A Closer Look at Caffeine


By Jason Rickaby- CEO & Founder PhD Nutrition

Caffeine seems to promote a love/hate relationship throughout society. Most of us use caffeine at some point through our day, some of us seem to think that it’s bad for us and try hard to cut it out of our diets, but lots of us don’t seem to know why. The truth is, like most things in life, too much of a good thing, can be a bad thing. This is definitely the case with caffeine.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the methylxanthine class.  It is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive drug. Unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world. There are several known mechanisms of action to explain the effects of caffeine. The most prominent is that it reversibly blocks the action of adenosine on its receptor and consequently prevents the onset of drowsiness induced by adenosine. Caffeine also stimulates certain portions of the autonomic nervous system.

Why do most of us use Caffeine?

Because caffeine is shown to block adenosine on it’s receptor and prevent drowsiness, we all use caffeine to exhibit feelings of alertness. A huge portion of the population use caffeine in their morning and mid-morning cups of tea or coffee for this exact reason.

Caffeine and memory

Caffeine is actually a pretty wonderful ingredient, when used in sensible levels. It may even help us boost our memory. A study at John Hopkins University showed that a 200mg serving of Caffeine helped boost memory consolidation (1).

Caffeine and driving performance

Caffeine has been shown in studies to improve driving performance when you are tired (2). Now this may seem obvious, given we have already read that caffeine increases alertness, but it’s extremely relevant and also, really important. How many of us operate in a semi-exhausted state on a day to day basis? How many of us suffer lack of sleep? For a number of reasons, most of us experience both on a regular basis and getting behind a wheel in this state is dangerous to ourselves and the general public. PhD Amino Drive powder or canned drink is designed largely for this reason- to promote all day energy and help us stay alert.

Caffeine image 2

Caffeine increases stamina and performance during exercise.

Now most of us will have felt this one, but now we know it to be true. The journal of strength and conditioning research conducted a systematic review of 29 studies related to caffeine and athletic performance and found that 11 out of 17 studies showed that using caffeine before exercise yielded significant improvements in exercise performance (you can find Caffeine in the best-selling PhD Pre WKT PERFORM. It also found that 6 from 11 studies revealed benefits of caffeine use during resistance training.

Caffeine may prevent weight gain

A study shown in the European journal of Clinical nutrition, in 2016 showed that caffeine intake is related to successful weight loss maintenance (3). Most of us in the fitness world have known about this for years, it’s why brands like PhD have been using Caffeine in successful weight loss products (Like PhD Lean Degree) since the early 2000’s.

How much Caffeine should we use?

A question we often here at PhD is how much caffeine is safe? We all want to promote health and fitness as a wellness enterprise after all.

Health authorities have arrived at a figure of 350-400mg as a safe level for healthy adults. (Note some pre-workout products contain 400mg per serving so you should always be cautious about using these products). Note that this level is for healthy adults. If you are suffering from any illness at all, the safe level will be much lower and you should always consult your GP or health adviser if you are concerned at all about caffeine intake. The same health authorities have arrived at a safe level of 100mg for children between 13-18 years of age and of course, children under 13 should avoid caffeine.

So, there you have a simple crash course on caffeine and the many positive effects it can have on performance and your daily life. Just always remember to be safe and not over consume caffeine, because in reality there is no need to use more than the safe daily amount. In this case, more does not equal better.

Here’s how various PhD products that contain caffeine, stack up on numbers:

1 serving of PhD Amino drive powder= 100mg caffeine

1 serving of PhD Pre WKF PERFORM powder = 100mg of caffeine

1 Amino Drive can = 180mg caffeine

1 serving of VMX 2 shot = 200mg caffeine.

1 serving of PhD Lean Degree Max strength = 200mg caffeine


1. Daniel BorotaElizabeth MurrayGizem KeceliAllen ChangJoseph M Watabe, Maria LyJohn P Toscano.  Michael A Yassa. Post-study caffeine administration enhances memory consolidation in humans. Nature Neuroscience 17, 201–203 (2014), doi:10.1038/nn.3623

2. Sarah N.BiggsabAndrewSmithcJillDorrianabKathrynReiddDrewDawsonbCameronvan den, HeuvelbStuartBaulkb. Perception of simulated driving performance after sleep restriction and caffeine. Journal of Psychosomatic ResearchVolume 63, Issue 6.

3. D IckenS FellerS EngeliA MayrA MüllerA Hilbert & M de Zwaan. Caffeine intake is related to successful weight loss maintenance. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2016

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