Let’s Talk About the Downsides of Coffee

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Caffeine is a substance countless people around the world start their day with because it helps them feel awake and focused. Others use it for special occasions such as long drives or even late-night engagements so they can stay alert. Athletes can use it to boost their performance. And it’s pretty much the most well-studied, legal performance aid.

Since caffeine was removed from the WADA’s list of banned substances, roughly three-quarters of all athletes use it strategically to better performance. While it’s very popular and known to improve results, the supplement does have some downsides that make it a bad choice for a small portion of people.

Let’s talk about these downsides.

First of all, it interferes with your sleep. 

Caffeine’s job is to keep you alert, and that’s great. But how quickly or slowly you process caffeine will vary from person to person based on different factors such as age, genetics, diet, gender, etc. The stimulant will typically stay in the body for about 4-6 hours. Athletes who tend to consume high amounts of caffeine and train later in the day might be hindering their sleep, and ultimately, their performance. 

Here’s a fix: try consuming all your caffeine before noon so you make sure your coffee won’t interfere with your natural sleep schedule.

Second of all, you build a tolerance to it.

The brain can basically increase receptors for caffeine with long term, high intakes. This means you’re likely going to need more to feel the same effect. Consuming a bit each day can easily lead to consuming moderate quantities and then large amounts because you build a tolerance to coffee quite easily. This can happen without you even being aware, due to the prevalence of caffeine in drinks, supplements, and food. It’s everywhere – sport gels, gums, waters, tea, and more.

Here’s a fix: track your eating and drinking habits so you can figure out how much caffeine you’re really consuming on a daily basis.

Third, it will hinder the absorption of nutrients. 

People concerned with their fitness, who are typically invested in healthy eating, often consume coffee without adding this consideration. Consuming caffeine will always interfere with the absorption of vital nutrients that your body needs to stay active such as iron, magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins. 

In fact, consuming caffeine with your meal might mean reducing your absorption of iron by up to 50 percent.

Here’s a fix: if you want to make sure you’re getting in enough nutrients every single day, consume caffeine away from your meals.

Fourth, it has an impact on heart health.

The scientific literature on the topic doesn’t come up with a conclusion on whether caffeine is good or bad for your heart. 

In general, using up to 600mg of coffee a day is considered safe, but there isn’t much research available for people consuming over that amount. About a quarter of adults consume more than 600mg every day, making this a legitimate concern. 

While people involved in ongoing physical fitness will generally have better heart health than sedentary people, there is always a known risk of experience cardiac events during serious performances such as a marathon. Consuming excessive pre-case caffeine could lead to that risk increasing.


Many of these issues are truly personal and they will ultimately vary highly from person to person, making specific guidelines hard to advise. If you suspect that caffeine is causing your body or your mind stress, you should start with reducing the amount of consume every day. 

Once that substance is eliminated, you can evaluate how you’re feeling and whether or not you want to return to using caffeine daily or only at important moments and performances (or not at all.)

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