The 4 Secrets of Getting Wired on Caffeine
By: Dave Asprey
October 12, 2012
It’s no secret that Bulletproof Coffee is one of the best ways you can supercharge your brain function. Every day, more and more people are improving their cognitive performance thanks to Bulletproof Coffee.
Check out what others are saying about Bulletproof Coffee!
“Brew, blend, drink! OMG! it’s like coffee on steroids that tastes like heaven!” ~ Vertun2002
“Upgraded Coffee has arrived! Love this stuff!” ~Shannon Ford, Mrs. USA
“Doing a weigh-in & realizing that I’ve lost 10 lbs over the last few weeks with the help of yummy Bulletproof Coffee and IF. 🙂 ” ~Katie Brown
However, Bulletproof Coffee isn’t the end of the road when it comes to using caffeine to boost your brainpower. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant, but there are four tricks you need to use to get the most benefit from your Bulletproof Coffee.
1. Take small, frequent doses.
According to a Lifehacker.com interview with neuroscientist Chris Chatham, small, regular doses of caffeine are better for improving mental performance than large doses. As someone who used to drown himself in 64 ounces of coffee before computer science class every morning, this is powerful information. Chatham says the optimal dose of caffeine for mental performance is probably around 20-200 mg/hour. An average cup of filtered coffee has about 100-150 mg of caffeine, so one cup per hour is a good starting point.
There is only so much caffeine that your brain can deal with at any one time. If you drink too much too soon, much of it will go to waste. If you take smaller, more frequent doses, you can get the full benefit from each speck of caffeine that goes into your body.
2. Use caffeine for quantity, not quality.
You have to be selective about what you do when you’re wired on caffeine. Caffeine doesn’t improve performance across the board. It helps you perform tasks that you’re already good at faster, but it doesn’t help you perform better on many complex tasks.
In general, caffeine helps you work faster, but not better. If you’re trying to get the most out of your caffeine buzz, do tedious work that doesn’t require the most cognitive effort, like data entry or answering emails. You’ll get the job done faster, but you may sacrifice a small amount of quality for quantity, which is fine in some cases.
My experience is that I’m a much better writer and produce my best content on strong black or Bulletproof coffee.
3. Dial in your optimal dose.
Everyone has a different tolerance for caffeine. For some people it makes almost no difference, while others get amped on the smallest amounts. Your individual caffeine tolerance depends on your diet, lifestyle, and genetics. As is often the case here on the Bulletproof Executive, the only real solution is to test it on yourself. Experiment with different amounts of caffeine, consuming it at different times throughout the morning, and at different intervals. Post your findings in the comments, we’d love to hear what you find.
4. Help caffeine do its job with grapefruit, sugar, and fat.
I’ve written about the problems of consuming too much grapefruit before, but as long as you don’t eat too much or do it daily, it can help increase the effectiveness of caffeine. Tim Ferriss talked about this a little in his 4-Hour Body book, but the summary is that grapefruit has a compound called narangin that helps slow the clearance of caffeine (and toxins) from your system. If you eat a small piece of grapefruit in the morning with your coffee, or take some grapefruit seed extract, you can make the caffeine stay in your bloodstream for longer than it otherwise would. If you’re taking medications, before you try the grapefruit trick, make sure your meds aren’t contraindicated with grapefruit.
Sugar is bad for you if you eat too much, but a teaspoon in your morning coffee isn’t going to kill you (even if it does ruin your Bulletproof Intermittent Fast). In fact, small amounts of sugar can increase your performance on a test if taken right beforehand, because your brain soaks up the sugar and uses it for fuel (glucose). Sugar also helps the absorption of caffeine, but not as much as fat.
One of the reasons Bulletproof Coffee has such a strong effect on brain function is the fat. Besides the high nutrient density and cognitive boosting effects of grass-fed butter or grass-fed ghee and Brain Octane Oil, these fats also increase the absorption of caffeine. When you drink coffee mixed with healthy fat (aka Bulletproof Coffee), you’re getting a much stronger effect than if you were to have either one by itself. It’s even better if the coffee is brewed without a paper filter.
Hint: Those Four Secrets Are Only Just The Beginning….
Most businesspeople fuel themselves with caffeine, but not everyone does it right. Most use high-toxin coffee that does more harm than good. Even if you’re using a high quality mold-free coffee, you can still do better.
The science of caffeine – and the benefits of caffeine itself, whether or not in the form of coffee – is an expansive and wildly fascinating topic. Check out my recent blog post on the perks of caffeine (no pun intended!) for more, but in a nutshell:
- Caffeine sensitivity varies from person to person. That’s why you may only love one cup a day, but one of your friends can guzzle 6 while your other friend goes nuts from just a few sips.
- Scientists have found at least 6 genes that directly influence how your body metabolizes caffeine (read more here.)
- Caffeine competes with and suppresses a neurotransmitter in your brain called adenosine. It binds to certain receptors in the brain like a key fitting into a lock. If caffeine is in the lock, adenosine can’t bind, and it can’t make you sleepy. By blocking adenosine, caffeine keeps the cell running, and keeps you awake.
- When caffeine blocks adenosine, stimulating brain chemicals like glutamate and dopamine join the party and flow more freely — giving you a surge of energy, improving mental performance, and slowing age-related mental decline. Caffeine also increases serotonin, a major mood influencer. The boost makes you feel more positive, and it’s strong enough to measurably affect depression.
All this is in part why coffee power naps are so…powerful! Learn how to hack your coffee napping here.
Self-Quantify Your Coffee Dosing
Drinking coffee in small, frequent doses helps maximize the absorption and potency of caffeine. If you schedule your day so you’re most caffeinated when doing your most mundane tasks, you can get them done faster.
Everyone has a different tolerance for caffeine, so you’ll need to experiment to find your optimal dosing schedule. And last but not least, you can use grapefruit, sugar, and grass-fed fat to help speed the absorption of caffeine.
How will you use caffeine to get wired?