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Microsoft word - allassociates-caffeine for sport-2009-06-04
The Buzz on Caffeine for Sport
By Carole Dobson
National Trainer RPM & BODYPUMP
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is an organic compound found most commonly in the seeds of coffee plants. It is
the most widely used drug in the world, found in coffee, colas, caffeine pills, some medications, and
herbal products using the term guarana (seed, extract, or root), coffee beans, mate, and chocolate. What does it do and is it permitted for use in sport?
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, cardiac muscle, the respiratory system, and
skeletal muscle, which is why it is called an ergogenic aid and is classified as a restricted substance by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
How much is in foods and drinks?
Drip brewed coffee – 100 mg in a 6 oz cup (most people drink 8, 12, 24 oz cups) Starbucks coffee – grande (16 oz), 550 mg; tall (12 oz) 375 mg, short (8 oz) 250 mg Tea – 70 mg in 6 oz Colas (coke, pepsi, mountain dew) – 30-90 mg in 12 oz (7-11 big gulp cola – 190) Jolt – 70 mg in 12 oz Milk chocolate – 3-6 mg/oz Anacin (headache) – 32 mg per tablet Dark chocolate bar – 30 mg Hot chocolate – 4 mg/cup The amount of caffeine in various “energy" drinks varies and is not always listed
What do scientists have to say?
In lab tests, caffeine prior to exercise often enhances performance during prolonged
endurance cycling and running. A moderate dose increases short term intense cycling (lasting about 5 minutes) in the lab and decreases swim time for 1500 m (lasting about 20 min). It sometimes reduces recovery times, especially for well-trained athletes not used to its effects.
This sounds great but lab results have many limitations, such as the tests are all conducted
with well trained athletes only, therefore the results may not be applicable to the general public. They generally use tablet forms of caffeine, and in the real world caffeine consumption often comes from coffee, which contains hundreds of other chemicals, not pills. Some studies have demonstrated performance increases with “pure” tablet forms of caffeine, but then with the same amount of caffeine from coffee, no effects were noticed. Unfortunately due to the lack field tests for caffeine and to great variability in individual’s responses to caffeine, the effects of caffeine on individual performance, optimal dose, how it is best administered, and the best time to take it cannot be predicted at this time.
How caffeine increases performance is also not clear because there is so many different
ways that caffeine affects our bodies, but there are three main theories supported by scientists. The first is the direct effect on the central nervous system that affects the perception of effort, making tasks seem easier. The second is the direct stimulatory effect of caffeine on skeletal muscle. And the third is the classic theory, which suggests during exercise caffeine increases the use of fat for energy. This spares glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrates, for later use as fuel for muscles. In addition, caffeine also stimulates epinephrine release, which gets muscles ready for action, opens airways, and increases heart rate. There are also the two substances that caffeine is broken down into by your body, it is not clear if they have any role to play here and no major studies have included them.
How will it affect me?
Caffeine concentrations peak in the blood stream 30-60 minutes after ingestion and it takes
4-6 hours for the effects to wear off. This means if you drink a big cup of coffee (200 mg of caffeine)
at 3pm, at 9pm you will still have about 100 mg in your blood. A moderate caffeine intake has been
described as 300 mg/day or in other words, 3 small cups of coffee throughout the day. Are there any side effects?
There are many side effects to be noted with caffeine, especially if you do not ingest it
regularly. Even a so called moderate dose, in a 180 lb person is 490 mg, which can be effective for exercise lasting 1 – 120 min, but such large doses can make the athlete feel light-headed and if ingested too far in advance it can also have a laxative and diuretic effect that would negatively affect performance. There are changes in calcium and magnesium levels that could lead to changes in muscle contractions and cramps. Caffeine intake can result in sleep deprivation (especially deep sleep), nervousness, anxiety, and panic disorders. Reduced sensitivity and dependence are possible, due to caffeine’s actions in the brain. Diuresis is noted as well, which is loss of water through excessive urination. Some research suggests this was not noted when caffeine was consumed in a fluid replacement drink. Withdrawal is also noted with abrupt discontinuance, and can involve headache, fatigue, decreased vigour, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and craving. Risk of long-term use is not clear, though chronic high levels of coffee ingestion has been related to heart disease, cancer and birth defects.
Caffeine counteracts the effects of creatine if you use this supplement. An old study
reported that high carbohydrate diets negate the effects of caffeine on performance, but this has
been proven not to be true in cyclists and runners. Take home message
In conclusion, be sure to read labels of foods, medications, and supplements to know where the
caffeine in your diet comes from, and know the effect it has on you personally.
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