How does caffeine affect athletic performance?

How does caffeine affect athletic performance

The caffeine is a natural substance found in many foods in the diet of an athlete. Its stimulating action is proven and there are numerous studies that confirm that caffeine affects sports performance.

How does caffeine affect athletic performance

It is an alkaloid that is part of the composition of many plants (leaves), seeds or fruits. We ingest caffeine when having a cup of coffee, but we can also find it in isotonic drinks, in cola drinks, in tea, in cocoa or in some nutritional supplements for athletes.

In principle, any stimulating substance, taken in moderation, can be a good help when it comes to physical or mental activity. Nutrition specialists consider caffeine an ergogenic aid, that is, a substance that can contribute to improving athletic performance by causing different beneficial metabolic reactions when it comes to achieving the goal set.

Benefits of caffeine for athletic performance

When we eat a food that contains caffeine, it takes the body between 30 and 60 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 when carrying out the 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 which are:

  • It acts on the central nervous system increasing brain activity and delaying the feeling of tiredness or fatigue.
  • Thermo genic 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. When doing intense physical activity, these fats are “available” as a source of energy. The consequence is that the muscles that take part in the exercise, “pull” the fats reducing their glycogen needs.
  • Improved muscle contraction. The caffeine improves athletic performance not only in aerobic activities. It is also useful in any strength training, because it must not be forgotten that the muscles move following orders from the brain and caffeine directly affects the central nervous system.
  • Vasodilator properties. This alkaloid increases blood flow causing more oxygen and nutrients to reach the different muscle groups that are in full swing.
  • Increased tolerance to the effort involved in the sport. Caffeine can help you cope with an intense physical test, such as a long run. Its stimulating effects will act in a double sense:
  • Positive attitude, more vitality, spirits “up”.
  • Greater resistance to an activity that requires effort for a long time. Less tiredness.

What is the recommended dose of caffeine to improve in sports?

Caffeine can increase sports performance but like any other stimulant substance, it should be taken in moderation within the daily diet to avoid causing unwanted effects. Between 1 and 2 mg. For each kilo of weight is the recommended amount of caffeine so that this substance is beneficial and does not affect the body in a harmful way. This is an approximate figure, because each person (and each athlete) has their own rate of assimilation of caffeine.

It is very important to take into account individual physical characteristics. People with liver ailments, heart problems or hypertension should always monitor their caffeine intake and, if necessary, consult their doctor about the appropriate amounts to ingest.

If there are no health problems, a moderate intake of caffeine brings benefits to physical activity. While it is true that there are other natural ways to stay awake without caffeine, aerobic exercises improve endurance; in those who require a great effort in a short period of time (anaerobic) it contributes to reducing times overcoming marks and in strength training, it is a good ally when it comes to minimizing muscle fatigue.


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