Have you ever walked into a GNC store hoping to find something that will boost your energy or enhance your performance before working out? Do you find yourself scrolling through numerous products online to find “the one” product that will give you that zing, that extra power and stamina in the exercises you do?
With so many different products in the fitness industry, it can get confusing when you are trying to find the right product. Some products claim to help you burn fat or give you more endurance, yet they might not work. If you are new to everything, an ingredient you will always find is caffeine. In this blog I will be explaining the effectiveness of caffeine in overall performance and knowing how to intake caffeine safely.
Does Caffeine Actually Work?
Similarly to what coffee or tea does to increase alertness, caffeine in supplement form works as an ergogenic aid or performance enhancer for physically active individuals (***). Peeling et al., 2018 identified an improved endurance when it comes to fatigue exercises such as running on the treadmill and repetitive resistance training exercises. In this study, an overview of 33 different time trialed activities such as cycling, running, rowing, cross-country skiing, and swimming we observed and there was a performance benefit of 3.2% when intaking caffeine before and or during the endurance activity duration from 5-150 min (Peeling et al, 2018)(***).
In a double-blind study the effects of participants who consumed caffeinated pre-workout vs. non-caffeinated pre-workout vs. a placebo during 5 sets of 6 repetitions on a squat machine indicated those who consumed caffeinated and non-caffeinated showed a 4.4% and 7.9% higher than the placebo in force production of the squat machine (***). Although this study does not give a definite answer to caffeine improving peak power, it does show a positive effect in the improvement of exercise.
In the International Society of Sports Nutrition, consuming drinks containing caffeine and beta alanine(an ergogenic aid) can approve immediate and quick exercise performance and cognitive function (Martinez et al., 2016)(***). Overall caffeine in pre-workout supplements are beneficial to the athlete but can come with a risk.
Safety? How Much Is Too Much Caffeine?
Although there are benefits of intaking caffeine for overall performance, too much caffeine in your system can do more harm than good. Large doses more than 9mg/kg of body mass can increase negative side effects such as nausea, anxiousness, elevated heart rate, and restlessness (Peeling et al, 2018). The recommended amount of caffeine dosage would be 3-6 mg/kg of body mass and should be taken 30-60 minutes before exercising to allow the caffeine into the bloodstream. This will allow for improvement in maximum strength, power, and endurance when combined with other ergogenic aids (***). Further studies have been focusing on dosages less than 3mg/kg of body mass and found that the same ergogenic effect occurs (Pickering & Kierly, 2018).
For active people who want to feel an effect, it is best if their intake of caffeine before they workout is higher than the amount they usually consume, but within moderation. Since everyone reacts differently to caffeine, some people are more sensitive to others in terms of symptoms(***). The timing of the exercise and the type of exercise affects how caffeine will work as an ergogenic in your body. The recommended amount might not be optimal for everyone(***).
To conclude, caffeine can lead to an improvement in workout performance for short periods of time. Although, mores studies are needed for a definite conclusive answer. Now that you know this information, take this new knowledge with you when you are exercising! Listen to your body and know what your limit is. For more information, click on the links down below!
Kruskall, L.J. (2009). Caffeine and Exercise Performance: What’s All the Buzz About?
ACSM Health & Fitness Journal. 13(6).p.17-23. doi: 10.1249/FIT.0b013e3181bcd865
Martinez, N., Campbell, B., Franek, M., Buchanan, L., & Colquhoun, R. (2016). The effect of acute pre-workout supplementation on power and strength performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13, 29. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0138-7
Martin, A., Hamm, M., Pineda, J.G., Uribe,V., Hurtado, A., Cross, A., Palmer, Ty B, and Tinsley, G.M. (2017) "Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements on Maximal Concentric and Eccentric Force Production During Lower Body Resistance Exercise," International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: Vol. 2 : Iss. 9 , Article 52.
Peeling, P., Binnie, M. J., Goods, P..R., Sim, M., & Burke, L. M. (2018). Evidence-Based Supplements for the Enhancement of Athletic Performance, International Journal of
Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 28(2), 178-187. Retrieved Nov 17, 2019, from
Pickering, C., & Kiely, J. (2018). Are the Current Guidelines on Caffeine Use in Sport Optimal
for Everyone? Inter-individual Variation in Caffeine Ergogenicity, and a Move Towards Personalized Sports Nutrition. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 48(1), 7–16.
Ryse Up Sports Nutrition. (2019). Pre-workout [photograph]. Retrieved from https://rysesupps.com/products/pre-workout?variant=18171470839904
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