Caffeine is beneficial for endurance sports – this is why



Caffeine has often gotten a bad reputation as a stimulant.  It was even once a banned substance in competitive sports.  Though there is lots of talk about health benefits and adverse effects of caffeine, it’s actually very important in the world of endurance and competitive sports.

Image from Bicycling.con

Image from Bicycling.con

How does it work?

Scientific proof shows that caffeine increases the number of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream.  This means that muscles can absorb and burn available fat as fuel first, rather than subsiding to glycogen stores which cause muscle fatigue.  This also decreases mental fatigue and allows the body to keep going.

We also know that caffeine increases adrenaline in the body – which causes a flush of glucose of oxygen to the muscles.

Caffeine also increases blood flow in the body and increases heart rate.  It reduces the burning sensation associated with lactic acid (when your muscles are stiff after exercise).  Lactic acid builds up in the muscles as glycogen is burned and depleted, so if you can reduce the amount of glycogen your body needs to pull and burn, you subsequently reduce the soreness you feel as a by-product of that process.

How to properly use caffeine during exercise

If you’re going for short hike or run, drink a cup of tea or coffee, or a caffeine-fueled energy drink 30 minutes before you go. This is because it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to be absorbed into your body.

If you don’t drink coffee or tea, there are so many options to get the caffeine fix since the benefits of caffeine and exercise have been discovered!  Try a mix like the Vega Pre-Workout energizer or the Gnarly Pump.  Using caffeine in this way can delay fatigue and can allow you to push yourself longer and harder.

coffee shakes

If you want a sustained boost, don’t use a high amount of caffeine during the exercise because you’ll have to keep consuming it to avoid an energy crash.  During, try Skratch Labs Matcha and lemons  or our favourite Nuun energy tablets, which you just add to water.

A great end of activity boost of caffeine try Espresso GU Gel (in espresso love flavour), Clif Blok bars in chocolate cherry or black cherry flavours, or Bonk Breakers Energy Chews. Of course, there is nothing quite like a trip to the local coffee shop after a long ride, hike or climb!

For cyclists, take a small amount of caffeine in the last hour of a 3 plus hour ride, or runners, use it in the second half of the long distance run.

Coffee helps you nap, too

Did you know that you can also get a “super nap” when you consume a cup of coffee? Read about coffee naps here.

Alicja

Alicja

Alicja is an economist, enjoys climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, cycling and gets out into the backcountry as much as possible. See all of Alicja's Blog Posts
Alicja
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