Caffeine and working out. I know very few people who start their day without a dose of caffeine from either coffee or tea. After all, why not? It’s an enjoyable part of our morning wake up routine and helps get us going for the day. It’s also a great excuse to spend a few minutes recharging and taking a momentary reprieve from the day in the afternoon. Caffeine, however, can be used for much more than a morning wake up or an afternoon escape.
CAFFEINE AND WORKING OUT
Where is it found? You’ll find that caffeine jolt in coffee, in tea and even in chocolate. Many sports drinks, energy gels as well as some types of gum and even pills can contain caffeine.
What does it do? If you’ve ever had some coffee before working out you might notice an increase in your heart rate and energy levels. This is because caffeine is a stimulant which helps to increase your heart rate and gives you a rush of adrenaline. In practice, what this means is that it can actually help to enhance your performance.
Caffeine works best during two types of activities: 1) strong power bursts lasting a few minutes, and 2) endurance workouts (long runs).
How to use it? Having some caffeine prior to a workout can be beneficial and has been found to help athletes by delaying muscle fatigue. Basically, your muscles store glycogen (carbohydrates) and once it’s used up, your muscles will fatigue. Caffeine can help to delay this, which means you can workout for longer. It’s also thought to reduce pain, which means that you will be able to push yourself that little bit harder. Lastly, some studies have shown that caffeine aids in circulation. Since we know that blood carries oxygen and your muscles need oxygen, the result is a better workout.
What are the side effects? Many of us will find that our bodies quickly adapt to caffeine and pretty soon, that one or two cups just won’t be enough. This is definitely a factor to consider if you are going to be incorporating caffeine into a fitness routine. The remedy is to keep your intake consistent, so that you don’t keep your system guessing. If you always have 3 cups a day, stick with that. While caffeine will not dehydrate you, keep drinking water, as it’s the healthiest choice and not an option. If you workout in the evening, it may be a good idea to skip the caffeine as it can keep you up at night. It’s best not to drink coffee or tea less than 6 hours prior to sleeping. Remember, sleep is vital to your recovery. Note that for some, a cup of coffee can be tough on the digestive system, in this case tea might be a better bet.
An interesting fact about caffeine is that it used to be banned by the IOC and other sports organizations, so you can see that its effects on your body have to be respected.
As with everything, moderation is key. Caffeine consumption certainly isn’t for everyone, so make sure you are reading labels and take the time to know what works best for your body.
Have you ever used caffeine to help increase your stamina?
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