Category Archives: Caffeine

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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