Caffeine supplementation


Caffeine is nervous system stimulant and one of, if not number one, most commonly used psychoactive drug. It has also been used as performance enchanter for hundreds of years. Can be taken in form of pill, powder, chewing gum or caffeinated drink.

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What does science say about this? Caffeine, among few other, has been proven to contribute to marginal performance gains if used as supplement. [1] Caffeine is proven to boost performance, had great responsiveness among athletes tested and demonstrated to be useful during all physically demanding events (sprints, hurdle run, marathon, jumps…). It has benefits in both endurance-based and short, high intensity or submaximal effort tasks. Dosage taken when conducting study was around 3-6 mg per kilo of body weight, 60 minutes prior to exercise; this is the amount when performance gain was noticed. Other benefits that have been recorded is improvement in anaerobic and high intensity exercises, endurance improvement by 12%, bench press muscle endurance, sprint performance among footballers. On the other hand, it showed no performance effect on cycling over 100 km. [4] Even lower doses, bellow 3mg/kg of body mass has shown results. [2] High dose has shown no benefit and even increases chances of negative side effects like nausea, insomnia and anxiousness.
If we break this into numbers, improvement in performance has been noted:

  • Before events, 5-150 minutes, 3-7% improvement
  • During endurance (after 15-80 minutes), Low to moderate dose (100-300 mg), 3-7% improvement
  • 1 hour prior to Short, sub-maximum tasks; 3-6 mg/kg body weight; 3% improvement in anaerobic activities

So, in conclusion; caffeine can be used as performance enhancer; keep an eye on withdrawal periods prior to competition; regular daily intake will lower benefits; and as always, moderation is the key.
Response to coffee is different among individuals, both athletes and general population. Why this happens might be answered by recent discovery. Effects of caffeine is influenced by different genes involved in metabolism of caffeine inside liver. [3] This is why everyone should first do trial dosing before implementing it into diet, especially prior to competition.
Try it in your every-day life and see how you respond to it, how is your heart rate responding, does it change quality of your sleep, induce anxiousness… Higher dose of caffeine, more than 600 mg, has shown to induce dehydration; lower dose on the other hand does not affect hydration status. If you consume caffeine regularly, there is need for “withdrawal” or tolerance break, few days prior to competition to achieve performance improvement. Studies that are confirming
withdrawal theory might be focusing more on negative effects of withdrawal rather than positive ones. If you plan on starting, go with low dose from 1 and climb to up to 4 mg/kg of body mass. Consume it straight before, during or late into activity to avoid fatigue. If you are oversensitive, it is best to avoid it and try other supplements.

References:

  1. Burke, L.M., Jeukendrup, A.E., Jones, A.M., & Mooses, M. (2019). Contemporary nutrition strategies to optimize
    performance in distance runners and race walkers. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 29.
    doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2019-0004.
  2. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsnem/29/2/article-p198.xml
  3. Guest, N., Corey, P., Vescovi, J., & El-Sohemy, A. (2018). Caffeine, CYP1A2 genotype, and endurance performance in athletes. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 50(8), 1570–1578. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001596
  4. A. Bean, The complete guide to Sports Nutrition, 2017

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