The science of pre-workout and post-workout nutrition has rapidly expanded our knowledge about fueling our bodies in recent years. We know about a lot more than just simple carb-loading these days, and we’re becoming more and more familiar with what different nutrients can do for us.
Caffeine has long been known as a substance that can increase our energy and mental focus, but it turns out that it’s good to use before and after your workout, too! If you’re curious about how caffeine intake can improve your workouts, read on!
What Does Caffeine Do?
Most people know that caffeine gives you an energy boost, but that’s usually within the context of a morning cup of joe. But we don’t just need energy in the morning— for people who like working out, an energy boost can be super helpful throughout the day. But is caffeine good for workouts? Yes!
Caffeine is an ergogenic aid, which means that it can enhance physical performance, stamina, or recovery. It does this because it can block different receptors in the brain, specifically the A1 and A2A receptors. By blocking the A1 receptor, the stimulant can stave off sleepiness and increase endurance. By blocking the A2A receptor, caffeine can raise the brain’s levels of dopamine and adrenaline, which increases focus and improves your ability to exercise for a longer time.
By taking a caffeine supplement for workouts, you can also improve your workout recovery. Caffeine can help with muscle recovery if you take it after your workout along with some carbs. This combination increases the speed of glucose transfer from blood to your muscles, which improves recovery time and replenishes your glucose stores in just a few hours.
Additionally, caffeine improves your focus. While most people who drink coffee in the morning know that it can give you some mental clarity and a stamina boost, the same is true during exercise as well! All said and told, caffeine is a valuable tool for improving your exercise performance.
How Much Caffeine To Use?
The FDA recommends that healthy adults should not consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. An 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine, while an 8-ounce can of energy drink can range from 50 to 160 milligrams of caffeine. Research has shown that a dose of 5 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight is effective for improving exercise performance, so long as you stay below that 400 milligram boundary.
One kilogram is equivalent to 2.2 pounds. This means that a person who weighs 120 pounds weighs 54.4 kilograms, and that their optimal pre-workout caffeine dose is 272 milligrams of caffeine.
How To Take Caffeine
Most people are familiar with caffeine as it is found in coffee and tea. Caffeine from coffee works just like the caffeine in pre-workout nutrition; research suggests that both caffeine and caffeinated coffee are similarly effective at improving exercise performance. This means that if you like coffee, you can drink it before a workout for the energy boost and be satisfied that you’re getting the same benefits as any other caffeine source.
But if you don’t like coffee, there’s numerous other ways to consume caffeine. No one way is necessarily any better than another for taking caffeine, so pick a system that works for you!
Energy drinks (caffeinated beverages other than coffee) are marketed at both athletes and wider audiences. Energy drinks are known for high caffeine content, sometimes far more than a comparable amount of coffee. Some energy drinks have other supplements, like guarana, to boost the energizing effects of these drinks.
Caffeine gummies are a newer product that have become popular because they are one of the easiest doses of caffeine to measure. Gummies are homogenous, meaning that the caffeine is evenly distributed throughout the gummy. This means that if you want to take half a dose, it’s very easy to figure out how much you need to eat. Gummies are small and compact, and that makes them easy to consume.
Energy gels were originally designed for long-distance runners. These gels don’t always have caffeine, and contain electrolytes, carbohydrates, and other nutrients to replenish a runner’s glycogen stores. Caffeinated energy gels can help your body use fat as fuel, rather than just drawing from your body’s carbohydrate stores.
Caffeine For Overall Health
In addition to performance boosts during exercise, caffeine has numerous other benefits that can improve your overall health. Caffeine may reduce the risk of colon cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and numerous other conditions. Your morning coffee might not just wake you up; it might help keep you in good health, too. Research has shown that this pick-me-up is more than just a stimulant— it’s a powerful protector and has lots of helpful uses for the human body.