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What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a substance that has a pharmacological (drug-like) effect on the body. It is classed as a drug rather than a nutrient but is still considered a 'nutritional supplement' because it is found in many everyday drinks. The caffeine content of coffee varies between 50 and 100 mg/cup, tea contains 30-60 mg/cup, cola 50 mg/330 ml can and caffeinated 'energy' drinks roughly 100 mg/250 ml can.
It has long been used in sport to mask fatigue and increase endurance. The amount needed to get a performance-enhancing effect varies depending on your individual metabolism but studies have used amounts ranging from 3-15 mg/kg body weight (210-1050 mg for a 70 kg athlete). There are three main theories to explain caffeine's action on athletic performance :
Does Caffeine work?
Caffeine supplementation above 3 mg/kg body weight has proved beneficial for many types of exercise : endurance events lasting more than 90 minutes, high-intensity events lasting about 20 minutes and short-term highintensity activities lasting about 5 minutes. This is particularly true for aerobic-based events but caffeine also benefits power and strength activities. Although the studies to date have measured performance improvements while working with fitness equipments like treadmills, steppers, exercise bikes, home gyms, dumbbells, it is likely that caffeine would improve your performance during weight training. For example, researchers at RMIT University, Australia, found that caffeine improved performance and enhanced power output during 2000 m time trials on a rowing ergo meter, a power event lasting approximately 7 minutes.
Caffeine Dosage - Dont Overdose
Caffeine Doses between 3-5 mg/kg/body weight taken 30-60 minutes before training should produce a performance-boosting effect in most people. That would be equivalent to about three cups of coffee or three cans of caffeinated energy drink. However, as the sensitivity to caffeine varies, you may need to adjust the exact dose. Many people take caffeine overdose. But let me tell you that Overdosing or exceeding intake more than 5 mg/kg/body weight will not give you any further benefit but rather increase the caffeine content of your urine to levels above 12 micrograms/ml. This is the upper limit permitted in drug-tested sports.
Caffeine Side Effects
Up to a certain level, caffeine can make you feel more alert and wide awake. Excessive amounts can increase restlessness, nervousness, trembling, irritability and cause diarrhea or even heart palpitations. If you are susceptible to caffeine's side effects, it probably isn't worth taking as you won't get a performance-boosting effect and you can drink caffeine free green tea. Caffeine is also a diuretic, causing you to excrete more fluid. If you do decide to use caffeine, drink extra water before and during exercise to counteract this effect.
Other important supplements are :-
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