Caffeine is one of those interesting substances which is consumed daily by thousands of people around the world, yet its not always given careful consideration to how best to use. If you want to accentuate your athletic performance from a natural substance that's very likely to be in your pantry already, then read on.
Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in leaves, nuts, and seeds of numerous plants. We tend to consume it in the refined and packaged form by way of coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and training supplements or caffeinated sports products. Caffeine-containing beverages typically contain 30-120mg of caffeine, depending on brand or product. Broadly marketed to consumers promising Improved performance it has become increasingly popular in sport and consumed by athletes as part of their dietary programs.
Classification and how it works
Caffeine is classified as a psychoactive drug; unlike other psychoactive drugs, it is legal and unregulated in most parts of the world. It acts as a stimulant which means it speeds up the messages traveling between the brain and the body. As a stimulant, it also is shown to enhance our metabolic rate. Metabolic rate refers to the standard our body uses or burns energy throughout the day.
Caffeine has shown to be one of the best-tested ergogenic aids (a substance that enhances an individual's energy use, production, or recovery) and is known to help athletes train harder and longer. Caffeine stimulates the brain and contributes to clearer thinking and higher concentration.
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system reducing fatigue and drowsiness, resulting in a reduced perception of effort and fatigue. It may also benefit exercise performance with research showing improved endurance and increased muscular strength. Endurance athletes appear to benefit significantly from consuming caffeine found in coffee.
Tip: Consume less to maximize performance benefits. It’s been proven that those who had a low habitual caffeine intake, maintained their performance benefits and with less negative side effects.
Caffeine as a Recovery Aid
Caffeine has been shown to reduce exercise-induced muscle pain during and after workout by up to 50%. Results indicated consuming caffeine before intense training improves athletic performance and lessens the amount of time for muscle recovery.
Consuming caffeine may regularly desensitize athletes to the performance-enhancing effects of the drug. In fact, overconsumption of caffeine leads to a decline in athletic performance. With this in mind, athletes who drink coffee regularly should cut down in the lead-up to a sports performance. If not, they may be unlikely to reap the rewards of a caffeine supplement.
Potential side effects from overconsumption of caffeine:
· Increased heart rate
· Impaired fine motor control (and shakiness)
· Anxiety and over-arousal
· Sleep disturbances
· Gastrointestinal upset (upset stomach)
Tip. Take your mind off your next caffeine hit by doing 10 minutes of walking at a moderate pace or 10 minutes of climbing stairs if you work in an office block, this will increase energy and motivation.
Caffeine and Hydration
Most commonly we’re told caffeine has a diuretic effect, is dehydrating, and doesn't count as a fluid replacer. While once deemed valid, we now know differently.
A diuretic is a substance that causes your body to produce urine, and it's been suggested caffeine can do this because it increases blood flow through your kidneys.
There is evidence that caffeine in higher amounts acts as a diuretic in some people, but moderate intake is actually not that significant. The truth is, an average intake of caffeine-based beverages like coffee, cola does count towards fluid needs. Particularly if you're accustomed to consuming caffeine daily.
Tip: The incorporation of caffeine into an athlete's nutrition plan should be considered on an individual basis. Athletes should work with their Sports Dietitian to determine the lowest effective dose and best form of caffeine to minimize the risk of side effects. The athlete also needs to work with their Sports Dietitian to determine the most beneficial timing protocol, which may include taking caffeine:
· Before competition
· During competition
· Combination of before and throughout competition
Word from our expert at Combat Nutrition
Cappuccino is traditionally consumed once a day with breakfast in Italy where it was first created.
The top layer of foam acts as an insulator keeping the drink warmer for longer. It is also where you find the intense flavors; Ginger, cinnamon and cocoa powder, are the most popular choices of flavor followed closely by chia all with their own health benefits.
Caffeine is a great energy-boosting option for all (a key ingredient in Pre-workout supplements). Caffeine helps to raise thermogenesis making it easier to expand energy, lose fluid, and burn calories.
Caffeine is a stimulant with noticeable benefits enhancing mood, focus & alertness. Caffeine is the widest consumed nootropic/ psychoactive substance on the planet.
Until more recently, a dosage of 250mg caffeine Pre-event (2-3 coffees), would warrant a positive performance-enhancing drug test under USADA for caffeine inside of competition, when tested inside caffeine's half-life (2-12hrs depending on the individual's metabolism and liver health).
Taking all the above into account, should you really be stressing about the 0.2g difference in protein & carb macros or the 30 extra calories you might consume because of your choice in milk?
Enjoy your morning coffee and enjoy all the benefits it comes with
Not a coffee fan? Green tea contains higher amounts of caffeine than coffee, as well as being a more palatable choice, lower in macros without the milk and sweeteners.
Note: Those with medical conditions like hypertension or who are pregnant should not drink coffee without having a discussion with their medical practitioner.