Pre-Workout Caffeine to Get Stronger, Faster, Bigger and More Powerful

A new study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research indicates that the immediate ingestion of caffeine (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) prior to resistance training:

  1. Reduces the level of muscle fatigue and,
  2. Preserves leg power throughout the training session,
  3. With zero increase in muscle damage

Which is awesome if you are interested in getting stronger, faster, bigger and/or more powerful.

In the study, six male handball athletes ingested placebo (PLA) or caffeine (CAF) (6 mg·kg−1 body mass) capsules on 2 different occasions. Sixty minutes after ingestion of the capsules, serum CAF levels were evaluated.

Thereafter, all participants performed a protocol of vertical jumps (VJs). The protocol consisted of 4 sets of 30 seconds of continuous VJs with 60 seconds of recovery between sets.

Blood lactate (LAC) and creatine kinase (CK) levels were determined before and after the protocol.

We found significant differences in serum CAF levels between PLA (0.09 ± 0.18 µg·ml−1) vs. CAF (6.59 ± 4.44 µg·ml−1) (p < 0.001).

Caffeine elicited a 5.23% (p≤ 0.05) improvement in the leg power compared with PLA. The CAF trial displayed higher LAC (p ≤ 0.05) compared with PLA (6.26 ± 2.01 vs. 4.39 ± 2.42 mmol·L−1, respectively) after protocol of VJs, whereas no difference in CK was observed between trials (p > 0.05).

These results indicate that immediate ingestion of CAF (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) can reduce the level of muscle fatigue and preserve leg power during the test, possibly resulting in increase in LAC. There was no increase in muscle damage, which indicates that immediate administration of (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) CAF is safe. Thus, nutritional interventions with CAF could help athletes withstand a greater physiological overload during high-intensity training sessions.

The results of this study would be applicable to sports and activities that require repetitive leg power.

What does this mean to you?

  • To properly follow the protocol used in the study, you need to ingest 6mg of caffeine per 1kg of body weight ( 2.72mg per 1lb of bodyweight)
  • There is approximately 100mg of caffeine in 1 cup of coffee
  • Which means that a 150lb trainee would need to drink 408mg or 4 cups of coffee before training….probably not the best idea if you don’t want to spend your workout in the bathroom.
  • The same caffeine-math applies to tea, Red Bull, 5 Hour Extra Strength Energy Shot (the strongest energy drink with 242mg of caffeine), etc..

As a result, you are going to need to purchase some caffeine pills if you want to take advantage of this caffeinated training boost.

And of course, not everyone’s GI tract is going to do well with all that caffeine.

BUT…if your gut is okay with a big dose of caffeine AND you’re looking to break through a training plateau, supplementing with caffeine immediately pre-workout could be exactly what you’re looking for.

ronnie coleman squat

NOTE: If you try this caffeine protocol, I would love to hear how it works for you. Feel free to contact me on Twitter or Facebook.

Reference

Celsius: The First Healthy Energy Drink?

What comes to mind when I say: ENERGY DRINK?

Personally…. I think of the idiot frat boys who live two blocks down the street from me who like to pound Red Bulls & vodka on a Wednesday afternoon and do stupid stuff on their skateboards

I also think of this article – Do Energy Drinks Improve Athletic Performance and Promote Weight Loss?

So….when the folks at Celsius contacted me about trying out some samples of their product, my initial & immediate response was to say “no thanks” and get back to work.

However….in their email, they mentioned that their product was “natural”. And when I think of “energy drinks”, I don’t think natural. I think chemicals and artificial sweeteners and the aforementioned idiot frat boys and gym rats and people who don’t give a crap about their health.

Which probably makes a ton of sense from a business perspective.

But what about us health & fitness geeks?

There are some afternoons when my energy is drained from long hours of work and my brain is having a tough time writing blog posts that don’t suck swamp water.

On days like that… I can really use a dose of liquid energy. But I want that energy drink to be healthy & chemical free.

So I checked out the Celsius ingredients:

As you can see, Celsius contains the 3 big “energy drink” ingredients – Caffeine, Taurine and Glucuronolactone.

