For those looking to give their daily workout a boost, one of the best supplements is probably already in your pantry. Caffeine can provide you with a jolt in your workout and improve performance. Research suggests that a shot of the magical coffee stimulant improves endurance workout performance. Chances are good that a number of World Cup players are seeking to enhance their play with a bit of coffee induced energy. Results are mixed for strength training, but many bodybuilders swear by caffeine. Even if the strength benefits are difficult to assess, using the well-known stimulant prior to a workout does improve mental focus and the ability to concentrate.
The reason the stimulant boosts performance for endurance exercises such as running, cycling and soccer is its ability to cause the body to delay using glycogen to fuel muscles. The body uses stored fat and carbohydrates to provide energy to the muscles. According to research studies, the use of caffeine to provide a workout jolt allows the body to quickly begin to metabolize fats. By using fats for energy, the body delays the use of glycogen, which is stored in more limited amounts. Studies suggest that caffeine allows the body to delay use of stored glycogen for about 15 minutes. Instead of using entirely glycogen at the beginning of exercise as would typically be the case, the body uses only 50 percent glycogen. The longer glycogen depletion is put off, a higher total output of energy can be achieved.
In order to obtain the most benefits from caffeine ingested before a workout, the athlete should ingest the stimulant about an hour ahead of time. The caffeine needs to be in the bloodstream long enough before the workout in order to create the beneficial metabolism of stored fats. Further, for athletes using coffee or caffeine tablets, other caffeine use should be avoided. For those who slurp coffee by the cup, they are well aware that the body quickly develops a tolerance for caffeine. Accordingly, to reap the most exercise benefits from the widely available elixir, other caffeine use should be curtailed.
Research indicates that the glycogen benefits begin to occur at about 3 mg per kilogram of body weight, or every 2.2 pounds. For a 150 pound man, the caffeine benefits coincide with about 200 mg of the stimulant, which is about the amount of the substance found in a typical cup of coffee. Caffeine tablets are cheaper per dose if an athlete otherwise does not enjoy coffee.
As with any type of supplement, athletes should proceed with care. For those with high blood pressure or any type of heart condition, consultation with a physician should occur before starting an exercise regimen or using caffeine to boost performance. Too much caffeine can cause light-headedness or even dizziness and athletes must be cautious in their use of the stimulant. Some studies even suggest that caffeine reduces blood flow to the heart; therefore, use of the substance is not without risk.
For those looking to give their workout a jolt, caffeine provides an effective and cheap enhancement to endurance exercise results and may even assist with strength training. As with anything, athletes must be mindful of the risks. A cup of joe may be a workout’s best friend.
By William Costolo