Incredibly, the average American is more likely to have a cup of joe than a glass of water with research suggesting that 66% of the population drinks coffee every day, at an average of 3.1 cups. So it follows that we would want to know more about this very popular drink and whether or not it is good for our health. Still, if you’ve read anything about caffeine (a natural stimulant found in coffee beans), you’ll know that opinions vary wildly, with some praising it for its performance-enhancing potential, and others praising it for its performance-enhancing potential, and others complaining that caffeine causes dehydration. . Ahead of National Coffee Day on October 1.
M&F spoke with Dr. Neil Clarke, associate professor of sports science at the Center for Sport, Exercise and Life Sciences at Coventry University, Englandto filter the true from the false.
Caffeine and its relationship to performance
“Caffeine is frequently consumed by professional and amateur athletes to facilitate improved performance in a wide range of activities such as intermittent exercise like football and racquet sports like badminton. It is also used for endurance exercises like running and cycling, and resistance exercises including weightlifting,” says Clarke. recent meta-analysis reported that caffeine has a small but evident improvement in endurance when taken in moderate doses of 3-6 mg/kg body weight, as well as an increase in average power (3%) and time trial execution time (2%). ”
Additionally, in tennis and golf, caffeine ingestion has been shown to increase hitting accuracy and overall game success, likely due to improved reaction time and mental alertness. “However, the evidence for caffeine ingestion during sprint exercise is less compelling,” says Clarke. “But it still shows that sprints lasting up to 3 minutes show limited improvements with caffeine consumption. And, in events lasting around 10 seconds, it has been shown that the ingestion improves peak power, speed and strength.
Caffeine and its relation to cognition
“In addition to caffeine’s well-established ergogenic effect on exercise performance, caffeine ingestion may also improve cognitive performance, especially in those who are sleep deprived,” says Dr. Clarke. “For example, caffeine doses of 1 and 5 mg/kg body mass attenuated performance decrements during repeated rugby passing exercise in elite rugby players after sleep restriction. In virtually all capacity studies where caffeine has been used, Rated Perceived Effort scores are lighter compared to placebo groups. In sports like tennis and golf, ingestion has been demonstrated to increase typing speed and accuracy, and overall game success, possibly due to improved reaction time and mental alertness.
Caffeine and dosage
The Mayo Clinic says that daily doses of up to 400 mg appear safe for most healthy adults. That’s about 4 cups of coffee a day. However, when it comes to performance, going over 300mg per day may hurt your performance rather than help it. “Possibly due to increased muscle tremor and postural sway,” Clarke says. “Low doses of caffeine, less than 3 mg/kg caffeine body mass are ergogenic and are associated with little or no side effects, although this area has been less well studied.
“Caffeine doses above 9 mg/kg body weight do not appear to increase performance and are more likely to increase the risk of negative side effects including nausea, anxiety, insomnia and restlessness . “Therefore, the majority of caffeine research to date generally focuses on ingesting 3-8 mg/kg body weight.”
Caffeine and its relationship to fat loss
“Studies in the late 1970s reported that ingesting caffeine can increase the mobilization of fatty acids which, when released from fat tissue, are transported to muscle and eventually used as fuel,” Clarke explains.
The relationship between caffeine and fat loss is still being studied today, and a recent meta-analysis concluded that pre-exercise intake of a moderate dose of caffeine can effectively increase fat utilization during submaximal aerobic exercise when performed after a period of fasting. “For example, a pre-exercise intake of 3 mg/kg body mass increased fat utilization by approximately 19 grams per hour with placebo, up to 25 grams for the caffeine consuming group, when both groups undertook an hour of submaximal cycling,” says Dr. Clarke. “Thus, it appears that caffeine may stimulate fat oxidation when ingested before an exercise session.
“However, there are a few things to consider. It is important to note that the effects may have been increased due to the fact that this exercise is performed without breakfast, when fat oxidation is naturally higher and carbohydrates negate the effectiveness of caffeine. Additionally, the ability of caffeine to enhance fat oxidation during exercise tends to be higher in sedentary or untrained people than in trained, recreational athletes. Finally, although caffeine ingestion may increase fat oxidation, it should be clarified that weight loss will only occur in a negative energy balance where energy expended exceeds calorie intake.
Caffeine and its relationship to dehydration
A long-held belief among bro-scientists has always been that drinking coffee can have a diuretic effect, but more recent research shows this to be incorrect. “The traditional form of caffeine administration in research and sports settings was through ingesting tablets or capsules with liquid,” says Dr. Clarke. “However, there is growing evidence that caffeine given in alternative forms, such as coffee, when consumed in moderation, contributes to daily fluid requirements and does not adversely affect fluid balance, especially during exercise. So, drinking coffee can actually help maintain hydration.
Is caffeine safe?
“The European Food Safety Authority has concluded that ‘single doses of caffeine up to 200 mg’ (approximately 3 mg/kg body weight) from all sources do not raise safety concerns for the adult population general. Moderate coffee consumption can be defined as 3-5 cups a day,” says Clarke.
Drinking coffee has a wide range of benefits that can improve performance from a physical perspective. These include, but are not limited to; improved muscle endurance, movement speed and muscle strength. “Performance may also be increased due to the release of endorphins which dampen the sensation of pain and the rating of perceived exertion during exercise, thereby decreasing perceived exertion,” Clarke explains. “Additionally, factors such as improved reaction time, cognition, and mood are also likely to positively influence performance.”
A final thought to accompany your coffee
It was well documented that there is considerable variation in caffeine content both in terms of concentration and per serving of coffee,” says Clarke. “For example, the caffeine content of raw Arabica coffee is lower than that of the Robusta variety.” Then it’s possible that the ingredients added to your cup of joe are interfering with its benefits. “A final point about coffee is that the effect of milk on the bio-efficacy of caffeine is currently unknown,” says Clarke.
So when you’re looking for your next Starbucks, you might want to ditch the cream and syrup and stay in a calorie deficit to make the most of caffeine’s potential to burn fat and improve physical and cognitive performance.