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, and so caffeine and fitness work together positively for your body.

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.

As you can see, the relationship between caffeine and fitness is complicated. 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.

If you have questions about how caffeine could be affecting your body, talk to our personal trainers and instructors and they can help point you in the right direction!

The Thermic Effect of Food

We burn energy (calories) when we metabolize the food we eat.  In other words, it takes energy to digest, absorb and process the nutrients we consume, and this is the “Thermic Effect of Food“.

The thermic effect of the different macronutrients are as follows:

  • Fat   2%-3%
  • Carbs   6%-8%
  • Protein   25-30%

The precise thermic effect of food varies, but it is obvious that it takes a lot less energy or calories to metabolize fats or carbohydrates than it does to metabolize protein.  Let’s say the thermic effect of protein is 25% and the thermic effect of fat is 2%. This means that if you were to consume 100 calories of protein you would end up with 75 calories, while if you were to consume 100 calories of fat you would end up with 98 calories.

In addition to protein, whole foods have a higher thermic effect than processed foods. One study  compared the thermic effect of a sandwich made with whole grain bread and cheddar cheese with a sandwich made from refined grains and processed cheese. The result – digesting the whole grain sandwich burned twice the calories of the sandwich made with refined grains.

In short, calories from protein and whole foods require more energy to digest than calories from processed foods. Keep this in mind if you are looking to lose weight. Be sure to talk to your trainer about the thermic effect of food and how that can affect your weight loss efforts. Sign up for your next class today!

Why Is Eating Fruits and Vegetables Important

A recent study by the Imperial College London reports that two-thirds of English citizens have a hard time consuming three to four portions of fruits and vegetables a day. For years it has been recommended we consume five portions a day to lower the risk of stroke by 18%, heart disease by 16%, cardiovascular disease by 13%, cancer by 4% , and an overall risk of an early death by 15%. But why is eating fruits and vegetables important?

The study shows we should be eating platefuls of fruits and vegetables; if five portions are good, ten portions are better. Dr. Darin, the lead author of the research from the School of Public Health at Imperial states,” We wanted to investigate how much fruits and vegetables you need to eat to gain the maximum protection against disease, and premature death. Our results suggest that although five portions of fruits and vegetables is good, ten a day is even better”.

Ten portions leads to a 24% reduction in heart disease, a 33% less chance of stroke, a 28% less chance of cardiovascular disease, a 13% less chance of cancer and a 31% less chance of premature death.
It is recommended that you eat the “rainbow”, or the different colors of veggies and fruits to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and boost your immune system. Not all vegetables and fruits are equal. Some fruits and vegetables are better at preventing heart disease and stroke while green veggies are better at reducing the chance of cancer.

Following are examples of the recommended size of a portion of fruits and vegetables: one apple, one pear, one glass of orange juice, one tomato, one banana, three tablespoons of peas, and two broccoli spears.

Now that you know why eating fruits and vegetables is important, keep this in mind the next time you are preparing a meal or reaching for a snack. Load up your dinner plate with vegetables and be sure to keep plenty of fruit on hand! Be sure to talk to our trainers for the best ways to load up on fruits and veggies during your next Champion workout! Sign up for your next class today!

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. You will feel much better staying hydrated while exercising.

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Why Protein is Good for Weight Loss?

Have you ever wondered 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. Now that you know why protein is good for weight loss, talk to your trainer today about the best diet to reach your goals.