Understanding the Relationship Between Caffeine and Fitness

Understanding the Relationship Between Caffeine and Fitness

Athletes, like boxers, often drink beverages or take supplements that contain caffeine to gain a competitive edge. While there are some benefits in this area, taking caffeine to improve performance can be a double-edged sword. The relationship between caffeine is complicated and often difficult to understand. This article looks at caffeine as part of an athlete’s diet to help you determine whether you want to use it or if it is better to avoid it altogether.

When Caffeine Enters the Body

Because caffeine is absorbed quickly from the stomach, peak blood levels of the chemical can occur in about 45 – 60 minutes. Once it is circulating, caffeine can cause several responses in the body. Well known as a stimulant for the brain, there are also other physiological changes. Increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and stomach acid are noted. These can last up to 12 hours. However, with regular use, our body develops a tolerance to much of these effects. So, the benefits of caffeine as they relate to performance decrease over time and require higher doses to achieve the same effect.

Caffeine as a Performance Booster

Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. It has many benefits. However, it can also have drawbacks when used inappropriately. About 80 percent of Americans drink caffeine at least occasionally. The average daily intake of the chemical is around 200 mg each day, or sometimes a lower level of caffeine for pregnant people or those with a particular health condition is advised. Most of us are familiar with the benefits of heightened alertness and improved performance. The story doesn’t end there, however. Many people report feeling jittery and nervous after taking caffeine. This seems to be more pronounced in individuals who eat a clean diet and abstain from other types of drugs and alcohol. In this respect, caffeine can actually hinder performance.

Does Caffeine Cause Dehydration?

Not exactly. The US military has studied caffeine and its relationship to hydration and found that there was no significant impact when consumed in moderate amounts. It is thought, however, that because caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant, it may make users less likely to desire water throughout the remainder of the day. Coffee, in particular, is known to have to stimulate more frequent bowel movements, which may contribute to dehydration.

Potential Adverse Effects of Caffeine

When making the decision of whether to take caffeine and any other drug — it is important to consider the potential side effects.

Because caffeine does increase the production of stomach acid, it can worsen symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux.

Insomnia, poor sleep patterns and increased anxiety are all well-observed side effects of caffeine that can result in an overall lack of energy and fatigue.

Studies suggest that some people are more prone to caffeine-induced stress. A survey of over 2,000 heart attack cases was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. It showed that participants who were slower to metabolize the caffeine — a genetic predisposition — were more likely to suffer heart attacks.

If you choose to use caffeine, it is best to understand the effect the chemical has on your body. It is established that caffeine does cause dependence over time. It has both mental and physical withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping. So, if you do decide to quit caffeine, it is recommended to do so over the course of a week or more to avoid the unpleasant detox symptoms.

The Importance of Staying Hydrated While Exercising

Staying hydrated while exercising helps increase your endurance and fight fatigue.   Your muscles contain approximately 75% water.  Not being properly hydrated will lead to muscle fatigue and/or muscle cramps and not enough water will also cause you to suffer from a loss of strength, power, and cardio endurance.  Additionally, without enough water you will experience a drop in blood volume, resulting in a drop in blood pressure which could lead to dizziness.

It is recommended that you drink 8-10 ounces of water for every 10-15 minutes spent exercising.  If you exercise for longer than an hour, or your workout is particularly intense, it is recommended you consume electrolytes.  Electrolytes are minerals found in blood that help regulate the amount of water in your body.  Sports drinks such as Gatorade helps replenish your body with electrolytes.  Electrolytes are also found in many fruits, bananas and dates containing some of the higher levels. Remember to hydrate with water while consuming fruit.

The factors to consider when exercising that will increase your water loss are higher altitude, higher temperature, perspiration level and the duration and intensity of your workout.  With proper hydration you will have more energy, power and more endurance.  You will stay cooler and feel better while working harder and burning more calories. Sip your water and do not chug it and always carry water  with you.


Why Protein is Good for Weight Loss?

A high protein diet can boost a hunger suppressing hormone called PPY, helping you “feel full” longer.

Protein consumed with carbohydrates will slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream which will stop your blood sugar from spiking and help cut-down future cravings.

Protein has a higher thermal effect than carbohydrates or fats.  In other words, your body burns more calories digesting protein than carbs or fats and protein preserves calorie burning muscle.

