As 2017 draws to a close, my head has started spinning with all the exciting plans, news, and events which will become reality in 2018. If you are part of the 90% of the US population which consumes caffeine on a daily basis, I encourage you to take the survey below. This survey will help shape the future of GreenEyedGuide as I enter my 5th year of GreenEyedGuide.com
When I started this blog in September 2013, only 69 people visited my site that whole month. Now it’s nearly 10,000 per month. I want it to be 50,000, but I need your help. How can I make this site better? How can I better serve you, the caffeine consumer?
The video below includes a portion of GreenEyedGuide’s presentation from California State University-Fullerton, Peer Health University Network meeting. Learn how caffeine content isn’t always what it seems, how consumption changes as people get older and how caffeine helps one focus for exams.
When I was doing research for my book, “Are You A Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks-How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely”, I was disappointed over learning what guarana does.
Book Excerpt of the Week
Everything guarana can do, caffeine can do better.
Guarana is a natural source of caffeine, and many time getting caffeine from a natural source is preferable. We’ve reviewed a few energy drinks with guarana.
But unlike green tea extract, guarana doesn’t come with its own unique set of benefits.
Guarana is supposed to increase fat metabolism. So does caffeine, and a caffeine-free guarana extract didn’t show the same fat-metabolism effects.
This article is Open Access (hurray!) but, because it’s a poster presentation, it’s only two-pages long (aww….). Still, let’s dissect the details, shall we?
Is A-GPC vs Caffeine a fair fight?
According to the authors of this study, “Alpha-glycerylphophorylcholine (Alpha-GPC) and caffeine supplementation have been shownto improve mental and physical performance.”
[GEG: shown by whom? how convincingly? in what creature?]
All by itself, Alpha-GPC increases the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that affect the ways nerves function.
Neurotransmitter 101 – an excerpt from The Energy Drink Guide (written by GreenEyedGuide):
“Speaking of delivering things, a neurotransmitter is a substance that sends a signal to its neighboring cells, prompting a reaction. The neurotransmitter histamine triggers allergic reactions like a runny nose and watery eyes. Serotonin triggers a calming sensation while norepinephrine and epinephrine trigger the “Fight-or-Flight” response in stressful situations. These neurotransmitters and a few others are made from amino acids, all with the help of B6.”
Alpha-GPC supposedly facilitates learning and memory.
So does caffeine. But which one does it better?
What Happened in the Study?
In this study, twenty people got one of four treatments:
Caffeine – 200 mg
Alpha-GPC – 200 mg
Alpha-GPC – 400 mg
Placebo – ???…no helpful details of any kind…
This study was randomized and cross-over, meaning everyone got to try each of the treatments on a different day, in different orders. This study was also double-blind, placebo-controlled, which means neither the scientists nor the participants knew who got what.
When a Research Paper Lets You Down
There are two phrases that burst my bubble of nerdy excitement when I’m reading a scientific study involving caffeine: “…in laboratory rats” and “not statistically significant”.
When an ingredient has promising health benefits….in laboratory rats, it makes me feel like the results are next to meaningless. I get that testing rats can be a precursor to testing people but, in my opinion, there’s too much uncertainty to assume people would see the same benefits.
When results are not statistically significant, half of me wants to stop reading the article. If your numbers are not statistically significant, then it’s all theory and trending assumptions. Yes, sometimes the things that are not “significantly significant” are significant in their importance.
The (Surprising and Disappointing) Results
When the participants had Alpha-GPC, their Serial Subtractions Test scores were ~1 second faster than when they had the caffeine (6.19 + 2.21 s versus 7.32 + 5.67 s). If you’re playing Jeopardy, that could be significant (See what I did there).
When the participants had Alpha-GPC, their Vertical Peak Jump Power was higher than when they had caffeine (2,041.3 + 547.2 W versus 1,920.4 + 689.6 W). Even though these results were depicted in the sole graphic figure in this paper presentation, it’s unclear whether this difference is significant.
When the participants had caffeine, they were more jittery as measured by a Visual Analog Scale for six different moods. Not only was this difference significant, statistically, it’s significant because these people only got 200 mg caffeine. And they were college age people!
A healthy adult can have up to 400 mg caffeine per day
Most flavors of Monster Energy contain ~160 mg caffeine
Some flavors of Rockstar Energy contain ~240 mg caffeine
A Starbucks Grande (plain black) coffee contains 330 mg caffeine
And 200 mg caffeine led to statistically significant jitters in this study?
What We Don’t Know
Whether the participants consume caffeine on a daily basis
What dosages of Alpha-GPC have been shown effective (IN PEOPLE)
Whether Alpha-GPC does anything meaningful (or “significant”) in terms of memory, mood, or performance (IN PEOPLE)
How long people have to take Alpha-GPC before it starts to give them a significant advantage
What was in the placebo
How the results would have compared if for one round the participants got BOTH Alpha-GPC + Caffeine
Are you or do you know a grad student studying caffeine? Are you a professor or teacher leading a discussion on energy drinks and their ingredients? Are you looking for a caffeine expert to present to your class or at an event? If so, I want to hear from you!
I’ve studied energy drinks and their ingredients for over 10 years. I am constantly surprised by how many healthy alternatives or “new wave” energy drinks look nothing like their forefathers. I am also surprised how some energy drink rumors just won’t die (e.g., no, taurine does not come from bull sperm). My goal is to guide you, with my green eyes.
There are a few ways caffeine and green tea DO work together and some ways people get the benefits of caffeine REGARDLESS of where it comes from. If this interests you, please check out (<- Library Pun) my book: “Are You A Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks”. Available on Amazon and Audible.
Stay tuned for next week’s book excerpt as we continue our page-by-page exploration through the Energy Drink Guide (now on Audible!!!).