Caffeine is certainly America’s pre-workout supplement of choice and a cheap and effective supplement for bodybuilders and endurance athletes alike. Not only do athletes and fitness enthusiasts use caffeine, but the majority of America does. In fact, between 80 and 90% of Americans habitually consume caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, or energy drinks. Caffeine does more than just wake you up. It can actually help you burn fat and recover from your workouts more effectively. Nevertheless, you should always consume caffeine in moderation or it may become a major headache…literally.
What Does Caffeine Do?
Caffeine is a stimulant that gives you extra stamina and increases your heart rate by increasing adrenaline and releasing powerful hormones similar to the fight or flight response, improving blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. Caffeine acts to increase the activity of your central nervous system, which can increase your athletic and exercise performance.
How Much Caffeine to Take
More caffeine is not better. Studies have confirmed that when you take more than a recommended dose of caffeine, there’s no added benefit for strength and endurance. In fact, it may work against you, giving you common side effects like headaches or the jitters.
First off, if you get a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep a night, you really don’t need caffeine in the morning if you’re not working out. Save it for your workout routine. Besides keeping you more mentally focused and increasing your endurance during your workout, caffeine has fat-burning capabilities, which we’ll discuss later in this article. I think the biggest mistake people do with caffeine is consuming it when they really don’t need it. If you get no sleep at night then that’s one thing. Caffeine will wake you up and help you perform tasks more efficiently. You just don’t want to suffer from any side effects so it’s important to get the proper amount of sleep per night so you don’t have to rely on a stimulant to keep you awake. Caffeine tolerance is the #1 reason people don’t get the maximum results from their coffee. If you’re going to use caffeine as a supplement, you should stop using it as a beverage. You should consume approximately 6 mg of caffeine per kilogram. This means that a 150 lb. (68 kg.) person should consume 200 mg of caffeine. For a 220 lb. person (100 kg), 300 mg of caffeine is ideal. To put this in perspective, a regular cup of coffee contains approximately 90 to 150 mg of caffeine. Therefore, one to two cups of coffee a day is sufficient without suffering any real side effects. Remember, there are many supplements out there that can have an extremely high dose of caffeine. Always check the caffeine levels before consumption! Regardless of the recommended dose, everybody reacts to things differently. Make sure to access your caffeine tolerance appropriately. You should take caffeine an hour before you exercise since it takes about an hour to reach peak blood levels.
How Will Caffeine Benefit My Workout?
We know that caffeine can boost your mental alertness and increase your endurance. As a result, you can get more out of your workout and push yourself harder. However, there’s even more to it than just that.
Caffeine can help you burn more fat during your workout. Research has shown that caffeine consumption prior to a workout can increase fat burning by as much as 30%, in addition to the amount of fat burned following physical exercise. Caffeine can enhance our body’s use of fat as a fuel source, thereby conserving glycogen. Caffeine can increase the number of fatty acids in the bloodstream, which increases the speed at which your body can convert fat to usable energy. Research has also shown that having a caffeinated drink can rebuild glycogen stores 66% more than a drink with just carbohydrates. When you workout, you deplete muscle glycogen. This primary fuel source needs to be increased after a workout to feed your muscles. Caffeine will help to replenish your lost glycogen levels, which will help build muscle and speed recovery.
Caffeine withdrawal is certainly real. It can be very addicting and extremely hard to put down that cup of joe. Not only do you like the feeling that caffeine gives you since it releases dopamine, but you also like the feeling of drinking it and the excitement it may bring. You may find yourself excited even at the thought of simply making coffee. It’s a high, just like any other drug. This is most likely due to the changes that occur with the dopamine receptors in the brain. You need to be careful. You may notice that you are consuming too much caffeine if you can’t sleep or feel overly anxious. You may also find that you can’t get through your day without that extra boost of caffeine. If this becomes a problem you need to lower your consumption or quit cold turkey.
As stated above, you should have no more than 1-2 cups of coffee a day depending on your bodyweight and tolerance levels. The most common side effect of caffeine withdrawal are headaches and sleepiness, among other things. This can be a very unpleasant experience. Luckily, these experiences may only last a week or so. If you simply love the taste of coffee, try decaffeinated coffee. About 15% of the general population report having stopped caffeine use completely, citing concern about health and unpleasant side effects.
If used appropriately, caffeine can really benefit you. Not only can caffeine help with your workout goals, but it can also help your general health. Caffeine has been shown to fight some diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, among other benefits. Caffeine can be your best friend or your worst enemy. You need to understand your own tolerance and use it appropriately.