Supplements ~ Caffeine
January 2004 Caffeine was removed from the WADA (World Anti-Doping
Agency) Prohibited list. This move is significant for many reasons
but mainly because it allows athletes whose sport is compliant with
their code to consume caffeine as part of their normal diet, or for
enhancing sporting performance, without fear of returning a positive
The sport of cycling has
signed up to that code through the UCI and Jersey has signed up to that
code through their Commonwealth Games Association. To see a full
list of the sports, associations and governing bodies signed up the
click here. One significant sporting body missing from the
list is FIFA. Draw your own conclusions!
is is it?
Caffeine is a readily available, cheap, naturally occurring
substance found in many leaves, plants and seeds. Caffeine is one of
the worlds most readily acceptable drugs. It's classed as a drug
because it has a pharmacological effect on the body. It can be
found in tea, coffee,
chocolate, cola based drinks, energy drinks, confectionery, diet
supplements, sports supplements, ergogenic aids, the list goes on.
And if you see any sweets with guarana in it, like Cadbury's Boost bars,
that's caffeine that is.
Tons of research has been
carried out on caffeine over the past 20 years and to be honest some of
it is contradictory, some of it is inconclusive and some of it
highlights specific attributes depending on who paid for the research in the first place.
Almost all of the research
says it may have an effect under certain circumstances and certain
conditions and may affect certain individuals more than others.
There are positive and negative effects and you may be more adversely
affected than positively. As with all these things, there are
always a lot of "mays" around. So, you pay your
money and take your choice.
does it do?
Caffeine "has been shown to:
mobilise fats from adipose tissue and
affect changes to muscle contractility
▼ change perceptions of effort
▼ change levels of fatigue endured
▼ stimulate release of adrenaline
▼ affect the workings of cardiac
What is known is that
caffeine allows the release of free fatty acids into the bloodstream.
As you all know, aerobic exercise derives its main energy sources from
"fat-burning". So the more fat that's available to burn the more
glycogen will be spared. The longer glycogen levels can be
maintained, the longer you can exercise before fatigue sets in.
The peak plasma level of
caffeine occurs approximately 60 minutes after consumption.
Researchers have noted up to a 100 percent increase in plasma free fatty
acids after only 60 minutes, and allowing 60 minutes for digestion is
common among research groups. So, regarding when to take it, shall
I make a recommendation or will you work it out for yourself?
Caffeine is known to improve
muscular function through the facilitation of muscle contraction.
Therefore, a smaller stimulus can cause a greater twitch tension which
allows muscles to contract with less effort. The less effort used
to power the muscles the more effort is available to use as power.
Effectiveness now becomes more efficient.
How does it
To be honest not a lot is published
in layman's terms about how caffeine does what it does. Most
sporting studies measure the performance gains and attributes of a
substance, they don't study how it does it. To understand how this
is, I'll give you an example I don't want you to follow!
If you went out and drunk 10
pints of lager you could quite easily, without any scientific training,
recognise the effects of your experiment. You might not know why
or how your balance became affected, you would just know that it had!
Again, although it's not
known how, tested athletes consistently report a lower level of exertion
for a given output of effort. Or, for the same level of exertion
they maintain a higher level of output.
How can it
Caffeine may help you as an athlete
by speeding body and brain cell's activity to a point where the
body enters a state of alertness. This increase in activity sets
off a chain reaction whereby the pituitary gland reacts by releasing
hormones that cause the adrenal gland to produce adrenaline.
As a result, bronchial tubes
dilate to increase breathing, heart rate increases, blood pressure
rises, sugar is released into the blood stream, and your body generally
prepares for action. Great if you want to excel at a power,
endurance or aggression based sport. Pretty crap if you play
snooker or chess.
Caffeine can also be used to
help "burn fat" during those new year endurance rides, when we all need
to trim ourselves down a little.
What is the
reports, studies and books use coffee as the dosage guide. For
instance, take two cups of coffee an hour before your event and watch
yourself fly. Well, it ain't that simple. I don't like
coffee, which is why, if you come to my house you'll probably get a cup
of Mellow Birds. Now that won't contain the same level of caffeine
as your average French hotel rocket fuel. And anyway, some of the
other compounds found in coffee negate the effect of the caffeine
itself. So coffee isn't always the answer.
