The impact of caffeine on your workday

Many of us get through the working day with the aid of caffeine. Nutritionist Millie Gardner outlines how we can make the most of the benefits while avoiding the drawbacks.

Tired woman with lots of empty coffee cups


Many of us use caffeinated drinks to fuel us during our work day – around 63% of us in the UK are regular coffee drinkers.

There’s a lot of confusion about whether consuming caffeine is good for our health or not. The effect of caffeine on your wellbeing and energy levels very much depends on the source, consumption level and time of day you are consuming. Let’s dive into the best ways to optimise caffeine consumption during your work week to get the best results for your productivity, and your health.

Ditch the energy drinks

Energy drinks are not the best source of caffeine to fuel your work day. These contain high amounts of sugar that cause blood sugar spikes, that can actually leave you having big energy crashes throughout the day. The energy drinks that use sugar replacers like aspartame are even worse for you. Consumption of aspartame for example has been linked to anxiety, attentiveness issues and even neurodegeneration.

Drink water first, stay hydrated!

Particularly with coffee or black tea consumption, it’s good to get into the habit of drinking water before. Many people will drink only coffee and tea throughout the day, but this actually dehydrates our body as coffee and black tea are diuretics. This means they increase urination, so they dehydrate the body more than they hydrate them. If you’re a morning coffee drinker, drinking a glass of water before your cup of coffee will ensure your body is hydrated first.

Smart caffeine choices for your workday

So what are the best caffeine options? As mentioned above energy drinks aren’t the best option, but coffee, matcha and cocoa are all good choices. This is because they have other health benefits, so you’re not just waking yourself up, but also contributing to your overall health. Of course there is a lot of variation depending on the brands you buy and how much you’re consuming. As a general rule choosing organic, with no added ingredients is best.

  • Coffee: Coffee gets a bad reputation, but it can actually be good for our health when consumed correctly. Regular coffee consumption has been linked to multiple health benefits, and has been shown to reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. This applies to black coffee, so be mindful that adding sweeteners or syrups to your coffee will change the effect the coffee has on your body.
  • Matcha: Matcha is very high in antioxidants so boasts many health benefits. It gives a caffeine buzz, but is also mentally stimulating, so it is a good one for staying focused at work. It has also been shown to improve memory and short and long-term cognitive function.
  • Cocoa: Similarly to matcha, cocoa it is packed with antioxidants. Cocoa is also less caffeinated than coffee or matcha, so is a good option if you feel like you are sensitive to caffeine.

It’s also worth noting that the above benefits apply to the raw ingredients. Adding lots of sugar to any beverage you drink changes the effect it will have on your body. It is best to consume these in their rawest form, especially if you are consuming multiple cups a day. However if you have a sweet tooth sweeteners like stevia and xylitol are the best choice as these won’t spike your blood sugar, so will prevent you from experiencing the inevitable energy crash later.

The bottom line on caffeine at work

Here are some other important considerations when consuming caffeine. Keep these in mind when using caffeine to fuel your work day:

  • Timing matters: It’s important to remember that it can take the body up to 10 hours to remove caffeine from the bloodstream. Think about
    what time you would like to sleep and work back 10 hours from then. It can take 4 to 6 hours for your body to metabolise half of what you
    consumed, so it is important to consider this, in order to get optimal sleep.
  • Moderation is key: The general recommendation is to not surpass 400 milligrams of caffeine a day — that’s about four or five cups of coffee.
  • Know your limits: Everyone’s tolerance to caffeine is different. Pay attention to how your body reacts and adjust your intake accordingly,
    to avoid negative side effects. If you are a regular coffee drinker your body adjusts to this, so everyone’s limits are different.
  • Nutrient Absorption: Caffeine can interfere with nutrient absorption. It usually won’t make a huge difference to your health, especially if you consume a balanced diet. However, one thing to note is that taking your vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements with a caffeinated drink can affect your absorption. So it is best leave a small gap of at least 30 min between drinking a caffeinated beverage and taking your these.

In conclusion, while caffeine can be a powerful ally in boosting productivity and maintaining energy levels throughout the workday, it’s important to approach it mindfully. By choosing healthy sources, monitoring your intake, and paying attention to the timing of your consumption, you can enjoy the benefits of caffeine without the drawbacks. Remember, everyone’s body reacts differently to caffeine, so it’s crucial to listen to your own body and adjust accordingly. With these tips, you can make the most of your caffeinated drinks, enhancing both your focus at work, and your overall well-being.

*Millie Gardner is a certified Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist (DipCNM, mANP, mGNC). She specialises in women’s health issues, supporting women with period and hormonal imbalance issues, including perimenopause and menopause. If you are interested in working with her to receive tailored nutrition and supplement advice, you can book a free 30-minute connection call here to find out more.

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