CAFFEINE - OUR MISUNDERSTOOD FRIEND
Here’s something to help kick-start your day…
People have accused me of writing LONG blogs so as to ensure I don’t disappoint here’s the longest one yet. For those of you that can’t be bothered to read it all I’ll summarise it for you:
‘Drink a couple of cups of black coffee an hour before you train’
For those of you that want to know why, read on…
My latest find is really interesting and may well change your outlook towards caffeine as well as having HUGE benefits for sports people and anyone looking to lose weight.
Despite being found in foods such as coffee, tea, chocolate, fizzy drinks and several sports drinks, caffeine is actually classed as a drug, but not necessarily a bad one if used moderately.
In fact, healthy individuals can safely consume between 200 – 300 milligrams a day (a cup of coffee contains around 60 mg of caffeine).
Firstly caffeine acts on the nervous system thereby improving alertness and concentration.
Secondly, it metabolises your fat stores which in turn can be used as a source of energy, particularly useful when working out. In fact, one of the pros of caffeine is that it enables you to work (or train) for longer before ‘hitting the wall’.
Thirdly it increases your pain threshold meaning you can push yourself further before having to stop.
And finally, it also acts as an appetite suppressant, which is great for anyone that can’t stop eating.
There is a huge amount of research proving that caffeine improves performance in endurance activities.
One example with swimmers showed a 23-second improvement in a 21-minute swim. On average, caffeine was shown to improve endurance exercise by 12%.
Anyone thinking of trying caffeine as part of a training supplement should do so as follows:
Take 1 – 2 cups of coffee (approx 60mg per cup) or a caffeinated sports drink (they contain around 100mg) about an hour before you train.
Research showed that taking more than two cups made no difference to performance. Research also showed that keeping your daily consumption of caffeine below 300 mg a day DIDN’T make you go to the toilet any more than drinking the same amount of water did.
The bad news, don’t add milk.
Unfortunately, milk slows down the caffeine absorption so will cancel out the positive effects. A cup of coffee will only be effective if taken black.
The Good news – consider a double espresso if you can’t drink black coffee (as there’s less of it), otherwise get used to it as it’s going to super charge your training.
More bad news though, if you are caffeine sensitive you may experience some side effects.
However the good news is that for most of us, keeping below the daily recommended amount (300 mg) should be fine.
Even more bad news – taking caffeine regularly builds up your resistance to it.
The good news – lay off the coffee for a few days and it will be out of your system.
In fact, anyone thinking of using caffeine to help give them the competitive edge is best advised to lay off it for a week before re-introducing it.
More good news – studies have shown that caffeine does not dehydrate you as once popularly thought. In fact, a study found cyclists were able to rehydrate using a cola drink containing caffeine just as well as cyclists rehydrating on water.
Kids and caffeine
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend increasing a child’s caffeine intake in this way as some kids have enough caffeine in their diets as it is.
Caffeine is found in many fizzy drinks as well as chocolate – popular foods amongst kids. In fact there’s as much caffeine in certain chocolates as there is in a cup of coffee.
If your child seems hyperactive, loaded with energy and can’t sit still… try cutting out the fizzy drinks and chocolate and see what happens.