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Pros and cons of caffeine in sports

Pros and cons of caffeine in sports

Mireia Cervera 06 February 2017

The stimulating effects of caffeine are not new , they have been known and used for dozens of years. Yes, caffeine is for many an essential source of energy. In fact, all cultures enjoy some type of drink cWith this stimulant, such as tea in England and China, espresso in Italy or "American" coffee in the United States. Caffeine is also a substance widely consumed by the sports population as an ergogenic aid to obtain energy.a before exercising and to train longer and harder. They usually consume it in the form of coffee, energy drinks, supplements in the form of pills ... In this post we are going to explain the role of caffeine in sports.

What is caffeine?

It is a natural substance (alkaloid) obtained from the seeds and leaves of coffee, tea and other vegetables. One of the best known effects is that it is a stimulant of the nervous system.central bear that makes us feel more energetic and alert, relieving fatigue and drowsiness.

According to the European Food Information Counciltion (EUFIC), the adult population of Europe, consumes an average of 200 mg (100-400 mg) of caffeine per day.

The main sources of caffeine are found in coffee, tea, guarana, cola drinks and other soft drinks fromthe so-called energy, and can even be found in low amounts in cocoa and derivatives.


When should we take it?

Caffeine is recommended to be taken 1 hour before exercise, in good condition.It is resting, since the maximum peak of blood concentration will be reached in this time, remaining stable between 3-4 hours (although it varies according to the source of caffeine and individual metabolic differences), so we make sureoptimal levels during the test or training. There are very good studies on the use of caffeine in endurance exercise, such as long-distance running and cycling, and in more intense sports such as soccer. Almost all eStudies conclude that caffeine improves performance by 11% and makes exertion seem 6% easier.

If you are not used to drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages, the benefits will be more noticeable than if you are ahabitual coffee drinker.


Is it considered a doping substance?

Caffeine has a stimulating action, and as such is on the list of doping substances of the Olympic Committee Intconditional on certain doses. This dose corresponds to the amount of caffeine that would be ingested by drinking eight cups of the coffee that is consumed regularly.

What effects does it have on our athletic performance?

Caffeine Pros

  • Reduction of the feeling of fatigue during exercise.
  • Increased lipolysis: free fatty acids are released, so that the muscles use this fat as fuel, reducing the nneed to use glycogen.
  • Vasodilation and, therefore, increased blood flow, oxygen and nutrient transport of the muscles.
  • Central nervous system stimulation, with euphoric psychological effectsand activation that increase the athlete's tolerance to exertion.

Cons of caffeine

  • It can mask fatigue: by not perceiving the need for rest, therefore, the chances of injury due to overtraining increase.
  • Its consumption can lead to the appearancedependence, although with a much more benign withdrawal syndrome than in other cases; headache, irritability, and drowsiness.
  • Stimulates gastric acid and pepsin secretion, leading to gastric intolerance.
  • At high doses it produces excitement, anxiety and insomnia.
  • In the case of a competition, simple nerves before starting can supplant the effect of caffeine, so having a coffee before can make things worse (too nervousism, excitement or overly active digestive system ...).


As we can see, everything is very subjective when it comes to caffeine and sports. Some will do well and others fatal. With what you are yourself and your feelings, the one who will decide if youCaffeine does give you some performance improvement or not. What is clear is that good hydration and nutrition far outweigh any effect that caffeine may have. No supplement will allow you to make up for a diet dpoor sportsmanship.

Mireia Cervera Nutritionist Teresa Carles Healthy Foods Group - Flax & Kale