Using Caffeine During Training and Racing


February 2nd, 2022

Using Caffeine During Training and Racing

Caffeine, above all in the form of coffee is a commonly used substance, especially in exercise contexts. Its use is normalized not only in everyday life, but also in training and racing, as it has many positive effects on power output.

Benefits:

  • Increases alertness
  • Reduces perception of effort
  • Increases fat oxidation
  • Delays an athlete’s time to fatigue

Drawbacks:

  • Jitteriness
  • Headache
  • Stomach issues
  • Adrenaline
  • Raise heart rate and compounds pre-race nerves

The drawbacks are mainly caused by a false dose or happen to people that are not used to its consumption. Caffeine is 99% absorbed within the first 45-60 min after ingestion, and the effects start to set in after 20-30 min. But they can last up to several hours. So a caffeine dose prior to a 5k or 10k race covers the whole time.

But how much caffeine should an athlete consume?

The recommended amount is around 3-6 mg of caffeine per kg bodyweight. That depends on how used to it the athlete is. Its also recommendable to limit caffeine consumption the days prior to the race so the effects increase on race day.

There are multiple sources to get caffeine from. Common are drinks such as tea, coffee, soda or energy drinks, pills, energy gels or shots as well as sports nutrition products such as powder, bars or gum. But when it comes to deciding which to choose, it depends on personal preferences, convenience, availability and the desired dose.

A common thesis is that coffee is a diuretic, thus dehydrate s the body. And yes, it has a mild diuretic effect, it flushes sodium and fluid from the body, but firstly the amounts are so little that it wouldn’t contribute to a serious dehydration, and secondly are these effects decreased during exercise.

Still, it is always important to test the use of caffeine during training, before using it in racing.

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