Protein is needed for muscle repair and growth.  After strength training or intense exercising a high protein snack is recommended to supply your body with the necessary nutrients needed for repair and growth.

Protein should supply you with 15 – 20% of your total daily caloric intake.  Too much protein can lead to weight gain, just like too many carbohydrates or fats. Excess protein can lead to kidney problems over the long term.

A balanced diet should always be your goal.

What to Eat Before a Workout

Just as you’d fill up your car’s gas tank before a road trip, it’s vitally important to make sure your body has the right fuel to sustain you during a workout.

Proper nutrition, both before and after, will also “speed up recovery, protect you from fatigue and get you ready for the next workout,” says Jenna A. Bell-Wilson, PhD, RD, LD, a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics.

So, what should you eat before going for a bike ride or heading to the gym? Use these guidelines and snack ideas to keep your engine running optimally.

Balance carbs with protein
“A relatively high-carbohydrate, moderate protein, low-fat meal is best to consume before exercise,” says Suzette Kroll, a registered dietitian and senior staff member of the Canyon Ranch Spa in Tucson, AZ. People often underestimate the importance of the carb part of the equation when fueling up for exercise, especially strength training, says Bell-Wilson. “They assume it’s all about protein. Protein is important for muscle building and repair, but in order to lift those weights you need carbohydrates for energy,” she says. Choose carbs that are easily digestible and avoid high-fat foods – or large quantities of any food – just before working out because they don’t digest well during exercise.

Time it right 
“Whether you’re strength training or going on a run, you want to make sure you have something within four hours before the workout and then a smaller snack in the hour before,” says Bell-Wilson. If you know your workout is only going to last 45 minutes, keep the snack small, she says. “If it’s going to last 2 hours, then you’re going to want to beef up that pre-exercise meal.”

Carefully assess protein bars 
When squeezing a workout into a busy schedule, you may like the convenience of protein or “sports” bars. Make sure you choose carefully; according to Kroll, most bars are “glorified candy bars, often providing even more calories.” To find the better ones, Bell-Wilson suggests choosing a bar that has about 200 calories, up to 5 grams of protein and 25 grams of carbohydrates. “If you find a bar that you really like, but it’s high in calories, just eat half of it,” says Bell-Wilson. “Save the other half for after your workout.”

Don’t eat more than you burn
You just finish a heart-pumping, hour-long workout. You take a quick shower and then pass the gym’s café on the way out. Watch out for those healthy-looking snacks. One smoothie or even a sports drink can replace all the calories you just burned, and then some. “It’s important to realize that just because you worked out doesn’t give you free rein in the kitchen,” says Bell-Wilson. “The reward is that you went and you did it.” If you exercise for an hour or less, your best bet is to grab a bottle of water and eat at your next scheduled meal. “If it lasts longer, plan to have a snack in your locker or on your way home,” says Bell-Wilson.

5 pre-workout snack ideas
1. Half a chicken, turkey or lean roast beef sandwich on whole-wheat bread
2. Low-fat yogurt with a sliced banana
3. Low-fat string cheese and 6 whole-grain crackers
4. Hard-boiled eggs, yolks removed and replaced with hummus
5. Skim milk blended with frozen fruit to make a smoothie

5 post-workout replenishing meal ideas
1. One or two poached eggs on whole-wheat toast
2. Bean burrito: a whole-wheat tortilla filled with black beans, salsa and reduced-fat cheese
3. Stir-fried chicken and vegetables (try pepper, zucchini and carrot) over brown rice
4. Whole-wheat pasta tossed with chicken, broccoli and eggplant
5. Whole-grain cereal or oatmeal, with milk and fruit (such as a sliced banana)

Article By: Meredith Bergman and Amy Leibrock as appeared on WeightWatchers.com


Body Recomposition

Body Recomposition through diet and exercise…It CAN be done!!!

While body recomposition is difficult, it can be done. In fact, with the right approach, it’s actually pretty simple. That said, as you delve more deeply into any process, you will need to following new steps in order to progress. Taking these next steps, of course, leads to better results.

Part 1 of this series focused on approaching body recomposition through calorie cycling. While that is undoubtedly a great start, we’re going to take the next step and teach you how to cycle your macronutrients (carbs, fat, and protein) to make the entire process more effective.

Read more…