Does caffeine help exercise?

Caffeine is the best known, cheapest and most accessible substance for improving physical and mental performance. Almost all of us consume some amount of caffeine on a daily basis. This substance is mainly found in coffee, but also in well-known drinks such as cola and in products such as chocolate.

Although the consumption of caffeine that we usually do does not affect the time of doing sports, the use of this substance in a strategic way can significantly improve performance. The amount of caffeine theoretically needed to increase athletic performance is equivalent to several cups of coffee. Because it is an everyday consumer product, it is not considered a doping substance.

A single dose of caffeine can dramatically improve overall sports performance, increase focus, and help burn fat. In this article we explain the effects of caffeine and how it can help us exercise.

    How does caffeine affect our body?

    Caffeine consumption produces immediate effects on the body. These changes in the body begin to be noticed between 5 and 30 minutes after taking and include an increase in heart rate and breathing, which is accompanied by greater mental acuity and a feeling of physical vigor.

    Caffeine quickly enters the bloodstream and the highest levels can be detected between 30 minutes and two hours after consumption. After 3 to 4 hours, caffeine levels in the blood begin to decrease.

    Unlike most sports substances and supplements, caffeine affects nearly every cell in the body, it is also a known antagonist of a nucleotide neurotransmitter. Most cells in our body have receptors for caffeine or the products it stimulates, including nerve, muscle and fat tissue cells. Cells essential for the proper functioning of the metabolism during sports practice.

    Due to its ubiquity, caffeine can produce different effects on the body, including the following.

    1. The nervous system

    By activating sections of the brain and nervous system, caffeine reduces fatigue and improves concentration. Caffeine increases epinephrine, known as adrenaline (an activating neurotransmitter), which activates the body’s fight or flight mechanisms: it increases heart rate, opens the airways and stimulates energy production. In short, it prepares our body to perform.

      2. Fats

      Caffeine increases the capacity of our body to break down stored triglycerides in fat cells by lipolysis.

      3. Endorphins

      Caffeine has an antidepressant effect because it generates a type of endorphins, beta-endorphins. After exercise, many people experience an endorphin high. These endorphins are released by the body and cause a positive mental state.

        4. Muscles

        The exact mechanisms of how caffeine improves muscle performance are unclear, but it is thought to activate the central nervous system. East controls and coordinates muscles allowing for greater activation.

        5. Temperature

        Caffeine increases heat production through thermogenesis. This increases body temperature and can help burn more calories.

        6. Glycogen Recovery

        Glycogen synthesis after exercise is, without a doubt, the main variable in the athlete’s recovery, it also represents one of the limiting factors of performance in long-distance sports. Caffeine increases fat burning, which can help improve glycogen recovery. In addition, the intake of caffeine with carbohydrates after the practice of intense exercise allows better recovery of muscle glycogen.

          How does caffeine improve athletic performance?

          As we have seen, caffeine produces a series of effects that can improve sports performance: it increases concentration and awareness and reduces fatigue. Caffeine supplements have been shown to increase the distance runners and cyclists can cover before exhaustion. It is estimated that the increase in performance in athletes can reach a quarter. This includes professional and casual athletes.

          Caffeine has been shown to be beneficial for both long-term resistance activities, as it helps recover glycogen; as with explosive and high-intensity efforts, which also benefit from muscle stimulation and nervous system activation. These activities include sprints, cycle races, marathons, among many other activities.

          Next, we detail how caffeine specifically improves performance in different types of sports.

          1. Caffeine and endurance sports

          To improve their performance during exercise, many athletes consume caffeine supplements, high resistance athletes who ingest caffeine or coffee see a considerable increase in their capacities: regular consumption of these substances can significantly improve endurance sports performance.

          Caffeinated coffee and caffeine produce similar benefits during prolonged physical activity. This is due to the naturally high levels of caffeine in coffee.

          Caffeine improves endurance performance depending on how it is metabolized. Certain genetic variations can affect this process, and some research suggests that this may determine the improvement brought about by caffeine.

          Various studies support that caffeine consumption improves the performance of all athletes. A study of professional athletes measured the time in which they completed a time trial. The athletes received different amounts of caffeine: a placebo, 2 or 4 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. Then they repeated the same test.

          The study showed that increasing caffeine intake improved performance for all athletes. However, specific genetic variation increased resistance. This is because carriers of the mutation experience greater benefits when consuming higher doses.

            2. Caffeine and high intensity sports

            Caffeine provides benefits to athletes trained in high intensity sports such as swimming and cycling. good, high-intensity exercises require a large amount of caffeine.

            Some studies show conflicting results on the effects of caffeine in high intensity exercise. Beginners and untrained people benefit less from caffeine than trained athletes.

            According to a study with good results, participants felt less tired and could cycle a longer distance, after consuming a dose of 4 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weightI. This equals approximately 4 cups of coffee or 10 cans of cola.

            Another study found that people who did not train or play sports regularly did not perform better in sprint races when doses of up to 300 mg of caffeine were provided.

            3. Caffeine and bodybuilding

            There are conflicting studies on the effect of caffeine on strength and power exercise performance. While some results indicate that caffeine helps performance, others show no improvement in sports practice. Research on the use of caffeine is still ongoing: the effects of caffeine on strength sports are still unconfirmed.

            Multiple studies have shown the positive effects of caffeine consumption based on evidence. By For example, one study observed 12 participants lift weights after taking a placebo or a small amount of caffeine. The results will show that participants were able to lift more weight after taking caffeine compared to a placebo.

            However, a study to determine whether the muscle strength of regular coffee drinkers increased when they consumed a high dose of caffeine found no significant difference between participants who ingested caffeine and those who took caffeine. placebo

            In conclusion, more research is needed to show that caffeine has a positive impact on the performance of strength-related sports activities. However, evidence suggests that consuming caffeine may be helpful.

            4. Caffeine and Fat Loss

            Weight loss supplements often contain caffeine as an ingredient. Caffeine helps release stored fat before and after a workout. The effect of caffeine refers to its ability to cause adipocytes (fat cells) to break down fat, increase internal body heat and oxidative capacity.

            According to studies, drinking caffeine before exercising can significantly increase the release of stored fat in the body. This effect is particularly important in untrained or sedentary people. However, caffeine alone does not appear to cause significant weight loss, based on available evidence.

            Bibliographic references

            • Sagon C. (nd). Caffeine for your health — too good to be true?
            • Sheps SG. (2014). How does caffeine affect blood pressure?
            • Temple JL, et al. (2017). The safety of ingested caffeine: a comprehensive review.

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