Wake Up and Smell the Coffee! Caffeine Science Explained
Caffeine is a drug that has enjoyed wide spread use and social acceptance on a global scale with about 90% of adults consuming it as part of their everyday eating patterns. Caffeine has been recognized to reduce fatigue and increase wakefulness for centuries which has expanded its use amongst shift workers, truck drivers, members of the military and indeed athletes. Despite this knowledge it’s still unclear the exact mechanisms as to how caffeine exerts its ergogenic effects but there is sound evidence proving it to be a worthwhile choice for a wide range of athletes.
Improvements in sports performance range from 2-16 percent depending on the individual and indeed the sporting activity. Typically an athlete’s protocol would be an intake of 6 mg/kg 1 hour pre-exercise however more recent studies show that beneficial effects occur even at more modest levels of 1-3 mg/kg. Indeed with caffeine, more is not always better as endurance benefits have shown to be capped at an intake of 3 mg/kg.
Coffee may not be a good source of caffeine for exercise enhancement as it is difficult to know the dose of caffeine in any serving of coffee. Some studies have found that while caffeine alone was ergogenic for a given exercise task, caffeine consumed in a caffeine medium did not enhance performance of the same protocol. Coffee may contain other ingredients that counteract the benefits of caffeine. Nevertheless it appears that caffeine is ergogenic when coffee is consumed with a prerace meal.
Moreover, there is individual variability in the changes in exercise capacity in response to caffeine. Some people are non-responders to caffeine. This may be genetic but these individuals may also consistently consume high amounts of caffeine which can indeed reduce sensitivity. Higher doses of caffeine (>6–9 mg/kg) may be associated with side effects, such as jitters, increased heart rate, and performance impairment.
Caffeine usually induces only 90-120 minutes of increased alertness and is often associated with an acute “crash” state following its digestion. The nature of formulation can directly influence the rate and extent of absorption following oral administration. Indeed, our BCAA Energy formula has been stacked with a no-crash energy complex. Tiny micro-spheres disperse a rapid and time-release caffeine dose which exerts an immediate hit of energy, followed by a second wave one hour later to prevent the normal crash. Experience all the benefits of caffeine along with our amino support blend and eight electrolytes without the negative slump of energy.
Steve O'Mahony, MSc BSc
Caffeine and Sports Performance, L.M Burke Jan 2009. Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 33(6):1319-34