EFFECTS OF CAFFEINE ON PERFORMANCE
Caffeine and working out
Caffeine – we all consume it in one form or another. Don’t deny it. Many can’t start their day without a cup of coffee, while others enjoy a soft drink with lunch or dinner. Is it any good for you though? The simple is answer is: yes, when used correctly.
This may come as a surprise, but caffeine is very beneficial for athletes and anyone who works out. In fact, it is the most common supplement among bodybuilders and gym rats. Studies show that caffeine can increase alertness, sharpen focus, improve mood, boost pain tolerance, burn fat and improve endurance. An estimated 80% of North Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis, so plenty of people clearly know it does something. So, how exactly does it help when it comes to working out?
Caffeine promotes spinal cord excitability and muscle fiber recruitment, while also lowering the perception of muscle fatigue and pain. It has been shown to improve physical performance while delaying the onset of mental fatigue. Don’t believe it? Check out the caffeine-related numbers below:
– Endurance athletes improved performance by an average of 3.3%
– Strength and power sports performance improved up to 20%
– Sprinters improved performance by an average of 6.5%
– Weightlifters improved performance by an average of 6.5%
– Rate of perceived fatigue is reduced by 6% on average
As with any supplement, there are some issues to look out for when it comes to using caffeine. It is a mild diuretic (as anyone used to a morning cup of joe can attest to), so you should increase hydration when working out and taking caffeine.
Caffeine is also addictive (surprise, surprise), and heavy users can experience withdrawal. If you notice symptoms such as headaches, anxiety and cravings when you don’t take caffeine, it’s time to cut back on your dosage when you do use it.
Finally, and obviously, caffeine can negatively impact your sleep cycle. Different people metabolize caffeine at different rates – some can have an afternoon coffee and get to sleep that evening just fine, while others can’t. Pay attention to how your body reacts to doses of caffeine so you learn how to time usage properly and avoid ruining your much-needed recovery sleep. However, no one should consume caffeine less than six hours before they intend to go to bed.
How much should I take? And when?
We can start to feel the effects of caffeine from as little as 20 mg of the substance, while the benefits max out around 200 mg. In fact, performance can start to decrease if you consume around 400 mg, so don’t overdo it. It is difficult to judge the caffeine content of coffee and tea, so those are not reliable for pre-workout use. Caffeine capsules tell you exactly how much you’re getting, and they also don’t contain any unwanted extras like sugar, which practically all soft drinks and energy drinks have.
In terms of timing, caffeine levels peak in the bloodstream roughly 60-90 minutes after consumption. So use your preferred caffeine source an hour or two before you work out in order to reap the most rewards. Good luck!