We Love Our Morning Coffee — But Does Caffeine *Actually* Give Us Energy?

by Jerald Dyson

“[Caffeine] does indeed have the ability to maintain alertness when one would otherwise be tired, and it increases behavior in many cases,”* says Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins.

“You can call that energy, but there will certainly be a rebound effect when dealing with meaningful doses. So, you can say it increases energy in the short term at the expense of the long term, to a degree,”* he explains.

Indeed, “the cognitive and physical energy is a temporary gift that instant-release caffeine gives,”* shares Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, mbg’s vice president of scientific affairs. She goes on to explain that, “there is also heightened potential for experiencing the caffeine ‘crash’ phenomenon, or rebound effects, with instant-release caffeine.”

But as it turns out, extended-release caffeine exists. “These sustained caffeine release profiles leverage novel absorption technology to level out the increased caffeine levels in your body, leading to longer efficacy, minus the dreaded crash,”* says Ferira. That sounds like the best of both worlds, if you ask us.

In the case of nutrition (i.e., where calories define metabolic energy), caffeine doesn’t provide that type of nutrition 101 textbook energy at all. “Despite what it may feel like, consuming caffeine does not increase cellular energy production (ATP) or provide fuel (i.e., protein, fats, carbohydrates) for muscles to perform,” shares integrative registered dietitian Whitney Crouch, RDN, CLT.

But Crouch highlights what caffeine’s energizing reputation is truly rooted in: “By stimulating excitatory neurotransmitters, it jump-starts the brain the way that adrenaline does, which sends messages to the rest of the body to perform.”*


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