According to ACSM, caffeine may be the most widely used stimulant in the world. It can come in many forms such as coffee, nutrition supplements, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate. Caffeine can reach its highest levels in the blood approximately one hour after ingestion. It can have a stimulant effect on the brain as well as affect blood pressure, pulse rate, stomach acid production (refer to Florida Cycling Magazine article, “Is it Really The Gluten?” by Dr. Rick Kattouf II) and fat stores. Many athletes use caffeine as a potential ergogenic aid and performance enhancer.
According to the Journal of the international Society of Sports Nutrition, caffeine in the amount equivalent to 1-3 cups of coffee lowers heart rate during submaximal exercise but not at near maximal or maximal exercise. The effects of caffeine were measured during dynamic leg exercise on a cycle ergometer. According to the Journal of Applied Physiology, no significant differences were noted in terms of heart rate.
Caffeine may help mobilize fat stores, enabling the body to use fat as its primary fuel source. By utilizing fat as fuel, this allows the body to spare glycogen; an additional fuel source for the body stored in the muscles and liver. By delaying muscle glycogen depletion, exercise can be prolonged enabling the athlete to go harder, longer, faster and perform more reps before fatigue. Glycogen sparing is most crucial in the first 15 minutes of exercise. This is when caffeine can help significantly decrease glycogen depletion.
Recent work, according to the ACSM, on well-trained athletes reported that 3-9mg caffeine per kg (kilogram) of body weight one-hour prior to exercise increased running and cycling endurance in the laboratory. According to the IOC (International Olympic Committee), athletes are allowed up to 12 ug (micorgrams) caffeine per milliliter urine before it is considered illegal (15 ug as per the NCAA). These limits allow athletes to consume ‘normal’ amounts of caffeine prior to competition.
Caffeine may also enhance recovery after exercise. According to the American Physiological Society, four-hours post-exercise, muscle glycogen increased 66 percent by ingesting a carbohydrate drink containing caffeine as compared to the carbohydrate-only drink. This type of increase in muscle glycogen makes the next day’s workout that much more productive. The carbohydrate and caffeine drink post-exercise also resulted in higher blood glucose and plasma insulin.
Each individual can respond differently to caffeine. It can have many side effects such as poor sleep quality, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, headaches, muscle cramping, dehydration and anxiety. Caffeine can also have a diuretic effect by increasing blood flow to the kidneys and inhibiting the reabsorption of sodium and water. According to the AMA Council on Scientific Affairs, moderate consumption of caffeine likely has no negative effect on one’s health, as long as an otherwise healthy nutrition and fitness lifestyle is followed.
In summary, caffeine may help to enhance performance and recovery. As with any ‘supplement’, be sure to use responsibly and always consult with your physician if you have any questions regarding caffeine use and your known medical condition(s), current medications, etc.
2x Best-Selling Author and Fitness & Nutrition expert Dr. Rick Kattouf has been named one of America’s PremierExperts® and one of the World Fitness Elite™ Trainers of the Year. He has been seen on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates around the country as well as in the USA Today, Chicago Tribune and The Independent in the UK. Rick is the CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf, Inc., CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf Nutrition LLC, Creator of TeamKattouf Nutrition Supplements, Host of Rx Nutrition, author of Forever Fit, Creator of 5-Round Fury Fitness™ workout app, Sports Nutrition Specialist, ITCA Triathlon Coach, MMA Conditioning Coach, Food Psychology Coach, Wellness and Nutrition Consultant, Sports Nutrition Consultant, Heart Rate Performance Specialist, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. Rick can reached at www.teamkattouf.com or www.5roundfury.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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