How can caffeine enhance athletic performance?June 16, 2014
Caffeine is the most consumed psychoactive substance in the world. It can be found in plants, prescription and non-prescription medication, cola soft drinks, and energy drinks. In the world of athletics, caffeine is an ergogenic aid, a substance used for a competitive advantage.
There is general agreement that caffeine does not appear to benefit athletes in short-term exercise, such as sprints, that have durations of a few seconds up to 90 seconds. These short-term exercises derive their energy from the anaerobic system. However, caffeine does seem to help endurance athletes in sports such as cycling, running and soccer.
How does it work? Muscles use glycogen to fuel the body and once depleted, exhaustion occurs. Another source of fuel the body uses is fat. Caffeine may encourage muscles to use fat as it mobilizes fat stores. This delays the depletion of muscle glycogen allowing an individual to exercise longer before exhaustion occurs.
The consumption of 3- 9 mg/kg of body weight has been found to increase endurance performance in cycling and running as observed in a laboratory setting. However the higher the mg/kg intake does not necessary equate to a better performance. Moderate caffeine ingestion of 5-6 mg/kg of body weight by cyclists during a laboratory setting has shown to increase performance in bouts of 4-6 minutes of intensity.
When deciding to use caffeine it is wise to know that everybody will react differently and performance can decrease due to the side effects. Using it in training and evaluating how an individual responds to caffeine maybe the best way to approach it before using it in competition.
References from the SIRC Collection:
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3. CHOW E. Caffeine and Performance. Bicycle Paper. March 2014;43(1):5.
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7. Spence A, Sim M, Landers G, Peeling P. A Comparison of Caffeine Versus Pseudoephedrine on Cycling Time-Trial Performance. International Journal Of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism. October 2013;23(5):507-512.
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