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Caffeine - Overused or underrated?

I scream, you scream, we all scream for caffeine? Wait, that's ice cream. Some may say caffeine tastes as good as ice cream though? Jokes, caffeine doesn't have a taste in and of itself. Things containing caffeine do taste good though. Like coffee, teas, energy drinks and colas. 

So, some may say caffeine is as good or even better than ice cream then? I personally would 100% agree. Caffeine itself doesn't contain any calories and is the most underrated supplement on the market and not often used efficiently! 

Most of the world consumes caffeine through coffee, so it must have some awesome magical powers right that make us feel that much better?

Well yes, it actually does. Whether you’re enjoying caffeine socially in certain forms or using it specifically as a performance enhancing supplement, then both situations have good health and performance benefits.

Caffeine in most cases, is a very cheap supplement and can come in many delicious tasting forms and or tasteless forms like caffeine tablets.

It is classified as a nootropic (a drug, supplement, or other substance that may improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation), because it sensitizes neurons in the brain and provides mental stimulation.

It is important to note that caffeine doesn’t actually give you energy. Caffeine contains 0 calories, but what it does is mask fatigue which will result in feeling like you have more energy.

How does it work?

There is a biochemical compound in the body called Adenosine.

The brain contains receptor sites for the adenosine molecules in which they attach to. Adenosine builds up over the course of the day as its designed to sedate and relax the body, making it more tired as the day goes on.

Increased physical activity and brain function causes more adenosine to build up, this is why you feel extremely tired after a long day of work, training, and or school.

The build-up is healthy for the body, as it works with our body’s natural circadium rhythms, designed to wind the body down later in the day which makes us tired towards the end of the day when the sun goes down. After a good night’s sleep the adenosine is restored to low levels ready to start a fresh day the next morning.

Caffeine though, when consumed, attaches itself to the Adenosine Receptors and blocks the path for adenosine molecules to attach.

So, instead of gradually getting more tired, caffeine prevents this from happening and increases your metabolic rate as the cells are no longer being told to slow down. Caffeine causes alertness and wakefulness and can influence the dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and adrenalin systems, as the ingestion of caffeine also causes the body to release adrenaline, which will temporarily gives you more energy.

How much should you take?

Now if you want the optimal dose to enhance performance you can’t just guess the amount, you need to monitor it and know at what amount personally works best for you. Studies use around 4-6mg/kg of bodyweight which in a 70kg person for example that would equate to 280mg-420mg.

Now that may seem like a lot, and it is especially when you look at an average coffee contains on average 90mg of caffeine and one no-doze contains 100mg.

The thing is each individual’s tolerance to caffeine is different and varies a lot from person to person.

Caffeine tolerance can also occur as more and more caffeine is consumed over time as the brain increases the number of adenosine receptors in reaction to caffeine consumption.

This then means that for someone to get the same response from their previous intake amount, will now require a larger dose of caffeine to get the same stimulatory effects and prevent tiredness.

Chronic intake can lead to various problems and caffeine needs to be used with respect as it can be an incredible performance enhancer but shouldn’t be over used and abused as this will end up being detrimental to both health and performance causing opposite reactions such as being tired, irritable, fatigued, and negatively have an impact on sleep.

But in optimising performance and if you are an infrequent user then start on the lower scale of around 2-3mg/kg and see how that goes for you. In terms of timing look to consume your caffeine hit around 1 hour pre-exercise for larger doses, and closer to 30 minutes pre-exercise if consuming smaller doses.

Benefits of caffeine: 

Increases performance output 

Studies have found that caffeine improves power output, endurance, and sprint performance. With power output even taken in lower doses it can increase power and with training early in the morning as many often do these days, due to our bodies natural circadian rhythm our power output is as high as later in the day and caffeine can negate these effects and provide your body with equal power output as later in the day. It improves sprint performance and repeated sprint performance like when doing a HIIT session, related to the increased power output and also resulting in increased volume in each high intensity interval resulting in better performance and gains.

Increases fat loss 

Caffeine has been shown to increase energy expenditure over the course of a day, this will relate to increased performance in training allowing you to work harder and burn more calories, and increasing general non-exercise activity thermogenesis as you will tend to be a little more active throughout a day, it also increases fat oxidation so your body’s ability to use fat more efficiently as a fuel source so being able to use it more often.

Increases mood, mental focus, and creativity

It is classified as a nootropic because it sensitizes neurons and provides mental stimulation. Acute consumption stimulates the release of both cortisol and adrenalin. Cortisol increase relates to the parasympathetic nervous system and prepares the body for the fight or flight mode response ready to react to danger or in this case ready for performance. This improves mental focus, mental clarity and creativity in the brain, as seen when someone is in a fasted state and cortisol levels are high. The release of adrenalin will also give you a temporary release of energy as well.

Lowers rate of perceived exertion

RPE is how hard you are finding a training session to be or a particular exercise. Caffeine can prolong your RPE by increasing mood and prolonging time to fatigue resulting in the ability to be able to push for longer before starting to feel the pinch of that exercise/session.

Someone please bring me a coffee!

To sum caffeine up, we believe it is an incredibly effective and important supplement to use for optimal performance. If you're not currently consuming it to enhance your training and performance, we highly recommend you do so.

Consuming it socially is also nice, I mean, who doesn’t love a good coffee!?

So, go forth and pick your caffeine dosage, whether that’s low, medium or high, each individuals response is different, and the type you prefer.

Coffee, teas, pre workout powders, energy drinks, tablets, whatever it may be, enjoy the awesome benefits of this nootropic.

Just remember, be smart with it, don’t abuse the substance and you should reap the benefits in your daily life.

If you want to learn more about how to maximise your health and performance, simply send an email to our Head Nutritionist Dominic Falla via - at Oxidate we offer online or face to face consultations as well as online and in person personalised nutrition coaching.


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Dec 22, 2023


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