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.