Similar to creatine, caffeine is a very inexpensive, effective and safe supplement athletes use to boost performance. With the right dosage, caffeine has shown results of improved exercise performance, focus, and fat burning. It has also been shown to increase mental performance.
But like anything, it should be used in moderation. About 90% of the American population consumes caffeine on a daily basis–primarily through coffee and soda.
Today’s blog will explain how it works and the dosage you should take.
What the Research Says
Caffeine is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and later broken down in the liver. Because it is absorbed so quickly, elite athletes will supplement with caffeine within an hour before an important workout or competition. Caffeine begins to wear off four hours after consumption.
Additionally, it has varied effects on your hormones, muscles, and brain. In preparation for this blog, I found research to show positive side-effects to both physical and mental performance.
Here’s a summary of what I found:
- The nervous system. Caffeine activates areas of your brain and nervous system to improve focus and energy while reducing tiredness.
- Hormones. Caffeine increases circulating adrenaline, which is associated with increased performance.
- Fat burning. Caffeine can increase your body’s ability to burn fat via lipolysis.
- Endorphins. Beta-endorphins are enhanced when consuming caffeine, which increase feelings of wellness and the exercise “high”.
- Muscles. Caffeine improves muscle performance through activation of the central nervous system. It was unclear to me, however, exactly how this is done.
- Body temperature. Caffeine increases your body temperature, which aids in increased performance and fat burning.
- Glycogen. Caffeine may also spare muscle carb stores, resulting in improved endurance performance.
In summary, supplementing with caffeine can improve both endurance and strength performances. There has also been extensive research to show increased fat loss and cognitive performance when using caffeine.
Caffeine is a fairly safe supplement, but should be consumed with caution in individuals with heart disease, high blood pressure, and GERD. There are several things to keep in mind when supplementing with caffeine.
First, if you regularly drink coffee, energy drinks, or caffeinated soda, you will experience fewer benefits from caffeine supplements due to your elevated tolerance. If you want the full benefits to increased performance, vary your recreational use of caffeine.
Second, when supplementing with caffeine, the recommended dose should be based on body weight. Research varies around 1.4–2.7 mg per pound of body weight. This is about 200–400 mg for most people before an event.
When starting to supplement with caffeine for performance reasons, start with a low dose (about 120-150 mg) to assess your tolerance. You can then increase the dosage later if needed, but avoid very high doses. I found 4.1 mg of caffeine per pound of body weight to be associated with unpleasant side effects. It also did not show any additional performance benefits.
For best practices, save caffeine for key events or competitions to maintain sensitivity to its effects. If performance is the goal, avoid a daily supplementation.
Caffeine is one of the most effective exercise supplements available. It’s also very cheap and relatively safe to use.
Studies have shown that caffeine can benefit endurance performance, high intensity exercise, and power sports. However, it seems to benefit trained athletes more than the untrained.
The recommended dose varies by body weight, but it’s typically about 200–400 mg, taken less than an hour before a crucial workout or competition.