Caffeine is the most popular drug in the world. People have used it for both its good and bad effects. In the fitness world, this has been far more popular as of the past 10 years. Pre-workout supplements have taken the supplement world by storm ever since the introduction of NO EXPLODE. The combination of stimulants have brought athletes to a whole new level of performance, while getting that “pump high” that every athlete dreams about.
What is actually helping you?
I can go on and on about each stimulant that is included in the hundreds or even thousands of pre-workout products that are available on the market today. Each ingredient has its benefit or drawback depending on its specific dosage. I am going to make it really simple for you and tell you the single most important stimulant that drives each of these products and helps bring your workout to the next level. Caffeine! You can take all of the other stimulants you want, but the bottom line is that caffeine is what increases your performance when training for sports.
What does caffeine do?
Caffeine can be used as a drug, for food or as many athletes use it for, as a dietary supplement. Believe it or not, it is the most widely consumed behaviorally active substance in the world. When you ingest caffeine, your intestinal tract absorbs it rapidly giving you a very quick response or what’s called a “caffeine high”. This is going to extend your endurance in strenuous aerobic exercise like running and also in shorter duration maximal effort like weight training.
Caffeine’s Mechanism for Action
Ingesting caffeine within an hour of working out will actually help your body burn fat as it will take that fat and turn it into an exercise fuel. It will also spare your glycogen reserves, which are critical during any training session. Sparing these reserves benefits prolonged high-intensity exercise. Diminished glycogen in active muscles coincides with a reduced capacity to sustain a high rate of power input. In other words, you will not have the same endurance as you would if your body were to spare that glycogen. Caffeine will fight fat in either of two ways.
- It will work directly by drawing energy from your adipose and peripheral vascular tissues
- It will work indirectly from stimulating an epinephrine release by the adrenal medulla
Now I know what you’re thinking, “I’ll just drink 5 cups of coffee or take 3 scoops of pre-workout before I exercise then!” Please don’t. Also, this doesn’t mean that you should go chug some soda because it has caffeine in it. The amount of sugar will counteract the good effects of the caffeine. You shouldn’t be adding cream or sugar to your coffee if you decide to drink some before a workout. Black coffee will work the best, but if you can’t stand it and need to add something, put in a splash of almond milk and some stevia for a little sweetness.
As there are many positive effects of caffeine and sports training, there are always negatives. Your effects from caffeine become less apparent if you consume a high-carbohydrate diet or if you use caffeine habitually. Your body will eventually get used to the caffeine and the effects will die off slowly.
Caffeine can also cause restlessness, headaches, insomnia, nervous irritability, muscle twitching, tremulousness, psychomotor agitation, elevation of your heart rate, elevation of your blood pressure and trigger premature left ventricular contractions. Don’t freak out after reading this and throw out all of your coffee. Many of these effects are caused by an extreme dose of caffeine, but everyone is different. If you are receiving some of these side effects, you may want to consult with your doctor and see what is going on. Your body might not be able to handle the amount of caffeine that your are ingesting.
Caffeine also acts as a diuretic. This means that it will cause you to urinate more often. This could cause unnecessary pre-exercise loss of fluid that negatively affects your thermal balance and exercise performance in a hot environment. Basically you will become dehydrated faster, so remember to stock up on the water and stay hydrated.
What’s the verdict?
I definitely would recommend using caffeine as a supplement for any type of training or exercise that you may be performing. Not only will it aid in your endurance, but it will also help burn fat while you train. Like I said before, don’t go and ingest as much caffeine as you can, but a cup or two of coffee should help you in reaching all of your fitness goals.
Stay healthy my friends!