Caffeine - Benefits in Sports Performance and Running
Coffee was originally discovered for over 1000 years and is one of the most consumed beverages in the world (it´s only surpassed by the water). Caffeine, the main substance of coffee, is the stimulant drug most widely used in the world and also one of the most studied. Despite being considered a drug, it is completely legal. In 2004 caffeine was deleted from the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency. This was due to the positive effects you get by socially acceptable doses of caffeine without being addicted.
After the intake, caffeine is quickly absorbed by the body. It reaches the peak blood concentration between one to two hours after ingestion. The concentration of caffeine in the blood decreases 50% to 75% at the end of three to six hours. For this reason, the American College of Sports Medicine says that caffeine intake, must occur at least one hour before training to improve the performance of the athlete. During long-term training it can be positive to fractionate the intake throughout the activity.
But where can we find the caffeine?
This substance is found in many drinks such as coffee (espresso has about 75 mg of caffeine and a cup of coffee has between 95 to 200 mg), green tea (250 mL of this tea has between 20 to 40 mg of caffeine), black tea (250 mL has 40 to 60 mg of caffeine), at Coca Cola and Pepsi (about 80 mg of caffeine per cup) Red Bull (80 mg per can) and in some sports drinks (between 48 to 300 mg caffeine per serving). In addition, caffeine is also present in foods such as dark chocolate (10 to 50 mg per 60 grams) and in milk chocolate (10 to 15 mg per 60 grams).
What are the benefits of caffeine in combination with sports?
Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of caffeine in combination with sports. It shows positives effects on long term and short term performances. Caffeine is a stimulant which leads to an increase in the production of adrenaline and other similar hormones, having an effect at the level of the Central Nervous System. It decreases the perception of fatigue and tiredness associated with the effort. On the other hand it increases reaction, concentration, speed and motor coordination. Besides, the action of caffeine increases the energy levels and contributes to weight loss and body fat reduction (see article 7 foods that help burn calories). Researchers gave Australian athletes a dose of 300 mg of caffeine (the equivalent of four espresso), one hour before a sprint (6 x 20 m) . The conclusion was that runners who had consumed caffeine had a better reaction time and speed racing.
And what is the ideal dosage of caffeine per day?
The indicated dose varies from person to person depending on weight, gender and age. However, on average between three and six mg/Kg are suggested. For example a person with 70 Kg can consume between 210 to 420 mg of caffeine per day. The consumption of higher doses than these values does not bring any additional benefit. On the contrary, it increases the likelihood of adverse effects as: tachycardia, headache, gastrointestinal disorders, anxiety, fatigue, muscle stiffness and insomnia.
- As caffeine is a product that causes a certain dependency, if you want to have a competitive advantage, stop taking for a few days or significantly reduce the consumption before a competition. So, will cause your body to suffer a reduction of tolerance to caffeine, and when using again will feel a greater effect.
- If you have heart problems, suffer from insomnia or stomach problems should avoid the consumption of coffee and other caffeinated products.
For your next training try to consume a cup of coffee between 1-1,5 hours before your start. Then you will see if there will be difference in your performance!