Stay­ing caf­feinated

Canadian Running - - BODY WORK -

In the crowded world of over­hyped and in­ef­fec­tive sports sup­ple­ments, caf­feine stands out be­cause, well, it works. Study af­ter study has con­firmed that it boosts en­durance per­for­mance, for rea­sons that are prob­a­bly re­lated to changes in how you per­ceive ef­fort. But caf­feine stands out for a dif­fer­ent rea­son, too: Most peo­ple al­ready con­sume it reg­u­larly. As with any other drug, you build up a tol­er­ance to caf­feine’s ef­fects with re­peated use, mak­ing a given dose less ef­fec­tive. As a re­sult, a com­mon prac­tice among elite ath­letes is to swear off cof­fee and other caf­feine sources for up to a week be­fore a big race, in or­der to en­sure they get the max­i­mum jolt from their pre-race caf­feine.

Is this re­ally nec­es­sary? In a new study re­ported in the Jour­nal of Ap­plied Phys­i­ol­ogy, Brazil­ian sci­en­tists asked 40 cy­clists to com­plete a se­ries of 30-minute all-out tri­als, with or with­out caf­feine. Sure enough, the cy­clists were 2.5 per cent faster with caf­feine than with a seem­ingly iden­ti­cal placebo.

But the key re­sult came when they di­vided their sub­jects into low, medium or high-caf­feine users based on their ha­bit­ual con­sump­tion. There was no dif­fer­ence be­tween the three groups in the size of the boost they got dur­ing their caf­feinated ride. That sug­gests that what­ever tol­er­ance the high-caf­feine group may have built up, it didn’t af­fect the en­durance ben­e­fits – so, to the relief of spouses and chil­dren ev­ery­where, there’s no need to swear off caf­feine (and in­cur the un­pleas­ant ef­fects of with­drawal) be­fore a big race.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.