How Caffeine Improves Athletic Performance

By Prachi / May 26, 2016

Athletes resort to various measures to improve their performance nowadays. From taking steroids to adhering to tailor made diets and vigorous exercises they leave almost no stone unturned for succeeding at key sports events. Caffeine is often used by various types of athletes to boost performance. It is a stimulant that is found in coffee and many energy drinks along with specific foods. In nature, it can be found in more than 60 plant species. The World Anti-Doping Agency removed it from its list of restricted substances a decade back. It is also deemed safe by leading entities like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and American College of Sports Medicine. In Olympics and other important games, plenty of athletes use caffeine.

coffee athletes

The Nuances Of Caffeine Working On The Human Body

Once you intake, caffeine though food or drinks, it gets soaked in the body quite fast. It remains high in the bloodstream for 3 hours or so. Then the level starts dropping. Unlike many substances as well as health drinks and supplements, Caffeine can impact the cells all over human body. It also affects the muscles and brain cells directly. The major impacts of caffeine on the human body are listed below:

  • The nervous system– The CNS and nerves are energized, tiredness takes a backseat.
  • Fat burning- Caffeine reportedly helps enhance human body’s fat burning process.
  • Body temperature: Caffeine intake increases heat production, which aids fat burning.
  • Glycogen– Its intake can affect spare muscle carb stores which helps enhance endurance performance.
  • Heart rate- In taking the stimulant, increases heart rate for some time.

Caffeine keeps you alert by blocking adenosine a compound which sends signals for sleep and rest to body cells. So, for various athletic events like marathons, triathlons and cycling races, eating caffeine athletes a major performance boost. Nowadays, a lot of sports supplements and drinks are being laced with caffeine for this reason.

What The Studies Show

Over the years, a number of long and short term studies have been carried out on impact of caffeine intake on human body. It is true caffeine usage is beneficial for sports that involve repeated sprints over time. But it shows mixed results for sports like weightlifting. One good thing is that it does not induce dehydration in users even when taken in large amounts. It does not stay in your body for long and gets excreted through urine.

Ways To Intake Caffeine

The easiest way to intake more caffeine in the body is by drinking hot cups of coffee. However, there are other sources of this stimulant too. There are many sports drinks and bars that also contain caffeine. However coffee intake is better since coffee also offers you some antioxidants along with this stimulant. It is also important to know how much you need for your needs. For every kg of body mass, you will need 3 to 6 mg of caffeine on an average, say the health experts.

caffeine-source

When To Use Caffeine To Boost Performance

It is also necessary that you know the best time to intake, caffeine to boost performance at athletic events. If you intake it every day the body will surely develop a resistance and the effects will be less pronounced eventually. It has been seen habitual coffee drinkers do not suffer from its side effects too. You should intake, caffeine laced drinks or foods an hour before sports events. Caffeine metabolism, however may vary from one person to another, meaning the liver may take longer or slower to break it down.

Things That You Need To Keep In Mind About Caffeine Intake

While in taking caffeine may be helpful in boosting athletic performance, overdoing is certainly not a good idea, say the health experts. Eating more caffeine will not really enhance performance or alertness. On the contrary, it can lead to many side effects. The major documented side effects of caffeine’s side effects are:

  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramping
  • Increased heart rate
  • Irritation
  • Tremors
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Sleep disruption

However, these side effects do not mostly occur when you stick to the recommended dosage and it’s intensity may also vary. Taking too much caffeine can sometimes prove to be fatal and long term excess intake may lead to stomach ulcers. American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs says moderate consumption is not likely to cause any issue.

Health and fitness experts also add that just by adding caffeine to their meals and snacks, athletes should not expect any miracle. The benefits on stamina and alertness are there. However, it is no substitute for sports supplements, exercise and equipment.

Tips For Athletes For Benefitting From Caffeine

To get the maximum benefits from caffeine, athletes can resort to the below listed tips:

  • Choosing the right source of caffeine is important. You may benefit more by eating, sports nutrition bars with caffeine while some others prefer caffeine based beverages.
  • It would be best to tweak caffeine intake before the actual sports event. While drinking it daily may lead to onset of resistance in the body, drinking only on the day may not help much. To benefit the most,limit or reduce caffeine intake a week before the event.
  • If you area coffee drinker, reduce caffeine intake gradually before a sports event. Drastic reduction of caffeine intake may lead to the onset of what doctors refer as a caffeine withdrawal syndrome.

Include caffeine in your diet and you will find yourself feeling a lot more energetic and ready to take on the many challenges the day has to throw upon you!