Have you ever experienced the coffee jitters? You know, that feeling you get from when you’ve had one too many cups of coffee?
Whilst we all appreciate the pick me up power of caffeine first thing in the morning, it can be a very fine line between feeling positively full of energy before tipping over the edge into hyperactivity.
Admittedly, some people are definitely more sensitive to caffeine than others. I know, for example, that I have a magic number of how many cups I can have in a day without turning into a twitching, tetchy tornado – it’s 3 by the way; well, they do say that 3 is the magic number!
I also know that if I want a decent nights sleep I really shouldn’t have a cup of coffee after 4pm, so I think it’s safe to say that yes I am relatively caffeine sensitive. For your own safety, here’s a quick recap, should you be thinking of inviting me round your house for coffee:
- Don’t let me have any more than 3 cups.
- Don’t even offer it to me if it’s after 4pm.
But, here’s the thing…turns out I’ve been doing it all wrong and I’m pretty sure you lot might have been doing the same!
Experts recommend we should ideally be drinking no more than 400mg of caffeine a day, which is the equivalent of approximately 4 cups of coffee.
Yep, wait for it…there’s a but…
BUT did you know that not all coffee contains the same level of caffeine?
Which means that even if you restrict the number of cups of coffee you have each day, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are restricting the amount of caffeine you consume.
Think about it for a moment; the cappuccino you sometimes have at your high street coffee chain…tastes stronger right, that coffee you had round your friend’s house last week…might have tasted similar, but it’s different to your usual brand and left you feeling a bit headachy, and the ‘special’ coffee you save for lazy Sunday mornings when you bring out the cafetiere…again, makes you feel different to how you feel in the week when you use the ‘not so special’ instant stuff from the jar.
In all honesty, feeling a bit wired every now and again isn’t going to do you too much damage, but for those of us who are concerned about some of the more serious side effects, such as heart palpitations, and the effect caffeine may have on our fitness levels and performance, it starts to become more of an issue.
There are significant benefits to consuming caffeine at exactly the right level, in fact many high level sports people use caffeine to help boost their performance.
- Increase endurance
- Improve mental focus
- Improve mental performance
- Help with muscle recovery
Not only this, but research has also proven that a healthy consumption of coffee can:
- Improve energy levels
- Increase brain power
- Help lower the risk of Type II Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinson’s and some types of Cancer
- Helps protect the liver
- Increases happiness levels
- Supply you with a huge level of antioxidants
- Help you burn fat
- Help you lose weight
Up until now, athletes, gym goers, fitness aficionados or indeed anyone who has wanted to use caffeine as an aid to help boost their performance, have had 2 choices – 1) to meticulously work out and control each and every cup of coffee they drink or 2) to rely on the controlled levels of caffeine contained in energy drinks, such as Red Bull.
So, let’s look at both options and see whether either of them provides the ideal solution.
(spoiler alert… they dont!)
Controlling the Caffeine in your Coffee
Controlling the amount of caffeine you consume by tracking each and every cup of coffee you drink is by far the hardest option, as there are so many different variables to take into consideration. Firstly, caffeine affects everybody in a completely different way and this could be down to internal factors such as metabolism, body weight, ratio of fat to muscle or could be influenced by the external factors of how much sleep someone has had, how much water they have consumed or how much food they have eaten that day. Combine this with the fact that caffeine levels are also influenced by the type of bean, the roast, the weather, how it is processed, how it is dried, the temperature of the water, how long it’s brewed for and all of a sudden you’re not just making yourself a cup of coffee you’re in a full blown chemistry lesson!
So, although we know that the caffeine we’re getting from coffee, and indeed tea and most cocoa products, is in it’s natural form and therefore provides us with more sustained energy than that found in artificial caffeine, the disadvantage is that it is completely unregulated. The caffeine content between one brand of coffee compared to another can be as low as 20mg per cup all the way up to a staggering 300mg, which explains why sometimes you might feel completely fine and other times you may feel irritable, headachy and really not yourself!
Are Caffeinated Energy Drinks the Answer?
One of the main reasons caffeinated energy drinks like Red Bull have become so popular is for the simple reason that the amount of caffeine in the drink can be regulated. Now whilst this is obviously a good thing, these drinks are unfortunately laden with lots of other nasties, which are going to leave you feeling far worse than high levels of caffeine will. Traditional energy drinks contain artificial caffeine, which has been manufactured to supply a set level of stimulant. Red Bull, for example, contains the optimum level of caffeine for peak performance, but when you look at the ingredients you will see sucrose and glucose high on the list and we all know that anything ending in ‘ose’ is a form of sugar and that’s not good! Any drink containing sugar will of course give you an energy boost, but it’s a very quick acting intense surge of energy that crashes down equally as fast, leaving you feeling lethargic and craving more.
