Creatine may be today’s hottest sports supplement (we’ve written about it here before), but today’s blog post focuses on the athlete’s throw-back secret ergogenic weapon: caffeine. This often overlooked ingredient can help athletes stay focused and go harder, longer.
In fact, we believe in the benefits of caffeine so much that we put 25mg of it in each serving of FUEL (nutritional panel).
Those who want to bench press a taller stack or increase their leg turnover in a sprint will be disappointed: caffeine hasn’t been shown to help either of these situations. What it will help with is endurance activities, which can be defined as anything that has you cursing in pain hour after brutal hour.
If you’re looking to tackle SWAT training, BUD/s, Special Ops forces training, or any other operational athlete activity, caffeine could help you accept and crush these challenges head-on as either a pre workout supplement or as part of your nutrition during a workout.
For some additional information about caffeine and sports performance, check out websites from Rice University and Vanderbilt.
The Rice page does a nice job of summarizing a key study on caffeine and endurance sports:
In [a] study involving a 2-hour cycle endurance test, Ivey et al. (1979) found that 250mg of caffeine 1 hour before the test and another 250mg total divided in doses every 15 minutes during the test led to higher work output throughout the test. (Dews, p.89) This study resulted in a 7 percent average increase in total output among the athletes. By consuming caffeine during high endurance activities, it is possible to increase the total output.
If you want to incorporate caffeine into your next workout, check out these general use recommendations from Rice:
- Ingest caffeine about 3 – 4 hours before the competition. Although blood levels of caffeine peak much sooner, the maximum caffeine effect on fat stores appears to occur several hours after peak blood levels.
- Consider decreasing or abstaining from caffeine for 3 – 4 days prior to competition. This allows for tolerance to caffeine to decrease and helps ensure a maximum effect of caffeine. Be careful though, because some may experience caffeine withdrawal.
- Make sure that you have used caffeine extensively under a variety of training conditions and are thoroughly familiar with how your body reacts to this drug. Never try anything new on race day.
Laird Hamilton Bullet Proof Coffee Recipe