Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Java Powered Workouts!

by Kris Pitcher

No doubt there is power in that cup of java. You experience that each morning if you're a coffee drinker, or tea for that matter.  I've been thinking about this topic because caffeine is such a common ingredient in many fat burners. 

And rather than address the question of should you, or shouldn't you take a fat burner - which is a tricky question, I thought I'd address one of the most common ingredients in them. Caffeine. 

It's primary benefit as outlined in the abstract below is it allows the athlete to train at higher outputs, and for longer. The scientist suggests doping with pure caffeine vs. taking in that cup of coffee which may be why it's included in all those fancy colored pills. At least your head gets buzzing...

It's also clear there's more to learn. This is always important to keep in mind. Science is an ever evolving...well, science. The idea is that caffeine enhances fat oxidation and spares muscle glycogen. But it's just a theory. 

So, if you down a cup of joe before your am cardio, you're not alone. And researchers are working to learn more about how and why it acts as an ergogenic aid to athletes. In the meantime enjoy your java powered workouts!   

Caffeine is a common substance in the diets of most athletes and it is now appearing in many new products, including energy drinks, sport gels, alcoholic beverages and diet aids. It can be a powerful ergogenic aid at levels that are considerably lower than the acceptable limit of the International Olympic Committee and could be beneficial in training and in competition. Caffeine does not improve maximal oxygen capacity directly, but could permit the athlete to train at a greater power output and/or to train longer. It has also been shown to increase speed and/or power output in simulated race conditions. These effects have been found in activities that last as little as 60 seconds or as long as 2 hours. There is less information about the effects of caffeine on strength; however, recent work suggests no effect on maximal ability, but enhanced endurance or resistance to fatigue. There is no evidence that caffeine ingestion before exercise leads to dehydration, ion imbalance, or any other adverse effects.
The ingestion of caffeine as coffee appears to be ineffective compared to doping with pure caffeine. Related compounds such as theophylline are also potent ergogenic aids. Caffeine may act synergistically with other drugs including ephedrine and anti-inflammatory agents. It appears that male and female athletes have similar caffeine pharmacokinetics, i.e., for a given dose of caffeine, the time course and absolute plasma concentrations of caffeine and its metabolites are the same. In addition, exercise or dehydration does not affect caffeine pharmacokinetics. The limited information available suggests that caffeine non-users and users respond similarly and that withdrawal from caffeine may not be important. The mechanism(s) by which caffeine elicits its ergogenic effects are unknown, but the popular theory that it enhances fat oxidation and spares muscle glycogen has very little support and is an incomplete explanation at best. Caffeine may work, in part, by creating a more favourable intracellular ionic environment in active muscle. This could facilitate force production by each motor unit.
Keywords: Caffeine, pharmacodynamics; Caffeine, pharmacokinetics; Exercise performance
Document Type: Review article
Affiliations: 1: Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

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