However, unlike their competitors, Celsius also contains:

  • Ginger extract,
  • Green Tea leaf extract,
  • Your daily dose of Vit C and,
  • A whole whack of B Vitamins

Equally important to me were the ingredients that weren’t included:

Instead of that crap, Celsius sweetens it’s drinks with sucralose and/or stevia.

Based on all that, I decided to give up my afternoon espresso for a week to beta-test some Celsius samples.

And after seven days of taste testing…. and it turns out that I like this stuff.

  • It definitely gave me a mid-afternoon boost,
  • Without any jitteriness
  • It tasted pretty good – some flavors better than others
  • No afternoon coffee breath

Conclusion

Celsius markets to people who:

  1. Want the buzz of an energy drink,
  2. Is “proven” to reduce body-fat, and
  3. Is HEALTHY.

And while I’m not too blown away by the -100 calorie claim, I can honestly say that Celsius provides:

  1. A very un-jittery boost in energy,
  2. Tastes pretty darn good,
  3. Has a bunch of useful micronutrients
  4. Isn’t full of harmful chemicals

And because I love you guys so much, I talked the Celsius rep into doing a giveaway of a bunch of Celsius product. Stay tuned for the details.

Caffeine Makes You Crave Soda

Why do soda manufacturers add caffeine to their products?

  • According to the industry, it’s a flavor enhancer.
  • According to researchers at SUNY,  it’s because caffeine makes you crave their product, buy their product and drink their product.

And that sounds a little shady, doesn’t it?

The Science

Researchers hypothesized that “adolescents who repeatedly consume a new and unfamiliar drink that contains caffeine would like that beverage more over time, but that adolescents who drank an unfamiliar beverage without caffeine would show no change in their preference.”

To test that hypothesis, adolescents aged 12-17 visited the SUNY laboratory multiple times.

    • During each visit, they sampled an unfamiliar soda drink and rated their liking or preference for that beverage.
    • The sodas contained varying amounts of caffeine, and the caffeinated or non-caffeinated versions were varied across participants.

Results

  • Over repeated testing days, participants increased their liking of the soda with the highest levels of caffeine, whereas there was no change in preference for sodas with low or no caffeine.

Conclusion

Your craving for a Diet Coke has little to do with the taste….it’s the caffeine.

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Reference

Starbucks Trenta is a Breakthrough in Human Obesity

Starting May 3, Starbucks is finally getting serious about their commitment to America’s obesity epidemic.

After realizing that their 700 calorie Venti Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha wasn’t enough to push their customers into a higher obesity bracket, Starbucks executives committed an unprecedented amount of time and money into an attempt to create an even larger receptacle for their iced beverages.

And luckily for America’s gastric bypass surgeons, all of that time and money has paid off….with the creation of the new Starbucks Trenta.

  • The Trenta weighs in at a staggering 31 ounces
  • Is unfortunately being made available only for iced coffee, iced tea and iced tea lemonade drinks
  • Is 7 ounces or 29% larger than the current size champeen – the Venti (24 oz cold / 20 oz hot beverages)
  • Raises the calorie count of the Iced peppermint White Chocolate Mocha from 700 up to 904

Virtually ensuring that Starbucks will finally be able to challenge McDonalds for the title of Biggest Culinary Contribution to Worldwide Obesity.

Yay.

And just in case you can’t properly imagine what 31 ounces of iced coffee looks like, the fine folks over at the National Post have prepared the following infographic.

The Trenta is just slightly larger than the size of the average adult human stomach.

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But have no fear….after 3 or 4 Trentas, your stomach will stretch out to accomodate the increased volume.

Yay again.

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NoteSome of you may find it a tad ironic that while writing this post, I have been sitting in a Starbucks drinking a mug of Starbucks coffee (Verona to be exact). To be clear, I love Starbucks coffee. I love the baristas at my local Starbucks (Bloor & Bathurst). I just wish they would stick to making coffee and leave the belly-busting dessert drinks to McDonalds and Dairy Queen.

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Caffeine Gum Supercharges Your Workout

Want to get more out of your workouts?

Caffeine Gum may be the answer.

According to this study, chewing caffeinated gum during an interval sprint workout (4 sets of 5 sprints x 30 seconds per sprint) resulted in….

