A lot of athletes down an energy drink before every workout but is that really a good idea? Does caffeine actually enhance your performance? Or are there too many side effects?
Before you decide what to drink, you should know exactly what it is you are putting into your body! Caffeine works by increasing your blood pressure, pulse and stomach acid production. When you drink caffeine, fatty acids are released into your blood stream. This leaves you feeling full of energy.
The full effect of caffeine hits you around 45 to 60 minutes after you drink it. This effect can help you push your body harder during workouts. When you drink caffeine, your body uses through its fuel, glycogen, more slowly. In basic terms, that means that your body is in power saving mode so you will be able to push yourself through longer workouts. On average, caffeine increases you performance by about 10%.
So, how much caffeine is safe to drink? The recommended intake for teens is 100 mg per day while adults can have as much as 250 mg per day. Here’s how the numbers in your favourite drinks add up:
Cup of tea: 11 mg of caffeine
Can of Pepsi: 39 mg of caffeine
Can of Diet Coke: 42 mg of caffeine
Shot of Espresso: 64 mg of caffeine
Can of Red Bull: 80 mg of caffeine
When you are watching your caffeine intake, it is really important to pay attention to serving size. If you order a small coffee, you’ll be getting 110 mg of caffeine. Splurged on a large sized coffee? That is going to be almost 280 mg of caffeine. When you are grabbing a drink, remember that not all cups and cans are created equally! You could be getting four times as much caffeine as you think.
If you are going to have caffeine in a healthy way, you really do need to pay attention to serving sizes. And, even more importantly, it is best to pay attention to your body. Peoples’ caffeine tolerance vary so much! While your friends might be able to gulp down caffeine all day long, you might get a stomach ache from one can of soda. Work with your body, not against it! If you are feeling jittery and your heart is racing, drop your drink and get in the habit of scaling back.
One thing you don’t have to worry about too much is dehydration. The old school idea that caffeine dehydrates you is a myth! Unless you are consuming more than 600 mg of caffeine per day, you won’t be have to worry about dehydration. Of course, as an athlete, you should always make sure that you are regularly sipping on water but having the occasional caffeinated drink isn’t going to do any harm.
So, future Olympians, do what works for you! If you combine a bit of caffeine with a healthy diet and your body doesn’t protest, go for it. Like all things, enjoy in moderation!