OK so what IS the Answer?
Imagine if somehow you could combine the two options to come up with a product that provided natural performance, controlled levels of caffeine and didn’t contain vast amounts of sugar and other chemicals. Well that’s exactly what TrueStart have done and they have kindly sent us some samples of their recently rebranded Performance Coffee to try for ourselves.
TrueStart Performance Coffee has been developed by athletes; so they know exactly what is required from a performance based coffee and what has been missing from the market so far. It is the only coffee in the world that has been designed specifically with sports performance in mind. Not only does it contain high quality pure Colombian Arabica coffee beans, but also has a controlled level of caffeine in each and every serving.
This is fantastic news for coffee lovers and athletes everywhere!
In every scoop (1 heaped teaspoon/2g) of TrueStart coffee there is a guaranteed 95mg of natural caffeine, which is pretty much the same as the caffeine content of a can of Red Bull, but there is none of the added sugar. TrueStart understand that everybody is unique in their needs and have different tolerances meaning the amount of caffeine they need will vary. The great thing about TrueStart coffee is that because it has regulated caffeine levels, it is much easier working out how much you require to help give your absolute best performance. The experts at TrueStart recommend starting off with one scoop of TrueStart Coffee and increase the dose as required. The caffeine level remains consistent, but you may find doubling or even tripling the dose may produce better results for you. And once you have found your ideal dose, your magic number so to speak, you can look forward to a much more focused, energised and optimised performance.
So far, TrueStart have had a great response to their product, with fans stretching from not only sports people, but also to night shift workers, truck drivers and even breast feeding women, where a controlled level of caffeine is incredibly important.
When is the best time to drink TrueStart Coffee?
Caffeine takes approximately 45 minutes to fully absorb into the body and has a half life of 5.7 hours, which is why TrueStart recommend drinking their performance coffee about 30 minutes before you train. After this time it is up to you to gauge how often and when you feel the need for another cup. It’s also a great idea to end a training session with a cup of TrueStart coffee as this will help speed up the recovery process of your muscles and help reenergise you for the rest of the day.
The benefits of incorporating TrueStart coffee into a busy, physical lifestyle are absolutely crystal clear, but I am sure many of you are thinking that it’s all well and good…but what does it actually taste like?
If you’re a bit of a coffee snob then you may have already turned your nose up at the fact that this is an instant coffee and are probably thinking how on earth can an instant coffee compare to the rich, intense flavour that you get from grinding your own beans? Well, here’s the thing…traditional instant coffee generally uses a lower quality bean and will often be a mixture of different beans. TrueStart, on the other hand, use single sourced beans, 100% Columbian Arabica, which have been ethically produced and are then freeze dried, rather than spray dried, to retain its exceptional flavour.
Considering my own rocky relationship with caffeine I thought it would be a good idea for me to put TrueStart to the test and whilst I am by no means claiming to be any type of athlete, I do workout regularly, so I was intrigued to see how my performance differed after a cup of TrueStart coffee, compared to my standard instant brand.
So, 30 minutes before my cardio and weights session I boiled the kettle and emptied some TrueStart coffee into my cup. Fine so far, looks just like any other instant coffee; granules nicely even in colour and the smell was not too overpowering, but pleasant in a burnt sugar kind of way. The sun was out that particular day (hooray Spring is nearly here!) so I took my steaming cup of coffee outside to enjoy on the decking.
The taste was not bitter in the slightest, if anything it had a slight sweetness to it, and it was lovely and smooth; rich but without being overpowering. I thoroughly enjoyed my cuppa that day and to make sure I adhered to the suggested 30 minutes gap, I pottered about in the garden, fed the ducks (yes that is a duck you can spot in the photo above, we have 4 as pets and they give us a great supply of eggs!) and did a bit of housework. Now, I know housework isn’t exactly the most strenuous activity in the world, but I’ve got to say I literally whizzed round with the vacuum cleaner that day and got it done in record time!
Time to crack on with my workout!
