Time your caffeine intake right and boost your performance potential
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If there was a drug that promised to make you think quicker, run further, get stronger and burn fat faster, would you take it? The research is unequivocal and best of all it’s cheap, legal and available on every street corner… cafe.
Caffeine, the stimulating substance found in coffee and tea, provides a huge range of physical and mental performance benefits, whether you’re in the gym, the track or the office. Here’s four situations when a well-timed coffee can give you the edge.
1 Solve a problem
Need your brain to fire faster? Taking 200mg of caffeine, the amount found in two cups of filter coffee, can improve your speed and accuracy when completing mental puzzles, such as a word recognition task, according to Ruhr University in Germany.
2 Lift harder
If you’ve got a tough session having a coffee, or taking a pre-workout supplement that includes the stimulant, significantly lowers what’s known as your “perceived rate of exertion”, or how challenging you find an activity, says the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. In short, it means that tough training feels easier that it otherwise would, so you can push it harder for longer.
3 Torch fat
Struggling to shift your belly? A coffee can fire up fat loss. Subjects given 8mg of caffeine per kilo of bodyweight had a big rise in the level of free fatty acids in their blood, suggesting that the stimulant instructs your body to release energy from fat cells for use as fuel, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. While that’s a big dose of caffeine, a double espresso before training should have a decent fat-burning effect.
4 Run further
A decent dose of caffeine – think a double espresso – an hour before long-distance endurance exercise can increase your staying power, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, thanks to the caffeine initially sparing your muscles’ glycogen stores, so you’ve more energy in the tank when you need it most.
Can’t stand coffee?
If you want to perform better when training but don’t like tea or coffee, or don’t want the jitters, headaches or sleep problems that too much caffeine can cause for some people, you could consider taking a creatine monohydrate supplement. Why? Your body uses creatine to make ATP, which is the main energy supply for your cells. Taking between 5g and 10g per day increases the stores of ATP in your muscles, and so improves their ability to perform intense exercise, such as lifting weights and high-intensity interval training. Read more about the benefits of creatine here.