6

Jul

Tuesday Newsday: Caffeine in Sport

Tuesday is now Revolution Newsday.

We will bring you current news updates each week about what is happening at Revolution and right across the world of health, fitness and sport.

So… Waddaya wanna know?  We would love to hear suggestions or topics that you would like to gain a little information on.  However if like today there is something dominating the news that we think we can shed a little light on, your topic will take the back seat for a week.

Ok so, it was made public late yesterday that unfortunately once again Ben Cousins has been admitted to hospital with what appears to be an adverse reaction to a sleeping tablet.  First and foremost we hope he is on the mend (just heard a news update that he is leaving intensive care, so that’s great news).

The news services are reporting that after ingesting an amount of caffeine before or during the game on Sunday (in which I was heart broken due to my boys the Swannies getting beaten in the final 10 minutes of so!) followed by an amount of alcohol and then sleeping tablets.  These are the early reports and could change over the next few days, or hours or minutes, as more is made public.

After hearing and reading this in the news I thought I would write about caffeine and its use in sport.  The caffeine however is most probably not responsible for Ben’s admission to hospital in this case, but maybe through a combination effect with other substances it had contributed.

Make no mistake, caffeine is not just used to help awaken athletes prior to the game if they are feeling a little sluggish and don’t want there double shot espresso sloshing around in their guts as they run around for four quarters.  It’s used to increase their sporting performance.

Does that make it a performance enhancing drug that should be banned?  Who am I to make that call.  However it has been on the list on band substances previously with a certain dosage being outlawed.  Now it has been removed from that list.

So, why do footballers and other athletes use caffeine.

Caffeine has been proven to have a number of benefits for long duration, endurance events such as AFL football.

It can benefit an athlete in two ways depending on dosage and the intended result.

Firstly as everyone is aware caffeine has a stimulatory effect, meaning that the senses are aroused, reaction time is reduced and generally preparedness for action (sport) is increased.  Although I am reminded of the redbull add with the cartoon man on the beach and his “redbull can” standing to attention as the bikini topless girl is sun baking nude close by.  However that’s not the same type of action the caffeine in the redbull is intended to increase the performance of…

Secondly caffeine can help with your bodies ability to metabolize fuels whilst exercising.  This effect of caffeine is only relevant with long duration endurance events.  The body is able to use fat more efficiently as a fuel source with high dosages of caffeine so it can preserve its stores of carbohydrate for later on in the event.  As fatigue sets in and your competitors slow down you have more of your bodies preferential fuel source in reserve.  You are also able to slow your fuel consumption of carbohydrate as generally fat is not used as a dominate fuel source until much later on.

These results have been studied vigorously within the sport science world but are misinterpreted often by the general public wanting to emulate their sporting hero’s of whom they are told are consuming caffeine for increased at the elite level.

Caffeine has previously been a banned substance in many competitions but these regulations have generally been lifted.  As a result it has slowly become more and more popular with sports such as AFL and Rugby Union.  Some athletes report cramps and other side effects due to the use of caffeine as caffeine is a dehydrating agent.

Dosage for is very relative in terms of performance benefits.  I feel it is very dangerous for the wider public to see these athletes using a widely available substance like caffeine flippantly.  I have witnessed the trickle down effect first hand after a few years ago a number of news stories were release of footballers using ‘NoDoz’ tablets when playing.  Every local level weekend warrior had a few tablets stashed away in there mouth gaurd case the next weekend and for the rest of the season.

My summary… I dunno!  This is a tough one.  You can’t ban a substance like caffeine, but encouraging it’s wider use for sporting enhancement could possibly lead to some very dangerous side effects with younger users.

I would love to know your thoughts.

8 thoughts on “Tuesday Newsday: Caffeine in Sport

  1. Ben London

    Athletes have been using caffeine in a bunch of different ways for as long as I can remember.

    Triathletes were using flat coke before companies like endura and the like came along with their gels and what not that are all now laced with high amounts of the stimulant.

    In bodybuilding circles, which I’m more familier with, the same goes with ECA (ephadrine, caffeine and asprin) combinations have been used for decades to cut fat and stay somewhat energetic when carb levels are at a bare minimum. Now obviously minus the ‘E’.

    Pre workout energy supplements, which range in caffeine strength from 200-400mg per serve which is the equivalant of up to 10 espressos are generally the loss leader for most nutritional companies.

    Banning caffeine would cost the sports industry millions of dollars regardless of health issues and I’m sure they’d fight it to the end.

    I personally see no problem with athletes using caffeine to enhance their abilities and endurance, banning caffeine would open the door to all kinds of products being scrutinized and banned like acai or anything that can give you a boost.

  2. Ben London

    Athletes have been using caffeine in a bunch of different ways for as long as I can remember.

    Triathletes were using flat coke before companies like endura and the like came along with their gels and what not that are all now laced with high amounts of the stimulant.

    In bodybuilding circles, which I’m more familier with, the same goes with ECA (ephadrine, caffeine and asprin) combinations have been used for decades to cut fat and stay somewhat energetic when carb levels are at a bare minimum. Now obviously minus the ‘E’.

    Pre workout energy supplements, which range in caffeine strength from 200-400mg per serve which is the equivalant of up to 10 espressos are generally the loss leader for most nutritional companies.

    Banning caffeine would cost the sports industry millions of dollars regardless of health issues and I’m sure they’d fight it to the end.

    I personally see no problem with athletes using caffeine to enhance their abilities and endurance, banning caffeine would open the door to all kinds of products being scrutinized and banned like acai or anything that can give you a boost.

  3. Luke

    So true Ben. And regulation would be almost as hard. I think education is really the only option. Do you see any hard in its use?

  4. Luke Post author

    So true Ben. And regulation would be almost as hard. I think education is really the only option. Do you see any hard in its use?

  5. Ben

    Hard to say about the harm, I saw an article the other day mentioning that caffeine is the new superfood…and coffee is definitely not going anywhere.

    The long term effects of excessive caffeine are yet to be seen I suppose, this is really a newish phenomenon so it’s tough to say, but there are definitely side effects to over using the stuff.

    Irregular sleep patterns/tiredness
    Dehydration
    Develop intolerance

    In Canada and the US, you can buy super strong caffeine pills dirt cheap. I sold them in a gym I was managing and 75% of sales were actually to students that were’nt even members.

    Is it bad for your health? Who knows…but poeple will do almost anything to gain an edge in sports and at least this one is legal. (for the time being)

  6. Ben

    Hard to say about the harm, I saw an article the other day mentioning that caffeine is the new superfood…and coffee is definitely not going anywhere.

    The long term effects of excessive caffeine are yet to be seen I suppose, this is really a newish phenomenon so it’s tough to say, but there are definitely side effects to over using the stuff.

    Irregular sleep patterns/tiredness
    Dehydration
    Develop intolerance

    In Canada and the US, you can buy super strong caffeine pills dirt cheap. I sold them in a gym I was managing and 75% of sales were actually to students that were’nt even members.

    Is it bad for your health? Who knows…but poeple will do almost anything to gain an edge in sports and at least this one is legal. (for the time being)

  7. Luke

    Dangerous thing I think is that everyone will do everything for that edge. Does that extend to other drugs that there currently is no testing protocol for such as human growth hormone in the past? I think we would be naive to think that this is not the case given athletes are so willing to push the limits of legal ‘supplements’.

  8. Luke

    Dangerous thing I think is that everyone will do everything for that edge. Does that extend to other drugs that there currently is no testing protocol for such as human growth hormone in the past? I think we would be naive to think that this is not the case given athletes are so willing to push the limits of legal ‘supplements’.

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