I can honestly say that it was one of my best workouts yet. Now, I know it’s easy for me to say that, but hands in the air, cards on the table and I’ll even throw a pinky promise in there for good measure, I honestly felt as though I put more energy in, I ramped it up a gear and I even completed some extra reps at the end, which I usually convince myself I’m too tired to do. So, yes it did what it said it was going to do; it made me perform better! And, OK cynics might say it could have had a placebo effect, but do you know…so what if it did, because the coffee tasted great, I pulled a fab fitness session out of the bag and I didn’t feel all jittery with an afternoon crash and burn that I can often experience. From that point of view I am a happy lady!
∗ News Flash ∗
TrueStart have recently rebranded their packaging. Previously it has been packaged in a jar, but check out the photos above and you’ll see it’s now moved into a shiny, slick, versatile and far more functional pouch. Not only does this make it a lot easier for athletes to carry around with them; lighter, easier to pack etc., but it also comes with a nifty scoop making it so much easier to measure out and know exactly how much you’re having. And if you go follow the TrueStart Instagram page you’ll see that the pouch is on the move across the UK and could be coming to a city near you!
Start your Day the TrueStart Way!
We caught up with the co-founders of TrueStart for a chat, and a cup of coffee, about what they’ve been up to and what they’ve got planned for the future:
How long has the company been running?
“We’re a baby company – a start-up! TrueStart officially launched in May 2015, so we’re just under a year old.”
What was the inspiration behind TrueStart?
“The idea for TrueStart came about in March 2014 during training for an IronMan 70.3 triathlon. We’ve always enjoyed coffee before training and started to notice a real difference in how we felt from one day to the next. I’m quite sensitive to caffeine (Helena) and noticed that I was having heart palpitations out on the bike one day, but then nothing at all the next!”
Why the name TrueStart?
“This was a lightbulb moment from Co-Founder Simon. It encompasses what the product itself is all about – making sure you’re ready to tackle any challenge ahead.”
What makes TrueStart a performance coffee?
“The fact that it has a controlled level of caffeine – the optimum level for performance. You’ll get 95mg of caffeine per serving and by knowing exactly how much you’re getting it means that you can tailor it to your own personal needs i.e. bodyweight etc.”
How many products do you have?
“At the moment we have just the one coffee product, which is our new branded pouch. However, we also have some awesome merchandise in our web store, including pro cycling jerseys and thermal headbands.”
Who is TrueStart aimed at?
“Our core audience includes runners, cyclists, triathletes and serious gym goers. The Founder’s of TrueStart are triathletes themselves!
Does that mean you all drink TrueStart coffee?
“Yes, at HQ we always drink TrueStart, but in context. For instance, if we’ve got a big day ahead (which is often!), and focus is essential, we’re confident that a cup of TrueStart will see us through. Equally, whenever we’re tackling a long ride or headed to the gym after work, we’ll always have a trusty serving of TrueStart. We always have a pouch at the ready in the office for anyone who needs it!”
Where can I buy TrueStart coffee?
“Lots of ways!
You can buy directly through the TrueStart website, we have also just launched in to Wiggle and you can also check out where we’re physically stocked right here.”
What are your plans for the future?
“We’ve got lots in the pipeline and are amidst discussions of which new products to launch. Even as we’ve been talking to you, we’ve launched into Australia via Wiggle!
Our future plans very much involve growth – as a company, as a brand, across the world.”
What is the ‘big dream’?
“To be the Red Bull of coffee!
Simon and Helena have an incredible vision of a global #TeamTrueStart, connected by the power of team spirit, authenticity and determination.
Their mission is to give athletes all over the world the confidence, support and drive to fulfil their ambitions.
Mind. Set. Go!”
Describe TrueStart in three words.
“Authentic. Determined. Team Spirit
…technically four, can we get away with that?”
(we’ll let them off, but only because their coffee’s so good!)
We love their coffee and, so it seems do an increasing number of coffee fans – just check out these glowing reviews:
“Starting using TrueStart to help with my swim training but now use it before any exercise and even sometimes just to get through a long day. Not only have I found it allows me to go keep going for longer but it also seems to prevent me feeling broken afterwards, specially after an evening session. Good product and good price as it works.”
“Being a bit of a coffee aficionado I was a little bit sceptical about an instant one but I have to say it tastes surprisingly good. With its promise of controlled caffeine intake – and I rarely run without a little shot just to set me up – I’ll be giving this a go.”
“We’ve been following TrueStart for a little while – managed to get some a while back – and it tastes lovely! Does exactly what it says on the tin – and a completely new and innovative product – very chuffed to be able to buy it on Wiggle! These guys are going places well done Wiggle for recognizing that!”