How does caffeine affect sports performance?
Caffeine is a natural substance present in many foods included in an athlete’s diet. Its stimulating action is proven and there are many studies confirming that caffeine affects sports performance.
It is an alkaloid which is an integral part of the composition of many plants (leaves), seeds or fruits. We drink caffeine when we have a cup of coffee, but we can also locate it in isotonic drinks, in cola soft drinks, in tea, in cocoa or in certain nutritional supplements for athletes.
In principle, any stimulating substance, taken in moderation, can be a good help when carrying out a physical or mental activity. Food experts consider caffeine to be an ergogenic aid, that is, a substance that can help sports performance thrive by causing different metabolic reactions advantageous at the time of achieving the stated purpose.
Benefits of caffeine for sports performance
When we take a food containing caffeine, the body takes between thirty and sixty minutes to metabolize it. A coffee or a cola, a while before training, provide a small dose of this stimulant that could become a good ally at the time of exercise. The effects of caffeine on sports performance are based on the properties of this substance and the different responses it causes in the body, among those that stand out:
- It acts in the central restless system increasing the cerebral activity and managing to delay the sensation of tiredness or fatigue.
- Thermogenic effect and increased lipolysis. The presence of caffeine implies a greater “burning” of fats. Its intake accelerates the basal metabolism and contributes to the mobilization of fats. At the time of intense physical activity, these fats are “available” as a source of energy. The consequence is that the muscles that intervene in the exercise, “pull” the fats reducing their needs of glycogen.
- Improved muscle contraction. Caffeine improves sports performance not only in aerobic activities. It is also useful in any strength training, for the fact that its should not be forgotten that the muscles move following orders of the brain and caffeine directly affects the nervous system.
- Vasodilator properties. This alkaloid increases blood flow by allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach the different muscle groups that are at work.
- Greater tolerance for the effort involved in sport. Caffeine can assist in facing an intense physical test, for example a long career. Its stimulating effects will act in a double sense:
- Positive attitude, more vitality, spirits up.
- Greater resistance in front of an activity that demands care for a prolonged time. Less fatigue.
What is the recommended dose of caffeine to progress in sport?
Caffeine can enhance sports performance more like any other stimulant substance, should be taken in moderation in daily nutrition to avoid undesirable effects. Between 1 and 2 mg per kilogram of weight is the recommended amount of caffeine so that this substance is advantageous and does not affect the body in a harmful way. This is an approximate amount, as each person (and each athlete) has their own rate of caffeine assimilation.
It is essential to take account of individual physical peculiarities. People with liver disease, heart problems or hypertension should always and at all times observe the intake of caffeine and, if necessary, consult the doctor about the appropriate amounts to take.
If there are no medical problems, a moderate intake of caffeine brings benefits to physical exercise. Although it is true that there are other natural ways to hold clear without caffeine, in aerobic exercises improves endurance, in those that require a great deal of care in a short period of time (anaerobic) helps to reduce times overcoming marks and in strength training, is a good ally when it comes to minimizing muscle fatigue.