If you’ve been to Sports Performance lately you’ve probably seen coffee cups or energy drinks in almost everyone’s hand. Not only do we like caffeine as a way to start the day, we have used it as a way to get ready for hard workouts after work! This led us to ask how caffeine can affect your ability to exercise and whether it is a positive or negative effect. For reference, energy drinks may contain between 80-500 mg of caffeine per can, coffee may contain about 100 mg of caffeine in 8 oz, and a single shot of espresso may contain around 65 mg of caffeine.
There’s been a ton of research into the effects of caffeine on a variety of athletes and across a number of different sports. Interestingly, the results of some research studies found not everyone responds to caffeine supplementation in the same way; there are “responders” and “non-responders” to caffeine. Individuals who are “non-responders” do not feel the same energizing effect at the same dose as those who do feel it, meaning they require a much higher dose in order to see benefits. If you’ve ever downed an energy drink and felt like it did nothing, you may fall into that group. Another factor to consider is whether you are a frequent consumer already. What that means is caffeine also has a dampened effect on individuals who are used to it due to chronic consumption at high levels.
When it comes to performance-enhancing effects, caffeine may improve sports-related skill when you are in a fatigued state. This means you are more likely to see benefits when you are physically or mentally tired, such as towards the end of practice or a game. In general, caffeine ingestion will improve your alertness and attention during training or competition, with effects being felt even more if you are fatigued.
One major concern with training, especially in the summer or warmer regions, is the thermal effects of caffeine. Contrary to popular belief, caffeine ingestion (in “normal” amounts, as in below 400 mg) has not been found to have a negative effect on hydration or body temperature regulation when ingested before exercise or exposure to heat. This means it is generally considered safe to have some caffeine before training in the summer, however you should always be sure to stay properly hydrated as well.
In conclusion, caffeine ingestion may be beneficial for training and performance. It is more likely you will see benefits if you are 1) a “responder” to caffeine in general, 2) in a fatigued or sleep deprived state, and 3) not already accustomed to consuming excessive amounts of caffeine already.
As always, we hope this helps! If you have any questions or if you would like to read about certain topics, feel free to send us an email at TeamSP@SportsPerformancePT.com.
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