Positive and Negative Effects of Caffeine On Athletes

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On sipping my coffee today I wonder if there are any positive effects of caffeine at all? On some research, I did find out, if you consume appropriately there are benefits of caffeine that you didn’t think of. What about caffeine and athletes? Are there any negative effects of caffeine on athletes? Let’s find out!

Research shows that the average amount of caffeine consumed by citizens in the US on a daily basis is at an approximate of 300 mg. That is well about two to four cups per person. It also shows that at least 80% of the US population consumes some sort of caffeine every day.

As an athlete, stamina and endurance is the most critical part of a successful career.

Better parts of research show the intake of caffeine could have both positive and negative effects on athletes.

These effects could very well be extreme depending on behavioral factors, body state, when, and how much quantity you consume.

So the negative effects of caffeine consumption could even forfeit an athlete’s career as a sportsperson.

The state of the human body very well determines how well the body functions. For athletes, the body state is of paramount importance to ensure a 100% performance.

But it seems like the intake of caffeine has proved to be needful at some point of every athlete’s career. Hence it is deemed worthwhile to understand the positive and negative effects of caffeine.

What is caffeine made of?

Caffeine is an alkaloid (C8H10N4O2) and natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants. It is a central nervous system stimulant of the methylxanthine class.

Caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug, helping one to stay alert and preventing the onset of tiredness. It is present in over sixty plants, including coffee beans, tea leaves, and kola nuts.

Did you know? China and India are the world’s largest producers of tea whereas Brazil and Vietnam are the largest producers of coffee in the world.

How long does the caffeine last in your body?

Caffeine when consumed could have effects proven to begin as early as 15 minutes after ingestion and could last for as long as six hours. So it’s better to avoid drinking coffee or tea at least 6 to 7 hours before you hit the sack.

How much coffee is too much?

According to the MayoClinic, most healthy adults can consume up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day.

Adolescents should, however, ingest no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day and children should not consume caffeine.

Positive and Negative Effects of Caffeine On Athletes

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The effects of caffeine on the human system are quite broad and differ based on the individual in the study. Research has shown that different people especially athletes(due to their extreme active body involvement) react differently to it’s ingestion.

While some generally get negative effects by taking the specified and accepted amount, others have no problem taking similar doses.

Before we get down to discuss the negative effects of caffeine consumption, let’s breakdown the positive effects of caffeine and the myths about it.

Positive effects of caffeine on athletes

Let’s now discuss the positive effects or the benefits of caffeine for athletes.

1. Enhanced endurance

The administration of caffeine at a near perfect dosage has sometimes proved to be the very difference between winning and losing. Especially in sporting events that involve strenuous activities over a long period of time.

Long distance cyclists, marathon racers and athletes involved in cross-country racing usually benefit from the use of caffeine or caffeine-containing energy drinks to improve endurance over the full course of the event.

A few research results record a 4-5 percent improvement in overall endurance performance for caffeine-treated athletes.

2. Strength Performance

One of the significant benefits of caffeine for athletes is the strength and endurance. It has also improves physical performance in power related sporting activities.

In addition to increased strength performance effect well known to be available on short-term, usually the first 15 minutes, caffeine has been found to help mobilize fat stores.

Caffeine enables the body to use fat as its primary fuel source. By using fat as fuel, the human body spares glycogen. Th glycogen is an additional fuel source found in the liver and muscles.

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3. Better Reaction (alertness) and Recovery

One of the most common reasons for the use of caffeine is alertness effect. In almost all cases, caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant, which can cause a noticeable impact on alertness when it reaches the brain. The effect makes the athlete feel more alert and less tired through a sporting event.

Caffeine has also been discovered to be used to help speed up the recovery process of athletes and keep them ready for the next day’s work.

Myths about caffeine

There have been several myths about the negative effects of caffeine, including dehydration and weight loss.

The belief that the intake of caffeine could lead to dehydration has been proved wrong time after time.

In fact, studies have proven it to provide similar hydrating qualities to water and have no significant effect on weight loss of a person.

