Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

The Caffeine Advantage

The Caffeine Advantage: How to Sharpen Your Mind, Improve Your Physical Performance, and Achieve Your Goals--the Healthy Way Last night I finished reading The Caffeine Advantage, a book claims that caffeine is actually good for you: “The Caffeine Advantage offers step-by-step programs that show you how caffeine can improve your IQ, memory, mood, athletic ability, physical condition, and performance at work.”

One of the most bold claims is that caffeine can make you smarter. In chapter 4 the authors state that taking a small to medium dosage of caffeine (i.e. 50 – 150 mg) before taking an IQ test will likely improve your score. Since IQ is the generally accepted measure of how smart one is, caffeine makes one smarter. I’d like to get my hands on a copy of the book that mentions that study (Caffeine and Behavior). Looks like the UCLA Biomed library has a copy, so perhaps I’ll ask Ariella to check it out for me.

The book also states that if you consuming too much caffeine can actually have an inverse affect on performance. For many people, having more than 600 mg of caffeine a day can make the drug less effective.

I’m a big fan of espresso (especially Illy, which is almost never bitter) but I occasionally drink drip coffee as well. I learned several years ago from the Caffeine FAQ that a shot of espresso has less caffeine than a cup of coffee (~100 mg vs. ~150 mg), so I figure that my morning double-shot is about equivalent to a 12 oz. cup of regular coffee. What I didn’t realize how little the average 6 oz. cup of green tea has: only 15 mg! Given the rough guideline of consuming < 600 mg a day, I guess I can drink as much green tea as I’d like.

This book is a refreshing perspective compared to the anti-caffeine rhetoric prevalent in the health community. It’s unfortunate that the authors don’t have more impressive credentials. I’d love to believe everything in the book, but I know full well that it’s written by a couple of quacks.