How Caffeine Boosts Athletic Performance
At least 74 good scientific studies have addressed caffeine’s effects on athletic performance, in both short-term high-intensity and endurance efforts. The overwhelming majority of them demonstrate a significant boost to performance with the use of caffeine.
There are three primary ways that caffeine has been found to enhance athletic performance: 1) by prompting the body to burn more fat and fewer carbohydrates, 2) by reducing fatigue and enhancing mental focus, and 3) by increasing the strength of muscular contractions.
More Fuel for the Final Push
When we eat carbohydrates, our body breaks them down into glucose molecules. Glucose is a usable source of cellular fuel for the muscles and organs of our body.
Any glucose that our body doesn’t use immediately following a meal is converted by enzymes secreted by the liver to glycogen – which is essentially a long chain of glucose molecules (a polysaccharide) – and stored. When our body needs energy, it converts stored glycogen back into glucose so that our muscles have the fuel they need to work. This is why athletes ‘carb load’ before a competition.
Here’s were caffeine comes into the game. Caffeine enables our bodies to burn more fats and fewer carbohydrates during the initial phase of a period of exertion. As a result, it conserves glycogen for the final phases of a workout, athletic competition, or physical performance. In fact, in the first 15 minutes of exercise, caffeine can reduce glycogen utilization by up to 50%. And so by taking caffeine before an athletic performance, a significant amount of glycogen remains available for the push to the finish line.
No Bonking and Increased Alertness
Caffeine also blocks adenosine receptors in the brain. When activated, these receptors signal a sense of tiredness, so blocking them with caffeine tends to make us less tired. Caffeine also directly stimulates the central nervous system (dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenalin neural pathways) thereby increasing alertness. Both of these psychological effects of caffeine give an athlete an advantage.
Increased Muscle Strength
Finally, caffeine in an appropriate amount (about 400 mgs) has been found to increase the strength of muscular contractions. The mechanism of action of this affect appears to be caffeine’s effect on the membrane permeability of the muscle cell to calcium, sodium, and potassium. Stronger muscular contraction can give athletes the edge they need to win.
For a recent comprehensive review of studies of caffeine and
performance, we recommend “Caffeine for Sports Performance”, Burke,
Desbrow, and Spriet.
GOD’S SPEED is endorsed by some of the world’s top athletes.
Olympian, Dan Hackett, Goalie, Water Polo, says “GOD’S SPEED PURE Caffeine helps me stay alert and focused during my training sessions.”
“Note to Self: never again drive half way round Victoria BC searching for coffee before a dawn race. Keep GOD’S SPEED in the emergency kit!” Olympic and World Champion Masters Rower, Stephen Kiesling.
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