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CAFFEINE: More than proved scientific evidence

Published on 18/11/2019 11:37

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There is absolutely no doubt that caffeine is one of the most generally and widely-used substances, both by professional and by amateur sportspeople.

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What effects are attributed to caffeine?

It is known to reduce fatigue, increase the attention span and strength in sportspeople and, because of this, it increases sporting performance.

Because of these advantages, which have been scientifically proved in the practice of sports, there are currently all kinds of supplements available: gels, bars, tablets, powders, shots, drinks… that contain this substance which we can obtain easily and without the need for a medical prescription.

Nonetheless, caffeine is also present in other “foods” which, at times, we are not aware of and we may go beyond the maximum health and tolerable caffeine limits, for example, in cold drinks, in coffee itself… Below we provide a table created by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) detailing the caffeine content of some foods:

  • Cup of filtered coffee 200ml -------------------------------------- 90 mg
  • Can of energy drink 250ml ---------------------------------------- 80 mg
  • Cup of black coffee (espresso) 60ml --------------------------- 80 mg
  • Cup of black tea 220ml -------------------------------------------- 50 mg
  • Can of cold drink 355ml ------------------------------------------- 50 mg
  • Milk chocolate bar 50g -------------------------------------------- 10 mg

 

You need to keep in mind that guarana is also caffeine, so supplements that mention guarana will need to be interpreted as containing caffeine. To give you an idea, 1g of guarana is equivalent to 47mg of caffeine.

 

Limits of use

A sportsperson weighing 65kg at the start of a competition may consume a maximum of 585mg of caffeine, but if that same sportsperson loses 4kg during the length of the competition through dehydration, their caffeine limit will be 549mg. It may appear to be a small difference, as we are talking about 35mg of caffeine, but 35mg is simply one caffeine gel too many, or a cola drink consumed in a moment of great thirst during the competition… without keeping in mind that a 330ml drink contains 35mg of caffeine.

We also provide the maximum health and recommended limits, although these differ depending on the scientific bodies:

  • EFSA: recommends that consumption is no more than 500mg in 24 hours.
  • UN: recommends that consumption is no more than 200mg in 24 hours.

 

These differences in the recommendations should make you anticipate that consumption above 200mg may cause unpleasant secondary effects (tachycardia, insomnia, irritability, dehydration, increased bowel movement, stomach irritation…) and for this reason, sometimes it is not necessary to go beyond this amount of caffeine, particularly in competitions lasting less than 10-12 hours and which don’t take place during the night.

 

Demonstrated ergogenic effects of caffeine

There are many notable positive effects of caffeine on sporting performance. Here are some of them:

1. It has a positive effect on physical ability by prolonging the time you can maintain high intensity exercise.

2. It raises the sportsperson’s attention span of the sportsperson and maintains their state of alertness.

3. It has positive effects on prolonged resistance sports.

4. The maximum load is increased in strength and power exercises.

5. It reduces the feeling of fatigue in sportspeople.

 

Conclusions

Caffeine has been proven to help ergogenically, not only for your own sport, but also for the majority of sports. The consumption protocols need to be individually set according to each person, the sport, the race profile, duration… and try to avoid consuming the maximum healthy amount even when you know that you can tolerate a larger amount. An excess of caffeine may cause irritability, tachycardia and insomnia, among other undesirable and unhealthy effects.

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He convertido mi pasión por el deporte y mi formación en nutrición humana y dietética en mi trabajo y hobby, disfrutando cada día de la planificación deportiva desde el deportista amateur, al apasionado de la larga distáncia al atleta de élite en competiciones a nivel mundial. www.nutriexper.com

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