of your individual response to caffeine.

Good to know, too:

  • The performance-enhancing effects are most dramatic after a few days of abstaining from caffeine.

  • Consuming caffeine on an empty stomach can also enhance its effects.

  • Hydration with your caffeine intake is crucial, ideally with a small amount of sodium or an electrolyte drink to avoid feeling nervous and shakily.

3. Tired despite coffee? A vicious cycle of bad timing!

99% of us drink coffee first thing in the morning. Of course, quite often we don’t sleep as much or as well as we should. So, we need something that wakes us up. Coffee is the obvious choice.

And it works. Instantly. BUT: it comes at a high cost when you drink it directly after getting up. You will enter the vicious cycle of being tired throughout the whole day. And feeling sleepy is the biggest enemy of mastering your attention. Here’s what happens:

From the moment you wake up and throughout the day, a “sleep chemical” called adenosine builds up in your brain. While caffeine keeps the sleep chemical away from your brain, adenosine continues to build up in your body regardless. Once the caffeine is out of your system, all the accumulated adenosine pressures into your brain at once. This usually happens in the afternoon. So, the afternoon crash does not only come from heavy meals, but from your morning coffee.

But it goes on peeps. To fight the afternoon crash, we drink more coffee as we should and later in the day as we should. This can disrupt the architecture of your sleep. If you don’t sleep well or deeply enough the night before, you are going to have more adenosine in your system next morning. So you start the new day even more tired than the one before. And guess how you fight it: with even more coffee all day long.

Welcome to the vicious cycle of always feeling tired despite being a coffee addict! What you should do instead:

  • Delay your first coffee by 90 to 120 minutes after waking up.

  • 4h between your first and second coffee.

  • Last caffeine intake between 2-3 p.m.

Lemmy's Hack to put it into action with the Habit Loop method

I know, skipping coffee is almost harder than skipping breakfast. And typically, we recommend some concrete Trigger - Action - Reward protocols here. But today, it’s a looooot easier.

Your TRIGGER is waking up (or a stop note on your coffee cup); and your REWARD is a nice cup of coffee 2h later. The question is: what to do in between?

Here are some tips to get alert as quickly as possible without coffee:

  1. Natural sunlight: Why this works wonders, I will explain to you in a full episode next time.

  2. Exercise: Do 10 push-ups or a 1 min plank. Exercise raises your body temperature, which aligns with mental alertness. Secondly, it triggers the release of neuromodulators like adrenaline, which heighten arousal.

  3. Cold Water: Either cold shower or at least expose your face, neck, arms, and palms to cold water for 30s. It will release adrenaline.

  4. Hydration: Drinking a glass of water right after waking up helps kickstart your metabolism and increases blood circulation, promoting wakefulness.

  5. Movement: Engaging in light exercise, like stretching, yoga, or a brisk walk, can increase blood flow and oxygen levels, helping you feel more awake.

Last but not least, I know you drink coffee for the taste, too. But I am sure you’ll find a nice replacement for a kick-start into your day. My favorite: A tea with real ginger and real lemon juice, topped up with ¼ teaspoon of salt for the taste and electrolytes. Try it and let me know whether you liked it or not.

See ya next week
Lemmy

P.S. For the sporty ones

Recap:

  • Community Challenge: No coffee first 90 minutes of the day.

  • Coffee is healthy and performance enhancing when timed and dosed.

  • Dose: Limit to 2 caffeine drinks per day.

  • Time: 4h gap between your 2 drinks and no later than 3pm.

  • Natural wake up boosters: Sunlight, exercise, cold water, hydration, and movement.

Sources:

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