Caffeine is naturally present in some of the nation’s favourite beverages, such as tea and coffee. Typically, we use a cup of fresh coffee to ‘wake ourselves up’ each morning, relying on caffeine’s stimulatory effects. The amount of caffeine in a good cup of coffee can range from 50 – 200 mg depending on the type of coffee, how it is made etc. Several people don’t realise, however, that more is not necessarily better when it comes to caffeine ingestion…
How does it work?
Caffeine is a stimulator of our central nervous system, and has several mechanisms by which its effects take place. Predominantly, caffeine reverses the action of the molecule, adenosine. Adenosine is responsible for increasing the feeling of sedation when it acts upon its receptors. Thus caffeine blocking the adenosine receptors increases the feeling of alertness, hence it is relied upon as our morning saviour!
As well as awaking us from our slumber, caffeine is well researched in providing several performance benefits when it comes to exercise, which is why we use caffeine in our uniquely formulated myedge product.
Caffeine has been well proven to benefit several different forms of exercise. Doses ranging from 200 to 500 mg (3 cups of strong coffee!) are commonly used to research the effectiveness of caffeine. Evidence suggests however doubling the dose of caffeine is not thought to be any more effective than the smaller dose. It is one’s sensitivity to caffeine (see below) that highlights how effective it is as a performance enhancing compound. This is one of the reasons why we have only included a maximum of 200 mg per serving in our myedge formula.
Improvements in power output have been shown in several studies, improving both strength and endurance performance. It has been suggested that the increase in calcium levels in the muscle cell (vital for muscular contraction) from caffeine ingestion allows an individual to improve the amount of force; power, during a muscular contraction.
During endurance activities, caffeine intake has been shown to increase time to exhaustion (greater work completed). Due to its adenosine inhibiting actions, it is thought caffeine can reduce the perceived levels of exertion through a reduction in exercise induced pain. This will allow the continuation of high intensity exercise and therefore, improved performance! Another theory is the ‘glycogen sparing’ (carbohydrate) effects of caffeine from increased levels of adrenaline, which in turn can cause increased free fatty acid availability and use.
New research is also suggesting caffeine could aid in reducing the phenomenon known as delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMs) 48 to 72 hours after exercise, the feeling of where we can barely stand up after a hard bout of exercise!
Great! Pass me the coffee!
Unfortunately, frequent and prolonged caffeine ingestion will lead to one developing a ‘tolerance’ to caffeine, which leads to a significant reduction in its effects i.e you will notice minimal performance benefit from caffeine intake. Increasing the dose of caffeine ingested does not help in this situation and in fact will increase the tolerance to caffeine.
Tip! Less is more!
To gain both lifestyle and performance enhancing benefits from caffeine ingestion, you must have a sensitivity for caffeine. Abstaining from caffeine ingestion for 2 – 4 weeks will help improve your sensitivity for caffeine, therefore allowing you to benefit from this well researched compound. For the tea and coffee lovers, switching to decaffeinated variants during this time period should do the trick!