While caffeine intake in liquid form is no substitute to drinking water; the diuretic effect has been proven to in no way offset hydration. Studies also show that the consumption of caffeine could help improve and boost cognitive performance.

Negative effects of caffeine on athletes

1. Addiction of caffeine

The first noticeable and pervasive effect of the intake of caffeine on athletes or any sportsperson is the addiction. On most occasions, athletes have been recorded to become so dependent on the stimulating effect of the alkaloid that they can no longer do without it.

Most times, frequent and excessive consumption of energy drinks with a high percentage of caffeine content could trigger a minor level of an addictive process for some athletes.

Research shows that frequent ingestion of the stimulant triggers certain brain chemicals which reacts in a way similar to cocaine on its addicts.

This chemical causes a sort of dependency which despite not being as dangerous as drug addiction, still possess a danger to the athlete in question.

2. Fatigue and dizziness

Negative effects of caffeine on athletes

For athletes, most of the time caffeine acts as a stimulant and boosts energy to stay in charge for a longer period during performances. But on the long run, over consuming can cause fatigue.

Alongside causing fatigue, it is also causes a certain level of dizziness especially when it eventually begins to wear off from the user.

This dizzy effect has been linked to the reaction processes. It occurs in cases where the goal is to stay alert for an unusually long period.

3. Muscle breakdown and skeletal effects

Muscle breakdown is a very rare effect found on athletes, especially those not used to the intake of caffeine.

Massive consumption in a short period could lead to a rare case of rhabdomyolysis in which damaged muscle fibers enter the bloodstream. This can cause kidney failure and a few other problems.

Ingestion of enormous amount may interfere with absorption and metabolism of calcium, and this can contribute to bone thinning according to medical researches and reports.

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4. General body discomfort

As an athlete, keeping the body healthy and in great shape is key to a successful career. If that’s the case, then the intake of caffeine is to be kept in check. Because research shows it could lead to several unforeseen body discomforts.

The consumption of caffeine for the above body ranges could lead to body discomforts like:

  • headaches
  • diarrhea
  • severe stomach upset
  • vomiting
  • acid reflux
  • aggravates ulcers, if you’re already have one.

While some of these body discomforts have all been said to be temporary, it could become severe too. In some case, it can also require strict medical procedures to rectify them.

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What does the law say about Caffeine intake by athletes?

As per the IOC (International Olympic Committee), athletes must limit their intake up to 12 micro grams caffeine per milliliters urine. These limits allow athletes to consume healthy amounts before a competition.

Your thoughts,

Do you consume coffee or tea every day? Are you an athlete who thinks there are benefits to drinking caffeine everyday? Or are you addicted to caffeine? Share your comments below. We love to hear from you.

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Key Takeaways on The Positive and Negative Effects of Caffeine

  • The intake of caffeine could have both positive and negative effects on athletes. It acts as a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants.
  • Sources tell that most healthy adults can consume up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day. Adolescents should, however, ingest no more than 100 mg per day and children should not consume at all.
  • These positive and negative effects of caffeine could very well be extreme depending on behavioral factors, body state, when, and how much quantity you consume.
  • It acts as a central nervous system stimulant, which can cause a noticeable impact on alertness when it reaches the brain. Staying alert while performing could be one of the benefits of caffeine for athletes especially.
  • Studies show that the consumption of caffeine could help improve and boost human memory.
  • Other positive effects or benefits of caffeine for athletes include improvement in overall endurance performance.
  • Helps speed up the recovery process of athletes and keep them ready for the next day’s work.
  • One of the first noticeable negative effects of caffeine on athletes or any person is the addiction.
  • Alongside causing fatigue, it is also known to cause a certain level of dizziness especially when it eventually begins to wear off from the user.
  • Ingestion of enormous amount may interfere with absorption and metabolism of calcium, and this can contribute to bone thinning.
  • Depending on your body type, the negative effects include discomforts like:
    • headaches
    • diarrhea
    • severe stomach upset
    • vomiting
  • As per the law, athletes must limit their intake up to 12 micro grams/ml of urine.

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