Caffeine is probably the most widely used ergogenic aid of all times. It has made many fortunes. Imagine the World without caffeine? A U.S. based prohibition on caffeine like they did on alcohol in the thirties? Organized crime would even get stronger, for sure! Here is what you should know about the latest findings on caffeine:
1. Its positive effects on sports performance mainly come from enhanced mood, reduced perception of pain, and adenosine antagonism.
2. For best results, capsules work better than tablets, and the optimal time is 45 to 60 minutes before exercise. Using a mixture of 2 ounces of club soda with two ounces of grapefruit juice to swallow them will increase the speed and the magnitude of coffee concentration in the blood stream.
3. For endurance improvement, only 1.3 to 2 mg/kg seems to be enough to increase performance, probably due to increased fatty acid metabolism and glycogen sparing.
4. For strength training, best results are seen once the 7 mg/kg threshold is reached, with 10 mg/kg being the upper limit where no further additional gains are seen. Elite athletes tend to respond better to caffeine than weekend warriors. Using coffee as your sole source of caffeine pre-workout would require an enormous amount of coffee. As in 6-9 cups for a 90 kg lifter. Capsules remain the best option.
5. Caffeine eliciting dehydration is a myth. Research studies show no greater change in urine loss or fluid when compared to a placebo.
6. Even though caffeine raises blood pressure short term, caffeine and hypertension are not related in long term studies.
7. The polyphenols in coffee improve insulin sensitivity, but caffeine in large amounts may negatively alter insulin sensitivity, but the jury is not out yet on whether caffeine use in athletes increases diabetes risk.