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[Study] Caffeine Cravings — New Research Says That You Should Watch Your Intake Of This Sneaky Stimulant

caffeine, caffeine addiction, caffeine problems, caffeine use disorder, caffeine withdrawal, caffeine health, caffeine tolerance, caffeine health effects, caffeine dependency

Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. 90% of adults take advantage of it regularly, with an average intake of 200mg+ per day. Surprising? Probably not. Problematic? Researchers say yes.1

And while grabbing a cup of coffee is no crime, researchers now say that caffeine is moving from commonly used to downright abused. Recent research by psychologists at American University concluded that some people are so addicted and dependent on caffeine, that they experience serious withdrawal symptoms that can ultimately progress into Caffeine Use Disorder (CUD).23 Characteristics of CUD include anxiety, agitation, and moodiness when an individual does not receive the amounts of caffeine their body is used to. An official diagnosis comes from the following 9 symptoms:4

  • (1) A persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control caffeine use.
  • (2) Continued caffeine use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by caffeine.
  • (3) Withdrawal.
  • (4) Caffeine is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  • (5) Recurrent caffeine use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g. repeated tardiness or absences from work or school related to caffeine use or withdrawal).
  • (6) Continued caffeine use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of caffeine (e.g.arguments with spouse about use, medical problems, cost).
  • (7) Tolerance. Either a need for increased amounts of caffeine to achieve desired effect, or a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of caffeine.
  • (8) A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain caffeine, use caffeine, or recover from its effects.
  • (9) Craving a strong desire or urge to use caffeine.

 

Authors of the study reported that 50% of regular caffeine users had trouble putting a halt to the habit, with 30% being classified as being Substance Dependent. Researchers from previous caffeine studies also note that the problem isn’t just with the consumer; health professionals have been slow to realize just how serious the risks and dependencies can be. The misconception of dependency and a lack of recognition have lead to grounds for more research and data collection.

“And while many people can consume caffeine without harm, for some it produces negative effects, physical dependence, interferes with daily functioning, and can be difficult to give up, which are signs of problematic use.” — Laura Juliano, psychology professor at American University 

It’s tricky to know exactly how much you’ve had, especially because caffeine can be snuck into more than just beverages. Coffee, chocolate, green tea, soda, over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements (especially pre-workouts) are all places where caffeine might be hiding, making it hard to track your true consumption. Using an app like Jawbone’s UP Coffee is a good place to start, but it’s nowhere near perfect.

 

Caffeinate With Caution 


caffeine, caffeine addiction, caffeine problems, caffeine use disorder, caffeine withdrawal, caffeine health, caffeine tolerance, caffeine health effects, caffeine dependency

Despite caffeine’s ability to kick-start your day and put a little pep in your step, there is such a thing as overdoing it — and it’s important to know how much is too much. Adults should not intake more than 400mg of caffeine a day, and children should be careful not to exceed more than 100mg; not to mention the precautions that those with health conditions should be aware of.5

Keep in mind that manufacturers are not held to caffeine regulations and are not required to display caffeine amounts.6 Also remember that not every cup of coffee is created equal. And if you’re worried about your own intake, check out this Caffeine Addiction Diagnosis Quiz to see how dependent you really are.7

Julie Fine

Julie Fine

Content Specialist at Lean It Up
Julie Fine is an AFAA-CGF, Beachbody INSANITY Coach, former chunky gal, 110% pure fitness junkie and an SEC-lovin' sorority girl at the University of Missouri.

When she isn't spending her extra time as a campus tour guide (Go Tigers!), she's probably scrounging around the aisles of Barnes & Noble or doing some impulse online shopping.
Julie Fine
Follow Lean It UP on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info and updates.

 
 

References, Notes, Links

  1. Caffeine Use Disorder in the Journal of Caffeine Research []
  2. American University Washington DC []
  3. Steven E. Meredith, Laura M. Juliano, John R. Hughes, and Roland R. Griffiths. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. Journal of Caffeine Research. September 2013, 3(3): 114-130. doi:10.1089/jcr.2013.0016. []
  4. DSM-5 Caffeine Use Disorder Research Diagnosis []
  5. Caffeine Informer-Safe Limits []
  6. American University Washington DC []
  7. Caffeine Informer []

 

  • It’s encouraging that more companies are starting to follow the American Beverage Association guidelines and include “Caffeine From All Sources” on the food/supplement label. It is worrisome that caffeine is now added to so many products, which makes the Jawbone app such a great idea. Another way to combat caffeine dependency and misuse is to match caffeine intake by how tired you really are – the 5 Levels of Fatigue in the book “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star” explains when to pick water, tea, carbonated vs non-carbonated products or sleep. Many times people reach for caffeine when they’re dehydrated (Level 1), and plain water is the best. Sometimes people rely on caffeine when they’re pushing limits of sleep deprivation (Level 5) and really only sleep will help.

    • Hey Danielle, really great points all around.

      We’ll do a feature on it, but I think the Jawbone app has a ton of potential; especially when they start monitoring the interplay between personal caffeine intake AND sleep quality (with their band).

      I’m really hoping that total caffeine will become a mandatory labeling requirement at some point, potentially as CUD becomes more widely recognized.

      • Absolutely, I’m hoping for mandatory caffeine labeling too. Anytime I see a new product marketed for energy, I look for caffeine content (then sugar content). If I can’t find it on the label, I check Caffeine Informer’s database. I always address caffeine content when I duscuss energy drinks on GreenEyedGuide.com too. Waiting for Jawbone to make Android compatible app, then I’m all in. ;D