What Does Caffeine Do To Your Body?
Caffeine as we all know, is the wonder chemical, the magic substance that keeps us all awake and functioning like normal human beings. Many people literally cannot start their day without an energy drink, and many more would fall asleep halfway through. That’s why it can be found in almost anything from sugary drinks & soda, to caffeine, water, and pill form.
The chemical itself evolved within plants as a way of protecting themselves from herbivores and competition by preventing the germination of neary seeds. In humans the chemical, put simply, gives us more energy and keeps us awake. How it does this is fairly complicated but at its core it blocks adenosine and its receptors from making us drowsy.
Adenosine is a chemical in our brain that builds up throughout the day and tells us when it is time to sleep. High focus activities such as schoolwork will increase the buildup of adenosine, which is why these things make us tired. It is because of this function that caffeine is actually more effective in the afternoon than in the morning for most adults because that is when we are at our lowest energy-wise. People use caffeine to help them with anything that requires focus and energy from socializing to gaming or schoolwork. Yet not everyone is all that sure on how it should be used when they’re doing physical activity.
What Does It Do When You’re Exercising?
Obviously feeling more awake will help us workout, but what else can it do? Is it possible that caffeine is doing things to our bodies that we don’t even know about? Testing is always being done on the wonder drug, and every year we get closer to knowing exactly what caffeine can do for us and how. Until that point the best we can do is show you some of the findings and theories how it might help you workout.
What your body needs and wants may be completely different from what these studies have shown us. So you should always consult a medical professional before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle.
While caffeine will not produce more oxygen for us it can help us with aerobic and anaerobic exercises. It does this by delaying muscle fatigue and can also speed up the breakdown of fat cells. Also, general performance in these areas reportedly goes up by 10% across the board.
It has been shown to allow us to train harder and for longer periods of time, and increases our speed and power input during race conditions. Though at the time of this posting there is not enough evidence to know what it can do for strength training.
How Do Athletes Use Caffeine?
Since this single, easy to acquire and legal substance, can improve performance across the board, you would be right to assume that a majority of athletes utilize it. A survey from 2015 found that a full 76% of athletes across all sports consumed caffeine. Which maybe in itself is enough to assume that it is doing something good. And it doesn’t seem to be too time sensitive either as it can improve performance from anywhere between 20 minutes to 2 hours.
The results are by no means drastic enough to make it necessary for your peak performance, though it has been labeled as a controlled substance by the NCAA and WADA. This limits its use in sports such as MMA which has strict guidelines for substance use all around. Still, this would suggest that it creates enough of a difference to make it unfair in large quantities. Contracted fighters in the UFC have said that the amount of caffeine you can have in your body is equal to one cup of coffee. How true and necessary these precautions are, are not for this post to say, but it is interesting to note anyways.
When Should You Take It?
Again there is no exact science to this so the best we can give you is a rough estimate. The best time to consume caffeine for a workout seems to be right before you start. As it is a fast acting substance this will let you exercise while using caffeine to its fullest effect. Since it can last up to 2 hours this could mean that you need to time it properly around your workout such as taking it early. In some cases though this can leave you feeling anxious and itchy as you wait to hit the gym.
This is an area where you could be doing some trial and error on your own. Try changing up when you consume caffeine throughout the day in relation to your workouts. The minute changes will be hard to judge, but you should be able to get an overall feel of how it changes up your routine. Though, always be sure that you are taking steps to protect your own health and take the advice of your doctor when combining any substance with exercise.
Does It Matter How You Consume Caffeine?
This is an easy one because it is pretty easy to measure how you consume your caffeine. The only things that change are how long it takes for your body to break down whatever you have drank/eaten, the caffeine levels, and whatever else is in there (sugar etc.).
For the sake of a simple workout you could have pretty much whatever you want, maybe caffeinated water like Perk2O or a generic energy drink. With some of these products what you will really be watching out for are any added chemicals that may be harmful to you in the long run. This is more often the case with sugary energy drinks designed to keep gamers awake and focused on small screens for 8+ hours. Which may not be what you want in your body while trying to get healthy. Pre-workout as well is controversial in its effectiveness so be wary and do your research when trying anything out.