What You Need to Know About Caffeine

Caffeine isn’t just found in your morning coffee – in fact, many everyday products contain this stimulant in varying amounts. For athletes, however, it’s important to understand how caffeine can affect your performance and goals.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about caffeine and how it can help or hinder you training.

What is caffeine?

Let’s start with the basics. Caffeine is a stimulant that is found in leaves, seeds and nuts of various plants. It can be found in tea and coffee as well as soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate and many sports supplements. Over the past few years, it has become quite commonplace for athletes to up their intake of caffeine to help them have more energy and achieve better results both during competition and training.

Can it help my performance?

Caffeine stimulates the Central Nervous System, providing us with increased levels of energy. This can make you feel more awake and capable of smashing out your training session or performing better during a competition or game. In this way, it can provide the added boost you need to really get the most from your body when you need it. People who play in teams, compete in endurance activities or are involved in high-intensity, short duration sports are thought to benefit most from caffeine supplements.

However, it’s important to know what type of caffeine is best for your needs and goals, as well as when to take it and what the potential side-effects are.

When should I consume caffeine?

As a general rule, research has found that 1-3mg per kg of bodyweight is sufficient to provide athletes with the added energy they need to compete or train to their best ability. This amount is thought to provide increased energy while decreasing the chance of experiencing negative side-effects.

If you’re considering taking caffeine supplements to enhance your performance, it’s important to consult with your dietitian first. They can help you develop a plan that will work for your specific needs, including when you should take it to achieve the best results. This could include before competition, during competition, or a mixture of both.

Are there any side-effects?

It’s important to note that, as a stimulant, caffeine can cause various side-effects. This can happen if you consume too much or if your body has a sensitivity to caffeine. These side-effects often include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Shakiness and impaired motor capabilities
  • Problems sleeping
  • Digestive issues

While these problems aren’t too serious and often fade away once the caffeine has left your system, it’s important to be aware of them. If you are taking caffeine supplements and find that you’re not feeling your best, you should contact your sports dietitian to ensure they can monitor and reduce your dosage as required.

Get professional advice today

Here at Sunshine Coast Dietetics, we strive to help all athletes achieve their goals by providing a personalised plan. If you’re interested in caffeine supplementation and whether it can work for you, simply get in touch with us today and book an appointment with one of our friendly and experienced dietitians.