Coffee is good... maybe too good!
Most dietary experts recommend that daily consumption not exceed 300-400mg. Let's take the dialogue a step further. What role might caffeine play in athletic performance? And is there a target amount that might best support your training?
Out of the gate, let me say that Kenzai isn't much for supplements. We get all we need out of a balanced, plant-based diet.
But life offers us time to explore trends and ideas in health and wellness, and that is exactly my aim here.
Moving forward, to say that caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world isn't much of a reach.
Ultimately, it is a street legal stimulant. Further, it is considered an ergogenic (enhancing physical performance) substance.
That means it has positive benefits related to fitness training.
Stimulants have the capacity to alter how you feel and think. They act on the central nervous, as well as boost cardiac and respiratory function. Sitting down to a cup of french press at your local haunt should leave you feeling euphoric and alert, as well as improve your ability to breath deeply.
More specifically, in research studies, it has been shown to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness and help increase the number of reps you can bust out.
Pretty nice. And I just thought it tasted really good!
Considering these effects, it becomes easy to understand why stimulant use among professional and amateur athletes the world over has become so prevalent. Currently, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and World Anti-Doping Agency ban over 50 substances that have similar effects/chemical makeups as caffeine. Their use can give you a competitive advantage. In fact, caffeine use was banned by the World Anti-Doping agency until about ten years ago.
Presumably governing bodies are acting in athletes' best interest. And yet. For those of us who have poured large amounts of coffee into their system to stay up late, to say binge-watch there favorite shows, only get a glimpse of the dark side of stimulant use: Dehydration, jitters, tremors, and insomnia, too much makes you feel bad.
So, if we work under the premise that some coffee can help us reach our fitness goals, but too much can hinder our performance, how do we figure out what is the right amount? Word of caution: if you are not currently a caffeine drinker, skip it altogether. Regularly users can tell you that it is habit forming and withdrawal can leave you feeling irritable. Additionally, although considered largely benign, caffeine can interact with prescribed and over-the-counter medications.
For those that imbibe, this is what the latest research is saying: Our friends over at the National Academy of Sports medicine (NASM) suggest that taking between 2-4 milligrams of coffee per 2.2 pounds of body weight before or during activity can boost some aspects of performance. Caffeine takes about 10-30 minutes to hit the system. For a guy like me – 168lbs – I might drink 8-12 oz 1 hour prior to resistance training for best results.
Be reminded in your experimentation, that not everyone's body performs the same way. A caffeine novice is likely to have a significantly different experience with low to moderate doses than a regular.
It is not my intention to condone caffeine use to boost performance. Though its use does merit some reflection.
Ward Willis // Kenzai Head Trainer
Read Ward's Kenzai Training Journal