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Caffeine as a Sports Supplement Does it work?

by Georgia Ede
Published: Last Updated on

Caffeine an aid to improve athletic performance

The desire to improve performance is an attitude that does not cease in the mind of the athlete, that attitude of improvement that athletes have leads them to try to help themselves with nutritional supplements to achieve their goals. Sometimes it can be a problem, since there are substances that can harm the body if they are consumed regularly or excessively, so we must always take into account what are the effects of those supplements that we consume, both in the short and long term.

The caffeine is a substance that is widespread use of coffee, but is also found in tea, chocolate and cola. It is not a nutrient that is necessary for the body, but its consumption is very widespread throughout the world, although its regular consumption can generate dependence .

It is important to note that regular consumption of caffeine has been shown to have positive effects on the body, such as avoiding premature death, that is, it helps longevity ; as long as it is consumed in the recommended doses, which should not exceed 3 cups a day .

Caffeine in the world of sports

Caffeine has been used for some time in the sports world as an ergogenic aid to increase sports performance and energy , as well as to delay fatigue . In addition, as we already know, coffee is a stimulant so it contributes to an acceleration of the metabolism and the nervous system.

These previously described effects are achieved in the body with consumption in low doses through the main products with high caffeine content, but there is also the possibility of supplementation with a higher concentration based on pills designed for this.

How much caffeine do the main products that contain it give us?

The caffeine is the active ingredient in coffee but not only found in this drink. To give you an idea of ​​the approximate concentration of caffeine in natural products on the market, we can say that:

  • 1 Cup of Coffee = 90 – 200 mg.
  • 1 Cup of Tea = 10 – 90 mg.
  • 1 Cup of Chocolate = 10 – 40 mg.
  • 1 Cup of Mate = 25 – 150 mg.
  • 1 Glass of Cola Drink = 35 – 45 mg.
  • 1 cup of soluble coffee = 60-70 mg.

What is the ideal dose of caffeine consumption?

The dose is established according to the person’s body weight and would be equivalent to a dose that varies from 3 to 6 mg for each kilo of weight . We must bear in mind that consumption must occur at least one hour before performing physical activity . The consumption of caffeine in the form of pills is more advisable because it is dehydrated and its effect is greater. The effects of caffeine can be noticed up to 4 hours after its ingestion.

If I drink more caffeine … does my performance increase proportionally? The answer is no. Doses greater than 9 mg per kilo of weight produce opposite effects and even toxicity in the body, as well as gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, irritability, arrhythmias, problems related to blood pressure, and even hallucinations.

What do studies say about the use of caffeine in sports?

The caffeine as a supplement to the sport belongs to the group of lipotrópicos (natural substances that favor the use of fats ) and character thermogenic ( accelerating metabolism ). Therefore, caffeine, used in sports, bases its effects mainly on the activation of the Central Nervous System and on the elevation of the basal metabolic output.

Caffeine has been introduced into sports as a supplement as part of energy drinks, gels and other preparations because it has been shown to have a positive effect on the physical performance of the athlete. But the results largely depend on the type of sport that we analyze.

Among the positive effects  that caffeine produces in sports, the following can be described:

  • Increases and improves muscle contraction , muscles acquire a greater ability to contract.
  • Increases attention , concentration and mental activity.
  • Delays fatigue , due to the oxidation of fatty acids there is a saving of glycogen.
  • Helps lose weight due to increased fat metabolism .
  • It produces a bronchodilator and vasodilator effect at the peripheral level.

Depending on the type of exercise we practice and the moment in which caffeine is consumed, it has some results or others, so we can affirm that the data provided by different studies are variable.

In strength exercises, caffeine has been shown to increase muscle contraction capacity . But no improvement in endurance is clearly demonstrated.

In long-term sports, the improvement in performance is demonstrated, since the consumption of caffeine causes the fatty acids to be mobilized to be used as energy, thus increasing the energy available to the body, producing glycogen savings , which motivates a greater power in the final part of the exercise practice, therefore it is used in intense cycling, running, swimming long distances, etc.

The use of caffeine in short-term sports shows a clear improvement in performance since with the consumption of caffeine there is a release of calcium and this favors a greater muscle contraction. It also encourages better sprinting conditions , which is why it is used in sports such as cycling or swimming, which is favored in fast exits.

With regard to team sports , the consumption of caffeine states that they improve results due to greater attention and cognitive functions as well as an improvement in decision-making and muscle performance and also delays the onset of fatigue .

Caffeine for weight loss?

Caffeine is also used to lose weight because it stimulates lipolysis, that is, it has a fat burning action . It accelerates the metabolism , the one capable of stimulating energy combustion and increasing caloric expenditure and that is why it is found in most products that are used to lose weight. You can find out in depth in the following post about whether coffee is fattening , in which we offer you all the information of your interest.

It should be noted that the recommended doses are not exceeded in any case since they produce contrary and harmful effects for the body. Consumption of more than 3 cups of coffee per day is not recommended.

Side effects of caffeine

However, it must be remembered that caffeine is a psychoactive substance, it is an exciting of the Central Nervous System and therefore it can also produce unwanted effects that we must take into account:

  • It can increase blood pressure.
  • It can cause gastrointestinal disorders.
  • It can cause insomnia or anxiety.
  • It can produce psychological effects of dependency.
  • May cause diuresis dehydration.

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