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Supplement Spotlight: Caffeine

May 08, 2018
Ashley Ann Lawrie

Caffeine is one of the most well researched and effective ergogenic aids for sports and exercise. When people think of performance enhancement they likely think of steroids, doping, and fancy tools like hyperbaric chambers. For the everyday person who simply needs a boost in their workouts, these expensive and damaging options are not so readily available. This is why caffeine is the focus of this week’s blog.

Research has shown that across all sport events and training modalities, caffeine can have a positive impact on the overall outcome. Endurance athletes are able to run longer, high-intensity athletes like rowers also benefit from the ergogenic effects of caffeine, and even the weekend warrior doing their 30 minute workout at Free Form Fitness can see a delay in muscle fatigue after consuming caffeine.

How Much Do We Need?

How much do we need in order to reap the rewards of this natural performance booster? Many research shows that ~3mg/kg of body mass is sufficient. Some studies had participants take upwards of 5mg/kg of body mass and saw a significant increase in the participant’s max reps. Caffeine supplements are an option but there are many other ways to get your caffeine fix.  Below is a list of foods and beverages with some of the highest amounts of caffeine that are available to all of us on a regular basis.

Venti Starbucks Blonde Roast: 475mg
Grande Starbucks Pike Place Roast: 310mg
Folgers House Blend: 60-80mg
Medium Tim Horton’s Coffee: 205mg
8oz Black Tea, Brewed: 47mg
8oz Green Tea Brewed: 29mg
12oz Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi: 34mg
5-hour energy: 200mg
16oz Monster Energy: 160mg
8oz Red Bull: 80mg
Grande Starbucks Hot Chocolate: 25
1Tbsp Hershey’s cocoa: 8mg

Other Benefits

Caffeine has also been shown to reduce the risk of liver cancer by as much as 50%! Other studies have shown that drinking 4 cups of caffeinated coffee can reduce the risk of throat and mouth cancer, and even improve long term memory. Studies have also found that adults who consumed 2-4 cups of coffee a day were at less of a risk of suicide than those who did not.

Negative Effects

Although caffeine is certainly one of the easiest and best ergogenic aids for exercise and sport performance, it is important to highlight some of the side effects of overconsumption. Just one cup of coffee can take around 15 minutes for its effects to be felt and these can last up to 6 hours. For this reason, individuals who are consuming large quantities of caffeine a day, or are consuming caffeine late into the evening can experience some issues sleeping. Caffeine is also mildly addictive, hence why pop producers use in it their beverages. Some individuals have reported feeling jittery and anxious after consuming a caffeinated substance and this is because it stimulates the central nervous system. It is so effective at doing this that if consumed in too large of a quantity for an individual who is sensitive to the drug, then the central nervous system becomes too active for that individual process. Some people also find that after consuming a caffeinated beverage or food that they experience some gastrointestinal issues like frequent and uncomfortable trips to the bathroom.

In the end it all comes down to a classic fitness and health principle – everything in moderation. Use this information to implement caffeine into your training and daily life and see how, and what, works for you. No two bodies will react exactly the same to a substance like caffeine. Let us know how you get your caffeine fix, or why you choose not to!

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