The way to reliably take
caffeine is in pill form. That way you know exactly what you're
getting. Only moderate levels of caffeine are required to provide
beneficial results; and no evidence has ever been produced to suggest
that increased dosage leads to increased benefit.
A dosage as little as 1 to 3
mg per kilogram of body weight will provide beneficial effects. If
you do undertake caffeine supplementation start at 1mg/kg and pay
attention to any side effects and performance gains. If it works,
stay at that level. As I said earlier more isn't better.
Dosages of greater than 6mg/kg cause negative performance gains and
dosages greater than 9mg/kg may prove toxic.
Everyone is different and
everyone will react differently to the same stimulus. Always.
always, always use the minimum amount of any supplement to gain a
desired effect. Always apply the 80~20
what in it?
250 ml cup
250 ml cup
250 ml cup
250 ml cup
375 ml can
375 ml can
250 ml can
V ~ Energy Drink
375 ml can
Power Bar Caff-Gel
I be aware of?
in many ways is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Because we see, drink
and use it everyday we become unaware or blasť of its down sides.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and like most stimulants, it's addictive and
becomes less effective with time. Figuratively speaking, the dose that
gives you a lift today will not have the same effect tomorrow.
That will take two doses, then next week three, then next month four.
Higher doses of
caffeine cause nausea, stomach cramps, anxiety and can give you the
trots. So be careful. Also, the often quoted side-effect of
caffeine being a diuretic is not supported by athletic research.
Obviously proper athletes, like ourselves, have hydration strategies
that ensure adequate fluids are taken at all times. If you have a
mug of coffee, you've taken on half a pint of water with your caffeine.
If you pop a pill, make sure you drink enough fluids to support it.
Caffeine and the
compounds found in coffee and cola drinks can prevent the absorption of
many other vital minerals and vitamins the body needs. Especially
the bodies of athletes. Calcium, iron, thiamine and others are
known to be affected. And remember that can of coke that gives you
a caffeine lift also has god-knows-how many spoons of sugar in it.
As for diet stuff, that contains aspartame. Don't get me started
on that, it's a whole warning subject in itself.
Caffeine can cause the heart
to race and increase the onset of palpitations. It can also
seriously affect the sympathetic and central nervous system, causing
headaches and other reactions, like the shakes. Also, if you take
coffee to give you your sporting boost, don't put milk and sugar in it.
Milk isn't good for you before a race and you don't want an insulin rise
to compensate for your sugar spike.
Never, ever, try
caffeine or any other supplement without seeking advice and doing your
own research. And never try it out the morning of the Island
Championships. Winter training is the best time to "experiment"
then maybe for the odd early season races. And remember, the more
you use it the less effective it becomes. So don't try it for
Caffeine can help you in endurance events lasting 60 minutes or longer.
Take it an hour before the event at around 2mg/kg body weight and make
sure you've done a dry run in a non-important event beforehand. If
you drink loads of coffee then you are less likely to benefit from
caffeine supplementation. If you don't drink loads of coffee you
are more likely to suffer from the adverse effects of caffeine
As a final note,
did you notice that the pro's were openly drinking cans of coke during
this years Tour? Once the stage got past half way the cans of coke
came out. But you should also notice that they get water bottles
passed to them every ten minutes and can stop for a "comfort break"
during the race then get back on! Don't think you can put it in
your bottle and take it at the turn of a ten mile time trial.
This article is neither an endorsement or a condemnation of the subject
of this article or any other supplement use. It is here to allow
the reader to draw their own informed conclusion.
Do your research and
if any doubt consult a physician before undertaking any supplement
regimen. Never take more than the stated dose and never mix any
drug or supplement with alcohol. Always check that you are not
contravening any sporting code, ethics or permitted levels for your
sport before undertaking any supplementation.
Where can I get some?
Fast Freddie Turbo Blend ~
Freddie Rodriguez's blend
Magnus Maximus ~ Big Magnus Backstedt's
of Jersey ~ Some nice selections closer to