According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), caffeine is known as one of the world’s most popular stimulants, but is it really good for athletes? Let’s find out.
Caffeine is found in many different types of foods that most people enjoy such as coffee, chocolate, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks. On average most people drink at least two cups of coffee per day. Therefore, caffeine is a widely accepted and legal drug across the globe. It has been shown to affect the brain, blood pressure, fat stores, and pulse rate. Many athletes use caffeine as an ergogenic source of energy to increase athletic performance.
The ACSM had a recent study that demonstrated 3-9mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight one hour prior to exercise increased endurance in athletes. However, further effects of caffeine on endurance athletes have yet to be determined. Some side effects of caffeine consumption for some individuals include: altered sleep patterns, anxiety, dehydration, cramping of muscles, headaches, gastrointestinal distress and fatigue. In my opinion, I don’t think that these potential side effects are worth the risk for a better workout.
I am an avid endurance runner, and usually run 2-6 miles 4-5 times a week. I have tested myself to see if caffeine really does make a difference and for me I didn’t notice. Since caffeine affects everyone differently you will have to see what works best for you.
If you choose to ingest caffeine to enhance athletic performance make sure to hydrate properly and eat something along with it, like a banana. Potassium in bananas and other fruits helps relieve muscle cramping. I suggest that caffeine use should be minimal because after all, exercising is beneficial for your health and working a little harder is more rewarding.
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