Jenny, my doctor student, sends me all sorts of interesting information about nutrition and medicine in relation to sports and exercise. She recently fed me a link discussing caffeine consumption and how it can improve physical performance.
Don’t get too excited. This doesn’t mean that if you’re a caffeine junky who can’t get through a day without your coffee and/or coke that you’re more likely to perform well in competitions or during belt tests. It’s all about when it’s consumed and how much of it…. maybe.
There are a number of studies that suggest that if you consume caffeine (between 3-9mg per kilo of body weight) an hour before a physical event, you’re likely to experience performance-enhancing effects. To give you some perspective, a cup of drip coffee has 180mg, so if you’re 165lbs, you would need to have around 1.5-3.5 cups of coffee. Some of those studies also suggest that you’ll get the most benefits from caffeine if you’re usually a non-consumer.
Studies are not all entirely in agreement, however. There are several studies that have found no benefit for endurance athletes when using caffeine at the rates suggested above.
This post is not to suggest that I endorse consuming caffeine to enhance performance. If you’ve trained properly for a belt test, there is no reason why you shouldn’t do well. As for competitions, well, I guess it depends on what your motivations are for doing them. The Olympics seem to pooh-pooh caffeine consumption for this purpose. I just find the topic interesting because I’ve heard a lot of debate on the merits and demerits of caffeine.
How do you find caffeine affects your performance, if at all?