Caffeine is a stimulant that is naturally found in herbs, coffee, and tea. It is a drug, but can be used without breaking the law. It is socially accepted and is a very popular beverage all over the world.
Caffeine is normally used to wake the brain and body up in the morning. It is effective, which is why many athletes use it to help them enhance their performance.
Caffeine Success Stories
One example is Elizabeth Beisel, a US swimmer who drank coffee before her competition at the Summer Olympics in 2012. It was the most important race of her life and she performed well – so well that she achieved two of her best times. Weldon Johnson, the founder of LetsRun.com was not fond of coffee, but he heard about the beverage’s effects to runners. He drank a cup of coffee before the race and he felt that it worked on him. For the first time ever, he was able to complete 10 kilometers in just 30 minutes.
Sports stars from cyclists to basketball and baseball players to sprinters are all prohibited from using performance enhancers – except caffeine. They are allowed to have a cup of coffee or enjoy a can of soda.
How Does Caffeine Boost Performance?
Although caffeine is truly remarkable in upping performance, very little is known about how it really works – particularly its intracellular system of action. But recent studies have shown that caffeine has great benefits for athletes and for active people. At a cellular level, drinking caffeine inhibits the action of adenosine A2A receptors. A few cups of coffee daily can block and bind the nerve cells that naturally constrain the activities of the striatum, the brain’s center for voluntary movement. This gives the body and the brain that needed “jolt.”
Caffeine stimulates the proper functioning of the central nervous system. As a result, alertness of the brain is enhanced and reaction time – which is very critical in sports – is increased as well. Caffeine can also inhibit reuptake of calcium, while increasing its release. These two effects allow the person to have more stamina.
How to Use Caffeine Effectively
Recent studies show that more isn’t necessarily better. In fact, caffeine should be consumed in low to moderate doses. The recommended amount is less than or equal to three mg/kg of the weight of the body. In other words, if you are 170 pound man, you can drink one to two cups of coffee daily to perform well in high intensity sports, such as rowing and swimming.