Caffeine is naturally produced in seeds, leaves and fruits of several plants and is a common substance found in many drinks and foods. Although caffeine is usually synonymous with coffee, many soft drinks, teas and other substances contain caffeine as well.
Surveys have revealed that caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world. The stimulant has been around for thousands of years and is currently more popular than ever. Today, it seems like there’s a coffee stand on just about every corner.
In its raw form, caffeine has a very bitter taste. This taste is frequently disguised by most drinks. The effects of caffeine on exercise have been well documented, and many sports supplements and energy drinks currently contain caffeine as one of the primary ingredients.
General Effects of Caffeine on the Body
Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant that temporarily gives you energy and alertness, while warding off drowsiness. In 1958, the Food and Drug Administration labeled coffee as a generally safe substance. This cardiovascular stimulant delays fatigue and typically takes less than an hour to affect your body.
People who are sensitive to caffeine can feel its effects up to six hours after consumption; however, most people’s blood concentrations of caffeine will usually peak within 45 minutes of ingestion and the effects can last for over an hour.
Caffeine and Strength Training
We have all had the days in the gym where getting through a workout felt like a daunting task. Whether you’re training for competition or to stay in shape, sometimes an extra push is just what you need to stay motivated.
Can caffeine provide that much needed stimulation during grueling workouts? Well, according to research caffeine can have a positive outcome on sports performance.
Study 1: The International Journal of Sport’s Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism published a study in which rugby players were administered between 200 and 800 milligrams of caffeine one hour prior to participation in a weightlifting program.
The results: In players who lifted weights without ingesting caffeine, their testosterone rose 15% during training. Players who were administered the highest dose of 800 mg of caffeine had a 21% increase in testosterone levels during weightlifting training.
Study 2: In another study, published in 2008 by the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, researchers studied the direct effects of caffeine on strength. As in the previous study, caffeine and a placebo were given to athletes prior to performing weightlifting exercises.
The results: During the bench press exercise, subjects who were administered caffeine prior to exercise were able to lift more weight than the placebo group.
Perceived Overall Exertion
Another benefit of caffeine prior to exercise that has been frequently reported is its effect on perceived overall exertion. This is the widely accepted measurement of the level of intensity that you feel during a workout or physical activity.
According to the Journal of Sports Medicine, people that took caffeine prior to working out exhibited a decreased sense of perceived overall exertion. This can lead to less pain and a better sense of enjoyment during training.
Additional Training Effects of Caffeine on the Body
Caffeine is most commonly known as an energy stimulant. A 2010 study published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition revealed that caffeine as an energy supplement is beneficial for “high intensity exercise of prolonged duration.”
Another benefit of caffeine is its ability to increase alertness. This is why many people drink coffee in the morning to help him wake up. In the above-mentioned 2008 study, caffeine was also shown to increase alertness during training.
Risks Associated with Caffeine
Caffeine clearly has several benefits if taken before exercise; however, there are certain risks associated with the stimulant:
1. High Blood Pressure
While an increased heart rate may be beneficial during exercise, people with high blood pressure or heart conditions should consult their physician prior to consumption of products containing caffeine.
Everyone’s caffeine tolerance is different. Some people may become nauseous after too much caffeine. It generally takes between 400 to 500 milligrams of caffeine before it causes nausea in most people.
Most cups of coffee contain about 100 mg of caffeine.
The Mayo Clinic warns that too much coffee or caffeine can cause you to become irritable. Irritability and anxiety are common byproduct of excessive caffeine consumption. Ingestion of up to 600 milligrams of caffeine a day is considered heavy use of caffeine notes the Mayo Clinic.
This common side effect goes hand-in-hand with irritability and anxiety. Although not typically a serious side effect, if you feel jittery or nervous, you may want to limit your intake of caffeine.