Monday, September 12, 2011

Coffee vs Energy Drinks

First off, I am a caffeine queen. I LOVE it. Caffeine is definitely my biggest vice. As addicted as I am, I have cut down quite a bit. In high school my caffeine consumption was as such: 
Large or extra large dunkin donuts iced coffee in the morning on the way to school
2-3 diet cokes before lunch
1-2 diet cokes and or coffee after lunch
Red bull before going out and red bull and vodka when out

In college, it increased a little:
A sugar free red bull or other energy drink on the way to class, or sometimes on the way to dunkin....
Coffee before or after class (extra large dunkin) or both
Several ( or way more) cans of diet coke throughout the morning/ early afternoon
Another energy drink and coffee before and again during work
Medium or large coffee or 2 during night classes
More coffee after class if I went out with friends

In college I was a commuter and the money on my meal card was NEVER used because I always packed my own food. So to utilize the money ( I never let it go to waste) I stocked up on fuel for my awful caffeine habit. I bought a ton of 12 pack cases of diet soda cans. Sometime I just carried the case with me from class to class and popped them open throughout the day. I always had a case or two in the trunk of my car for emergencies. 

Finally, around my college graduation I realized how bad this habit was. I relied on my blood pressure to tell me if the caffeine was getting out of hand; if it went up I'd cut out some caffeine. Because I was such an avid runner ( a serious distance runner at that time) and gym rat my blood pressure stayed consistently around 110-20 over 60-70. Finally I realized that I was lying to myself-- the caffeine intake was really extreme and something had to be done. 

I'm really good at quitting things cold turkey ( it's how I stopped smoking, cut out fake sweetener, dairy, etc). I had already cut out the splenda, which led to way less coffee because I wasn't used to the bitter taste yet, but I was supplementing coffees with diet cokes- even worse.  So out went ALL the soda!! At first my headaches were outrageous and I was really cranky. I realized I slowly started adding in more energy drinks. 

Finally I found a balance which has led me to where i am now in terms of caffeine:
Big cup of iced coffee or 2 smaller cups of hot coffee after breakfast ( apparently it's not good for your metabolism to drink something caffeinated with a meal)
A sugar free or calorie free energy drink before a workout ( sometimes an iced coffee instead)

Usually I have my coffee with a teenie splash of non dairy milk, but now I just drink it black. Flavored coffee is actually, dare I say...better black. The flavor overrides the usual bitterness. 

Thanks to training for this competition, though, I've nixed the energy drinks. I'm eating so clean that I figured I'd nix the artificial stuff for now. So pre workout is just a big iced coffee. At first I was annoyed because I felt like the coffee just didn't deliver like the energy drinks did. I never ever got jittery from them I just got some energy. I'm very ADHD so my body responds pretty well to caffeine, it focuses me and never makes me jittery. After a week of only coffee, even though I'm taking in LESS caffeine,  i feel way better and more energetic! Plus, I never get that bloated or crampy feeling in my stomach that I sometimes get from energy drinks. 

This is not to say I'm mixing energy drinks forever (weird as it is, sometimes I crave a Monster Zero, I actually LOVE the flavor) but they're definitely out of my daily routine for good. I'm going to stick to the twice a day black coffee thing. I think my body responds way better to it. Maybe once a week before a Saturday morning workout I'll cave and go for a Monster Zero. But for now, coffee it is! 

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