Caffeine – Yay or Nay?

I was in 8th grade when I decided to give up cokes (soda, pop, etc.).  I’m not sure why I really did it to be honest.  I’m guessing it was to be healthier, but it could have been a way to pocket a few extra bucks when my parents dropped my friends and I off at Chili’s after an early release at school.  (Ah, the freedom we kids had “back in the day.”)

 

I was never really into coffee.  I always heard about those people who  couldn’t function without their morning coffee.  I always thought that was weird.  I guess they think going to bed before 10 pm and jumping up ready to face the world at 6 am is weird.  To each their own.  In college, wondering what all the rage was, I tried to teach myself to like it (I also taught myself to like beer and that seemed to go over better).  All it did was give me the jitters and make my heart beat fast.  Plus I had to remember to put the coffee on, and it was messing up my normal morning routine.  What was the point? 

I have though always liked tea.  English breakfast tea with milk and sugar.  Now that is something I could get into.  I didn’t drink it often, but I remember growing up seeing my mom have tea and toast for an evening snack.  (Isn’t it funny how much we mimic our parents?  Mine never were big coffee drinkers growing up, so maybe that is why I was never really into it.  Okay scratch that.  Mine weren’t big drinkers either, and I did too much of that in college).  Again, I never really got into tea much, but I did enjoy it ever so often.  As an adult, I switched over to drinking Chai which I later realized was causing my heart to feel like it was beating out of my chest.  I later switched to Roobis tea that was caffeine free and have been drinking that randomly in the cold months. 

It’s been nearly 15 years, and I still don’t have any caffeine in my life. 

And this is when it hit me. 

I was pumping gas, annoyed because it was cold and and windy out, and the gas pump didn’t have the lock feature so I could go back into my car and jam out.  Instead I was forced to hold the pump down.  There was a television screen though broadcasting Extra or Entertainment Tonight or some other equally mind-numbing, yet I somehow get sucked into watching you, program on.  There were also news flashes along the bottom of the screen.  You know really important statistics like – 92% of New Year’s resolutions won’t be kept. 

But this one caught my eye! 

Those who drink caffeine have a 16% higher resting metabolic rate than those that don’t.

When I got home I goggled my findings and tried to find a reliable source that could back this claim up.  All the sites I found seemed  to be a little on the fad-diet side for my liking, but none the less I found good evidence that indicated a little caffeine in my life can do me good. 

Not to mention, some athletes swear by coffee,caffeinated drinks, shakes, chewies, or gus as a way to not only boost brain power, but boost leg power as well. 


Yellow jersey Cyril Dessel with a pre-race espresso. Source  


Caffeinated Black Currant Power Gel (barf!)  Source


Caffeinated Jelly Beans Source

This information from Rice University suggests that

  1. Caffeine does not appear to benefit short term, high intensity exercise (eg. sprinting)
  2. Caffeine can enhance performance in endurance sports. green tean

It’s been freezing out (I’m allowed to say that since it technically is – dipping below 32°), so a warm beverage has been nice – especially since I drink my morning smoothie and feel like I’m in an igloo afterwards.  I’ve been drinking a caffeinated tea in the morning and early afternoons. 

It could be a placebo effect, but I’ve been feeling like I’m getting my game back.  I’ve had a four two-a-days and other solid workouts this week and they have all felt solid.  My swims have felt effortless and fast again, my running has felt back to where it should be, and my biking no longer feels like my legs want to burn off my body. 

Could it be the caffeinated tea I’ve been drinking this week?  Doubt it, but hey!  Whatever works (legally of course) to make my game feel on! 

Here are some recommendations for athletes in regards to caffeine from Rice (there information seemed good enough to share again!):

Recommendations for athletes

If you choose to use caffeine, then here are a few tips that may help you maximize the benefits.

  1. Ingest caffeine about 3 – 4 hours before the competition. Although blood levels of caffeine peak much sooner, the maximum caffeine effect on fat stores appears to occur several hours after peak blood levels.
  2. Consider decreasing or abstaining from caffeine for 3 – 4 days prior to competition. This allows for tolerance to caffeine to decrease and helps ensure a maximum effect of caffeine. Be careful though, because some may experience caffeine withdrawal.
  3. Make sure that you have used caffeine extensively under a variety of training conditions and are thoroughly familiar with how your body reacts to this drug. Never try anything new on race day.
  4. Be prepared to accept the consequences if your urine test is above the current cutoff.

So, what do you think?  Does caffeine really help your game?  Or does it merely help you pry your eyes open in the morning before work? 

Be well,
Carolyn

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5 Comments

Filed under Caffeine

5 responses to “Caffeine – Yay or Nay?

  1. lifeisbeachykeen

    Interesting. I am trying super hard to quit drinking Dr. Pepper. I haven’t had any this week. Is that why my runs suck, well, I haven’t run, but maybe it’s bc I don’t have that jolt of Dr. Pepper to get me out the door.

    I doubt it. I still drink coffee..which is keeping me up at night. lame.

    Glad to hear you are feeling good, and your work outs are satifactory. I wish I could say the same.

    Happy Weekend!

  2. I drink espresso most mornings at home if my husb makes it, but don’t like regular coffee. Gave up soda in 02 I think as a NY resolution (finished a crown & coke at 11:55, then ordered another one a year and 10 mins later), and I now drink soda occasionally, like less than a can per week, but only caffeine-free. And I’ll do tea at my folks’ house if my mom makes it. But I’ll sometimes eat the sport beans or gu with caffeine. Anyway, seems like lots of runners like coffee for some bathroom effects but I’ve actually never tried espresso before running.

  3. I think a large part of why I enjoy a cup of coffee in the AM is because of the warmth and taste factor moreso than the caffeine factor! I can’t have more than a cup in the morning, and if I go without I don’t notice too much of a difference. I do switch to tea after my first cup if I want something hot, though 🙂
    Caffeine, I think, is one of those funny things that walks the fine line between being beneficial and being bad for you. You can easily go overboard and do more harm than good, but limit yourself and it’s actually shown some health benefits.

  4. Ed

    I have stopped and restarted my coffee habit at least 100 times. I love the smell and taste of a good dark roast! 1-3 cups a day. No soda!

    There is enough conflicting studies pro/con…

    Everything in moderation!

  5. I like to have one coffee in the morning. I’m not ruined without it, but I do enjoy it and it does help kickstart me up without any negative residual effects afterwards (I don’t have enough to ‘crash’, per se). But that’s keeping it at the one coffee. Before beginning a race, I like to have one small black coffee about an hour/hour and a half before starting and I find it helps settle my nerves as well as acts as a little boost at the beginning. Besides the caffeine in the Gu gels I carry when I run, and whatnot (I never drink soda pop anymore), I don’t really have any more caffeine than my current one a day habit. To each their own.

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