Caffeine for Sports Performance

Caffeine for Sports Performance

For athletes, caffeine is a proven performance enhancer. In their new book Caffeine for Sports Performance, sports dietitians Louise Burke and Ben Desbrow and exercise physiologist Lawrence Spriet address all-things-caffeine that an athlete might want to know. Here are just a few tidbits that I gleaned from this comprehensive resource. Perhaps the information will help you add a little bit of zip to your workouts.

Note: No amount of caffeine will compensate for a lousy diet. If you choose to use caffeinated products to enhance your sports performance, make sure you are also fueling wisely!

• A cup of pre-exercise coffee can help most athletes work harder—without realizing it. Caffeine has been shown to enhance performance by about 1% to 3%, particularly in endurance sports. For example, cyclists who consumed caffeine prior to a 24-mile (40-km) time-trial generated 3.5% more power than when they did the ride without caffeine.

• Athletes vary in their responsiveness to caffeine, from highly effective to negative. Some of the side effects associated with too much caffeine include higher heart rate, anxiety, “coffee stomach”, irritability, and insomnia.

• The recommended performance-enhancing dose of caffeine is about 1.5 mg/lb (3 mg/kg) body weight. This can be consumed 1 hour before the event, and/or during the event (such as a caffeinated gel or defizzed cola every hour). For example, triathletes commonly consume caffeinated gels before each segment, to distribute the caffeine throughout the event rather than have a big pre-race jolt that might make them feel shaky and unable to concentrate. Some athletes delay caffeine intake until fatigue starts to appear, and then they ingest 0.5-1 mg/lb (1-2 mg/kg) body weight.

• Caffeine’s ergogenic effect maxes out at about 200 to 250 mg caffeine. (This is much less than previously recommended.) More is not better.  Experiment during training to learn what amount (if any) works best for your body!

 

For more information:

Food Guide for Marathoners; Tips for Everyday Champions

Written by Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD is an internationally respected sports nutritionist, weight coach, nutrition author, and workshop leader. She is a registered dietitian (RD) who is a board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She is also a certified WellCoach. Nancy specializes in nutrition for performance, life-long health, and the nutritional management of eating disorders. She counsels both casual exercisers and competitive athletes in her private practice in the Boston area (Newton, MA). Some of her clients consider her to be their food coach, others their food therapist. Regardless, she enjoys the challenge of helping sports-active people transform their suboptimal eating habits into effective fueling plans. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, a best-selling resource, has sold over 550,000 copies and is now in it's new fifth edition.
Website: http://www.nancyclarkrd.com


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