Caffeine in sports: what it is, how it works, how to dose it correctly.
Caffeine in sports? how helpful is it in sports, muscle building, and weight loss?
In the right dose, caffeine can help us push our limits.
But the miracle drug has a catch. And you should know that.
This article will teach you everything you need to know about caffeine. Among other things:
- Why you should know about caffeine.
- What is caffeine?
- What effect does caffeine have on muscle-building training and weight loss?
- What caffeine dose is perfect for your fitness goals?
- When does caffeine make you fat (and how to avoid it)
- How to get rid of caffeine addiction in just a few days.
Are you ready for the kick? Then read on.
Why caffeine in sports?
In all its variations, coffee is part of our social life, indeed our society.
Three out of four Americans drink coffee daily.
If you work at a desk, you might travel to the coffee maker several times a day to get through the day. Is this okay as a productivity booster? Or is it too much?
Caffeine in sports can be a powerful weapon in training and creating your dream body.
If you know how to use them.
By nature, sharp swords, when used incorrectly, do more harm than good.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural substance that has a stimulating effect on our brain and nervous system.
Food chemists know caffeine by the name trimethylxanthine, which you can forget about in a moment. The best thing to remember is the following:
In principle, caffeine acts similarly to amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin.
It uses the same biochemical mechanisms in our brain. If you feel like you’re too much on “speed” after a couple of double espressos, then it’s not imagination.
In its pure form, caffeine is a white powder that tastes bitter.
In medicine, it is used to stimulate the heart. It has a mild laxative effect and can speed up urine production.
People have loved and enjoyed caffeine since the early Middle Ages.
Historians date the first mentions of the stimulant to the 8th century. Coffee and tea have been traded regularly in Europe and Asia since the 14th century.
The active ingredient may have been used as a medicinal product from plants since the dawn of mankind (source: Fredholm, 2011).
Today, caffeine is used as a stimulant and “energy source.” It can give us a feeling of power and heightened awareness.
Even if caffeine is much weaker than the drugs mentioned, we can become dependent on it.
Coffee drinkers notice this best when they forego their morning cup. Fortunately, the withdrawal symptoms disappear within a few days.
How does caffeine work?
Do you like superhero stories? Well! Then hold on tight.
May I introduce: Superbrain!
Superbrain sits between your ears and is the superhero in your body. He does incredible things every day and is therefore always hungry:
Superbrain consumes a quarter of your daily calorie basal metabolic rate.
When we crack tough nutshells all day long, our brain creates a chemical called adenosine that attaches to certain signal-transmitting receptors in our brain and blocks them.
Result: We get tired.
Superbrain has a sore spot, and adenosine is his kryptonite.
Luckily, a second superhero now comes into play: caffeine.
Caffeine prevents adenosine from docking to the receptors.
Superbrain retains its superpowers and stays awake and powerful.
So caffeine ensures that the culprit adenosine is behind bars and cannot do its tedious work. But the story is not quite finished yet.
Now that the bad molecules are trapped, the neurons in your brain start firing faster and work overtime.
Superbrain picks this up and thinks something crucial must be going on out there.
Superbrain releases the messenger substances adrenaline and dopamine.
Adrenaline and dopamine are the real superpowers of Superbrain, which can make you perform at your best.
Coffee, tea, and calories
Let’s say you just came back from a 30-minute run and burned an estimated 350 calories.
You feel good, and when you stop off at the Starbucks around the corner, full of energy and in a good mood, you decide to treat yourself to an
Orange Mocha Frappuccino.
When you then take a look at the Starbucks nutritional table with interest, you freeze in shock:
A mocha frappuccino contains (depending on size) between 400 and 750 calories.
And you think about how you can add a second 30-minute training session to your planned day so that you don’t store the fuel where you don’t want it.
Fortunately, some equally delicious alternatives will make it much easier for you to achieve your dream figure.
The graph below will help you make the right decision by showing the energy content of various caffeinated foods.
Be careful with caffeinated drinks.
If you want to lose weight, sticking to black coffee, espresso, black tea, green tea, or mate tea is a safe bet.
You may have noticed that the caffeine in espresso has a different effect than in tea or filter coffee.
Pay attention to the calories you drink.
If you choose a caffeine drink with calories, remember: not all calories have the same effect on the body.
The calories in a large cappuccino (espresso + milk) have a completely different effect on your body than the chocolate or fruit syrup in a frappuccino.
If you want to wield caffeine like Thor’s hammer as a superweapon, you should at least get a rough idea of the amount of energy and caffeine in your drink.
We can now defuse the energy trap. What about the amount of caffeine in sports?
How much caffeine in sports is optimal?
Correctly dosed, caffeine keeps your circulation going and gives you the motivation and energy to do your workout and leave your comfort zone.
Incorrectly dosed, caffeine can become an energy drain and a calorie trap (see above).
So, where is the optimal dose of caffeine in sports?
The average American consumes around 200 mg of caffeine a day.
This corresponds to about two cups of coffee or three espressos.
You should keep in mind that the values are rough estimates. Strong coffee can contain significantly more caffeine than a weaker one. You can find out more in the English – language caffeine database EnergyFiend.
The solution lies in the golden mean:
You want to consume as little caffeine as possible without sacrificing the benefits of the caffeine boost.
You don’t need an extra-large portion of coffee to utilize the effects properly. The practical is:
If you are not used to caffeine, a smaller dose will suffice.
