The rise of microdosing started with out-there (and mostly illicit) substances like LSD and magic mushrooms, but what would occur if you repurposed the trend for the everyday drugs we’re used to – like caffeine? We consulted dietitians to get the low-down.
Microdosing may have risen in popularity thanks to its adherents in Silicon Valley’s tech industry, but the trend, which involves regularly ingesting low levels of psychedelic drugs to improve concentration, has made its mark globally.
And while the original substances used were often illicit (think LSD and magic mushrooms), the latest and far more legal choice is caffeine. Here’s the buzz on getting your buzz in an entirely new way.
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Just as with microdosing LSD, getting your caffeine fix this way is said to help you optimise your focus and energy levels.
“The general idea is to consume small amounts of caffeine across the day in order to stay within a certain range for a longer period of time,” dietitian Melissa Meier tells Body+Soul.
“Caffeine is a stimulant drug and in the right dose it can make you feel alert, but overdoing it can leave you feeling anxious, cranky and tired,” she adds.
Research shows that by staggering your caffeine intake, you can reap the benefits without any side effects. In fact, during one Harvard Medical School study, researchers found that people who consume smaller, more frequent amounts of caffeine enjoy better mental awareness and performance than those who take a large dose in the morning.
“It’s hard to know exactly how much caffeine you need to affect your fatigue, concentration, creativity, memory and mood, but I would say around 60mg to 80mg – the amount found in one shot of espresso – would do the trick,” says dietitian Catherine Saxelby.
Once you know how much caffeine keeps you alert without getting jittery, try taking it in tinier doses more frequently.
“I like the idea of buying only half-a-cup at a time or asking your barista to use only half the amount of espresso,” she tips.
If you’re looking to avoid the afternoon energy crash, caffeine microdosing could be for you, but the experts warn that you should be mindful of your overall intake.
“Around 300mg of caffeine a day is considered fine, which translates to four or five cups of instant coffee or three shots of espresso,” Saxelby tells Body+Soul.
Meier recommends pregnant women and children steer clear of the trend altogether, as should anyone with a pre-existing heart problem, stomach ulcer or high blood pressure.
“For other adults, if it works for you, I don’t see a problem, as long as you’re consuming less than 400mg of caffeine per day and no more than 200mg in a single dose,” notes Meier.
Let’s clear up some common theories about caffeine.
It increases your risk of heart disease: According to a US study, drinking 400mg of caffeine per day may not increase your risk of heart disease, arrhythmia, heart failure or blood pressure. Instead, it could reduce it.
It helps you live longer: Research published in the European Journal Of Epidemiology found that drinking at least two cups per day can decrease your risk of death from all causes by up to 17 per cent.
It sobers you up: Sorry, but caffeine doesn’t break down alcohol. It makes you feel more alert, but this can lead you to engage in other forms of risky behaviour (like deciding to drive home).
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