Coffee lovers rejoice! Numerous studies have shown that consuming caffeine prior to physical activity improves performance in a big way. Caffeine positively impacts your cognitive functioning by increasing concentration, focus, reaction time and decision making. Physically, caffeine allows your body to maintain/increase power output, speed, endurance, coordination, agility, and maximum strength capacity. In addition to being an enjoyable and aromatic morning routine to start off your day, consuming the right amount of coffee at the right time can be the ultimate performance enhancer whether you are a runner looking to get faster, an endurance enthusiast going the distance, a team athlete, or a lifting aficionado building muscle.
When it comes to caffeine quantity matters – so how much should you consume? On average, 1.5 – 4 milligrams of caffeine per pound of body weight will provide just the right boost to amp up your workout or race (for a 150 pound athlete, this comes out to about 225-600mg). An eight ounce cup of coffee contains anywhere from 80 – 175mg (depending on whether you are drinking brew, drip, or espresso) and the same amount of brewed tea has around 40mg. Energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster usually contain roughly 80mg while twelve ounce sodas clock in just under 60 mg (but we suggest you stick with unsweetened coffee or tea to steer clear of added sugar and artificial ingredients!). Like most things in life, moderation is key so if you overdo caffeine intake, performance enhancements are lost and you may wind up feeling jittery, nervous, and dizzy.
Timing of caffeine intake also plays a key role in the degree to which performance is affected. Caffeine concentration in the bloodstream peaks in 30-60 minutes and stays high for about 3-4 hours. On average, about half is gone within 4-6 hours and 75% will be cleared within 6-7 hours. In short – your window of opportunity to obtain a performance benefit lasts roughly 4 hours from the time you ingest it, so plan accordingly. Consuming caffeine about an hour before you begin a workout or race will help ensure that blood levels are high when you begin.
As an added bonus, coffee can actually help enhance recovery. Beverages with carbs and caffeine rebuild glycogen stores more than drinks that are made of only carbs so next time you stop for your post-run or workout coffee fix, enjoy it and know that you are boosting your body’s recovery capabilities.
Ready to see how caffeine can improve your Human Performance?
Register for an O2X Summit Challenge. Having a race on the calendar helps you stay on track with goal-setting, training consistency, and overall mental performance by knowing that you are working toward a greater, tangible goal. Register now and encourage family and friends to take on a challenge with you!