– by Renee Mcgregor
Some people can’t even think about stringing a sentence together before they have had their first shot of caffeine, while others will be reduced to a nervous wreck simply from inhaling coffee fumes.
So what is the deal with caffeine?
For years we were told to be wary of how many caffeinated drinks we consumed daily as they had diuretic properties, resulting in dehydration.
As science evolves, messages change and the truth is that a moderate consumption – 1–3 strong cups of coffee a day, 3–6 cups of tea or a can of coke – will have no negative effect on your health.
When it comes to sports nutrition, caffeine has its own part to play. It has been used by many elite athletes as a performance- enhancing substance, but as with everything, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.
Individuals are either caffeine responders or non-responders. If you are someone who can drink a cup of coffee late at night and still sleep like a baby, you are a non-responder. In other words, caffeine has no effect on you at all. If, however, the opposite is true and you will be up all night, tossing and turning, you are responder. Caffeine works best as a performance enhancer in those who are responders and the suggested dose is 1–3mg/kg bW about an hour before training/competing.
If you find that you respond strongly, I would suggest sticking to the lower limit of this value and definitely practise drinking this amount in training.
For non-responders there is some evidence to suggest that cutting caffeine out completely for 10 days and then re-introducing it before a competition can have more enhanced effects.
That said, you have to weigh up if the withdrawal symptoms are worth it or not!
My advice to athletes is that if you habitually drink caffeine then it is best not to change anything immediately before a competition.
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