I don't know about you, but for me, the day does not properly begin until I have had that first cup of coffee. Many people start their day in the same way — with caffeine — in order to get themselves going. Whether it be from coffee, tea, energy drinks or one of the many other sources of caffeine, some people depend on it to help them get going or keep going. How exactly does it affect the body in not only daily activities, but also while engaging in exercise? There is an extensive amount of research as to how the body is both positively and negatively impacted by caffeine. There is a lot of debate as to whether it helps or hinders physical activity.
So what exactly is caffeine and where do we usually encounter it? Caffeine is a drug known as a stimulant, which affects the central nervous system. It's found naturally in many plants, seeds and nuts. It is most commonly found in coffee beans. Caffeine's main food sources are coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate. You may be surprised to learn that there are many hidden sources of caffeine; it can also be found in decaf coffee, non-cola sodas, chocolate ice cream, weight loss pills, pain relievers, energy water and alcoholic energy drinks.
There are many positive and negative affects associated with consumption of caffeine.
-Improves reaction time and concentration, especially during times of sleep deprivation
-Reduces physical fatigue
-Is thought to protect against diseases such as Parkinson's and some types of cancer
-Feeling jittery or shaky
-Difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep
Studies have shown that caffeine can be beneficial to a person engaging in high-intensity team sports and strength training and performance, because it appears to increase endurance. It has also known to increase alertness and concentration, which may be beneficial while engaging in exercise/sporting activities requiring intense concentration and/or hand-eye coordination. Caffeine has also proved to be helpful in preventing fatigue and therefore beneficial to help keep the workout going.
While there are arguably many benefits associated with caffeine consumption during exercise, there are also a number of negative factors to consider. During exercise, proper hydration is crucial to keeping the body going. Caffeine has been known to cause dehydration, which can not only hinder exercise, but can be dangerous. During exercise, proper hydration assists with regulating body temperature. Caffeine could potentially interfere with this process. It is also known to cause one to feel jittery and shaky, which may make it difficult to complete tasks during a workout and to stay focused.
It is not 100 percent clear whether caffeine is helpful during periods of exercise or if it does more harm than good. The amount of caffeine consumed, as well as the source of it, may play a huge role in determining how it will affect performance.