What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is one of the world's most popular products and used by a large majority of the population. It is a chemical compound that was discovered in 1819 by a German chemist and it’s health and performance enhancing benefits have been backed by years of research. Used widely across the world with upto 80% of the world's population contributing to the consumption of caffeine via either, coffee or caffeine containing drinks.
How does it work?
Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS).
It is absorbed into the bloodstream from the gut and blocks the effects of adenosine.
Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel tired and relaxes the brain.
By blocking this it helps keep you awake for longer periods of time.
It's also shown to increase other signalling molecules such as dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline levels.
How can caffeine improve your performance?
Caffeine has been shown to actively enhance various aspects of exercise performance.
With the stimulation of the CNS you will benefit from such cognitive functions like, attention span, improved focus, concentration, reaction time and decision making, not to mention the general energy buzz and kick we get from our favourite caffeinated beverage.
Caffeine has also been shown that it may effectively increase fat oxidation during aerobic exercise of submaximal intensity via the increase in adrenaline and norepinephrine.
It's clear how effective caffeine can be on various exercise performance such as:
• Muscular endurance
• Movement velocity (speed)
• Sprinting and jumping
• Aerobic and anaerobic sport specific actions
How much caffeine should we consume?
Minimal effective dose for caffeine maye be slow as 1-2mg/kg of body mass and can go upto as high as 6mg/kg.
This can vary depending on an individual's tolerance levels and body mass make up.
It has been shown that consuming between 3-6mg /kg is a very effective dose on performance. Doses as high as 9mg/kg are associated with high incidence of side effects and should be avoided!
When is the best time to consume caffeine?
Caffeine is shown to reach peak blood levels 45-60minutes post ingestion.
In summary caffeine can
- significantly increase the workout intensity
- significantly increase endurance
- Improve concentration and alertness
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Collado-Mateo D, Lavín-Pérez AM, Merellano-Navarro E, Coso JD. Effect of Acute Caffeine Intake on the Fat Oxidation Rate during Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2020 Nov 24;12(12):3603. doi: 10.3390/nu12123603. PMID: 33255240; PMCID: PMC7760526.
Nehlig A, Daval JL, Debry G. Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1992 May-Aug;17(2):139-70. doi: 10.1016/0165-0173(92)90012-b. PMID: 1356551.
- Damian Adams
Sports Nutritionist & Performance Coach