Mixing Exercise and Caffeine
Can exercise and caffeine go together? We all know that exercise is good, first let’s find out what caffeine is. Caffeine which is the main ingredient of coffee is the one responsible for stimulating our central nervous system every time we’re enjoying a nice cup of aromatic coffee. Usually found as the main ingredient in coffee beans, chocolates, and tea leaves, caffeine is also a popularly added ingredient commonly found in carbonated beverages and over-the-counter remedies such as weight controlaids, aspirin, diuretics, and cold remedies. In the US alone, coffee is estimated to contribute 75% of the country’s caffeine consumer products.
The central nervous system is stimulated by caffeine when adenosine is blocked. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter in the brain which normally creates a soothing effect on the body. The resulting effect causes the adrenaline glands to pump out more adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone, into the system. Your pupils dilate, Your heart rate increases, your muscles tighten up and glucose is released into your bloodstream for extra energy which is popularly known as “caffeine buzz”. But not only that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, it also increases dopamine which activate pleasure in parts of the brain. It has been suspected that dopamine also contributes to caffeine addiction.
In addition to various psychological and physiological benefits of caffeine, there are studies that show ergogenic effect on athletic performance is particularly regarding to endurance. The studies showed that when caffeine is ingested prior to exercising, endurance is extended moderately during strenuous physical activity. Caffeine consumption also showed increased performance times on elite runners and distance swimmers. These studies can prove that exercise and caffeine can go together just fine. To sum it all up, caffeine makes you feel alert, increasing adrenaline to give your energy a boost and changes your dopamine production to make you feel good. You can now cross out that question if exercise and caffeine can be mixed together because apparently the answer is yes. Now let’s find out the downside of it.
Caffeine which stimulates the central nervous system can be the cause of restlessness, headaches, irritability and it can also elevate your heart rate and blood pressure. In the long run your body will get used to it which will require bigger amounts of caffeine consumption to get the same effects, this is not very healthy.
Caffeine is also a diuretic and causes a loss of fluid which can lead to dehydration, which in this case it can’t be conducive to fitness activities such as resistance training. Body fluid is needed for the transfer of nutrients which is very important for muscle growth. Caffeine intake should be considered when exercising in hot environments which can lead to further loss of fluid in the body.
Perhaps the major long-term problem is the effect of caffeine on sleep. Caffeine can stay in the body for about 6 hours, so when you drink a big cup of coffee at 4PM, at 10PM you’ll still have 100mg in your body. By 4 in the morning you’ll still have about 50mg of caffeine floating in your system. Yes, you’ll be able to sleep, but as long as your hook you will never obtain the restful benefits of deep slumber.
Though exercise and caffeine can seem to go together just fine, a lot of health risks have been documented. But most of the problems seem to be only evident when the consumption of caffeine is very high. The American Heart Association say that moderate coffee drinking, meaning one to two cups per day does not seem to be harmful for most people. As with everything else, moderation is the key to healthy caffeine consumption.