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The caffeine you consume is with you for many hours

Caffeine has a life all its own. According to Alice Lindeman, a nutritionist at Indiana University, half of the caffeine you drink reaches the body within 2{ to 4 hours; the rest can take another seven to 10 hours to completely clear out.

Consequently, Lindeman said, she advises student athletes _ and other cola-chugging college kids _ to taper off their caffeine consumption as the day progresses.

She first suggests they stop drinking any caffeine after 8 p.m., then work back to 4 p.m. One trick she uses is to get the athletes to alternate a juice-based soft drink with their usual colas.

A primary goal is proper rest and recovery from hard workouts.

"People drink caffeine out of habit," she said. "But it can keep people from getting a good night's sleep. Even if you can tolerate it, and fall asleep easily, you will have a less restful night."

Another tip: Take your coffee or cola with some food. Lindeman said your body will be less adversely affected: Even cream and sugar will help calm the caffeine's effects.