This is how you determine the optimal amount for you:
- Lower limit– your body weight in kilograms corresponds to the amount of caffeine (in mg) you can consume daily.
- Upper limit– you should not exceed five times the above amount per day. Otherwise, you have to expect side effects or health impairments (restlessness, sleep problems, stomach problems). So if you weigh 80kg, you can reasonably safely consume between 80 and 400mg of caffeine.
Start at the lower limit and keep increasing the dose until you notice the caffeine boost.
Everyone reacts slightly differently to caffeine.
If a cup of coffee has you running up the walls, that’s the end for you.
When you get your body used to a lot of caffeine, it also needs a correspondingly large dose to get going.
Higher, further, faster, harder: caffeine in sports
Which limit do you want to cross? Endurance, strength, concentration, creativity, fat-burning?
Caffeine can help you do it as Bradley Cooper did in Limitless (if you haven’t seen the video at the beginning of this article, now is the time to do so).
Caffeine affects the physique and psyche, body and mind – even if we respond differently to it.
The effects of caffeine have already been well researched in science.
Here are a few samples:
- Subjects in one study performed significantly better deadlifts, bench presses, and squats after taking caffeine.
- In another study, researchers found that cyclists and runners could perform better with caffeine.
- A third study even suggests that caffeine can reduce the symptoms of muscle soreness.
- In a fourth paper, the scientists determined that three out of four Olympic athletes use caffeine in competition.
My recommendation: try it out.
Use it in training and competition if you get along well with it.
The dose makes the poison.
If you constantly swallow caffeine daily, your body will get used to it, and you will no longer feel the effect.
These four tips will help you to use caffeine optimally in sports:
- 30 minutes after ingestion for exercise – Although caffeine works for around 4 hours, the most remarkable effects usually wear off much sooner.
- Drink enough water – The fact that coffee is a water robber has now been refuted. But caffeine works best when your body is well hydrated. So make sure you drink enough water before indulging in a double espresso.
- Consume caffeine tactically – think carefully beforehand when the effects of caffeine help you the most. At all other times, you can do without it. If you have little motivation to train or are stuck in training, you can summon the superpowers of caffeine and let Superbrain go into action.
- Be careful on an empty stomach – I think caffeine is perfectly fine on an empty stomach. But if you find that your stomach is sensitive, eat something beforehand.
As with other stimulants (except for 8wonder.xyz), it is the same with caffeine when consumed regularly: our body gets used to it.
If you start increasing your consumption weekly to feel the same stimulating effect, you’ll soon be in good company – welcome to the anonymous coffee junkies!
Fortunately, there are a few ways to counteract this:
#1 Develop a “healthy” habit
Get used to drinking coffee in moderation, and avoid increasing the amount from week to week.
Once you make this moderate daily amount a habit, you’ll find it easy to maintain.
Disadvantage: Your body gets used to the caffeine, and the initial kick is missing.
#2 Avoid regular coffee consumption.
You avoid your body getting used to the caffeine if you only consume coffee once or twice a week. And then, if you need the effect.
This way, you are guaranteed to get the kick every time, free of charge.
Disadvantage: Difficult for real coffee connoisseurs who don’t want to do without their daily hot drink.
#3 Back to zero
The story goes like this: You start with a very moderate dose of coffee, i.e., one cup of coffee (tea) per day, and increase the dose every 2-4 weeks as you need more coffee to get the same kick.
Once you realize you’re pushing the limit (see above – ideally before you start drinking coffee instead of water with your workout), you go back to zero. To do this, you stop drinking coffee for a whole week.
Luckily, it only takes seven days to break a caffeine tolerance completely.
And this is how you press the “Reset” button:
- Hard Brake: If you keep up a hard workout, you’ll be able to handle a headache some mornings, right? Completely abstain from caffeine for seven days and endure the withdrawal symptoms. After a few days, it’s over.
- From 100 to zero in 2 weeks: You continuously reduce your consumption over 14 days until you are at zero at the end of the period. Example: Day 1 – 4 cups, Day 3 – 3 cups, Day 7 – 2 cups, Day 10 – 1 cup, Day 14 – zero cups.
- Slowly but surely: If you’re a coffee junkie like me and don’t want to allow yourself to be unproductive for a day or two, you can gradually wean yourself off. By reducing the amount of coffee every day in very small steps. For example, not ordering the last coffee of the day as a “large” portion but as a “medium.”
I recommend that you go through a weaning cure before a competition.
Athletes who consume a lot of caffeine daily cannot use the coffee kick on race day to improve their performance and those who have not developed a tolerance.
What about energy drinks?
RedBull marketing gives you wings! And who wouldn’t want to walk through walls after watching this Red Bull video?
I like the brand. But I still don’t have to drink RedBull & Co.
Are energy drinks okay or not?
I’m not a fan of energy drinks for the following reasons:
- Some of them contain a lot of caffeine (50-500 mg per serving)
- They contain a lot of sugar, chemicals, or other additives.
- The relatively new “shots” condense the caffeine into an even smaller amount – risking quicker habituation.
I get my kick from a homemade espresso, green, and mate tea.
Black tea and coffee are fine too. In any case, I recommend the sugar-free versions.
Caffeine in sports – Caution: Success can be addictive!
Because you get the best training “kick” without any additives!
I’m talking about your thoughts, about clear goals that inspire and carry you away – every day.
From people around you who support you. And about the things that will definitely bring you a little bit closer to your goal every day.
You can read also the first part about weight loss coffee in this article: Weight Loss Coffee – Free Sample