Ask Annabel…. Does coffee impact on your physical performance?

A surprising statistic is that the average Australian consumes 14 cups of coffee every week, that’s over 3 billion dollars on coffee every year.

We often hear the news come about and say that “Researchers have found that people who drink two and a half cups of coffee daily have a 17% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.” But how true are these statements?  Today, Annabel and the Longevity Exercise Physiology teams at Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwick, PymbleBalmain and Neutral Bay discuss the positive and negative consequences that drinking caffeine can pose to your physical performance.

Caffeine is naturally found in leaves, nuts, and seeds of plants. It is often seen as socially acceptable which means you find many athletes and the public consuming caffeine regularly over the day in varying amounts. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cold, energy drinks and supplements. Drinking caffeine is becoming increasingly popular in the sporting world to increase performance. Caffeine affects the central nervous system which results from the reduced perception of exercise and/or reduced perception of fatigue. Caffeine can also help keep you awake, increase alertness, improve your concentration, enhance cognitive performance, and sharpen short-term memory and problem-solving skills (Martins, Guilherme, Ferreira, de Souza-Junior & Lancha, 2020).

 

“The Average Australian consumes 14 cups of coffee every week, that’s over 3 billion dollars on coffee every year”

 

Does caffeine help physical performance? At this current time, it is one of the most studied supplements in the world. Some studies correlate its use to increased exercise performance in endurance activities and can pose some benefits for both intermittent and strength-based activities. The main outcome of this study identified that the positive and negative

effects from caffeine may be influenced by factors related to caffeine effects, daily habits, physiological factors, and genetic factors. It is also previously believed that caffeine increases fat use when exercising and spears glycogen, but this has since been considered unlikely to enhance performance dramatically.

For the average person, improvements will likely be between about 2% and 6% in performance. Another study identified that when focusing on maximal oxygen capacity – which is the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can use during a bout of intense exercise – caffeine did not impact this capacity. The researchers were able to identify those athletes who consumed caffeine prior to their training were able to train at longer length. Caffeine also shows to increase speed and power output in simulated race conditions. In terms of strength, there has been no effect on maximal ability, but enhanced endurance or resistance to fatigue (“Caffeine – Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA)”, 2022).

 

“For the average person, improvements will likely be between about 2% and 6% in performance”

 

With all this being said, it is critical that we understand that although exercise may improve performance by 2-6%, having too much can have larger detrimental effects. While small amounts of caffeine can benefit performance, taking too much can lead to side effects like insomnia, headaches, and muscle twitching (“Caffeine – Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA)”, 2022). This amount is very individual, what might be fine for someone might be too much for someone else. Most of the studies concluded caffeine is most beneficial when taken 45 to 90 minutes before exercise. It is important to understand how your body reacts to this stimulant and the portions that you should be drinking each day, pending your individual circumstances (Grgic et al., 2019).

 

If you want to find out the best individualised exercise program to assist with your training give Longevity Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Pymble, Marrickville, Randwick, Drummoyne, Balmain, Bella Vista, and Neutral Bay a call on 1300 964 002 to book in a session today!

 

Written by Annabel Bergman

References:

Martins, G., Guilherme, J., Ferreira, L., de Souza-Junior, T., & Lancha, A. (2020). Caffeine and Exercise Performance: Possible Directions for Definitive Findings. Frontiers In Sports And Active Living2. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2020.574854

Grgic, J., Schoenfeld, B., Pickering, C., Bishop, D., Mikulic, P., & Pedišić, Ž. (2019). Health check: can caffeine improve your exercise performance?. Sydney Morning Herald.

Caffeine – Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). (2022). Retrieved 13 April 2022, from https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/factsheets/supplements/caffeine/

 

 

 

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