  • a 5.4% improvement in performance (mean power output),
  • increased testosterone production,
  • reduced cortisol production
  • and reduced levels of fatigue

Conclusion

Over the past few months, I have been cutting back on my consumption of coffee/caffeine as I found that my desire for coffee was morphing from a want into a need…..and I have no intention of becoming any more addicted to Starbucks than I already am.

However, for days when I want to perform at my best, chewing on some caffeinated gum seems to be a pretty harmless way to boost performance by 5%.

And 5% is more than enough to separate 1st place from 2nd place.

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Nutrition Myth Busted: Caffeine and Dehydration

For years & years, we have been told that caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, etc) are diuretics and that they dehydrate us and that they do not count towards those magic 8 glasses of water we are all supposed to drink each and every day.

And for years & years, I thought this was a colossal line of B.S.

And I was right.

According to this study & that study, there is no valid scientific support for the suggestion that consumption of caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle leads to fluid loss in excess of the volume ingested or is associated with poor hydration status.

Therefore, there would appear to be no clear basis for refraining from caffeine containing drinks in situations where fluid balance might be compromised.

So, the next time someone tells you that you shouldn’t drink coffee because it will dry you up like a California Raisin, send them over to Health Habits for a little book learnin’.

And once again, like those guys on the Discovery Channel, I declare this nutrition myth…BUSTED

myth-busted

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Does Coffee Make You Fat?

coffee

I just finished reading Why Diet and Exercise Fail…and I am ticked off.

starbucks IV addictTicked off because author Daniel Matthew Korn is making me re-think my morning cup of Gold Coast.

Korn believes that long term caffeine consumption, when combined with a typical Western Diet, is akin to throwing gas on your obesity bonfire.

Or, as Daniel says, “long term caffeine use, in combination with other dietary factors can contribute to lowering our ability to use our stored body-fat and interfere with our storage of nutrients”.

Why would coffee lead to obesity?

Theory #1

  • Long term caffeine use can lead to elevated stress hormones (ie Cortisol)
  • And heightened cortisol levels is associated with obesity

Theory #2

  • Chronically elevated cortisol levels results in increased feelings of hunger
  • And obviously hunger leads to eating and drinking more coffee and eating more food and…

Theory #3

  • Chronic caffeine use may interfere with your sleep patterns
  • And sleep deprivation is associated with obesity

Korn’s Conclusion

Chronic caffeine use contributes to obesity because:

  • it increases your level of stress hormones
  • which messes with your brain chemistry
  • and increases your hunger
  • causing you to eat more crappy processed foods
  • while you lay in bed tossing and turning because you can’t sleep

My Conclusion

As Korn mentions, there is very little research into the direct effect caffeine has on metabolism and obesity.

This leaves his theory open to attack.

I can hear the comments already – Association and/or Correlation is not Causation.

And they are right. Korn is making some assumptions.

And good for him. Out of these assumptions, researchers can design studies to test if caffeine has a direct effect upon obesity.

Until then, you can:

  1. Ignore his caffeine/obesity theory as unproven
  2. Or, test the theory on yourself. Sadly, that is the route I am taking…starting tomorrow.

Note: I will be reviewing the rest of Why Diet and Exercise Fail in an upcoming post.

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates

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Exercise Better with Coffee

For decades, endurance athletes have relied on caffeine as a performance aid. They claimed that a pre-workout cup of coffee helped them to push themselves harder and for longer periods of time.

And along the way, science has backed up that belief:

  • In 1979, scientists found that caffeine helped cyclists improve their performance by 7% during a 2 hour workout.
  • In 1991, cyclists dosed with 9mg of caffeine per kg of bodyweight were able to increase their endurance by 51%
  • In 1995, cyclists performing high intensity circuits were able to improve their endurance by 29% with a dose of 5.5mg of caffeine per kg of body mass.

Pretty good, right? The only problem is that no one really knew why caffeine improved athletic performance…until now.

Researcher (and cycling geek) Dr. Robert Motl has spent the last 7 years considering the relationship between physical activity and caffeine. Today, he has a much better understanding of why that cuppa Joe he used to consume before distance training and competing enhanced his cycling ability.

  • Early in his research, he became aware that “caffeine works on the adenosine neuromodulatory system in the brain and spinal cord, and this system is heavily involved in nociception and pain processing.”
  • Since Motl knew caffeine blocks adenosine from working, he speculated that it could reduce pain.
  • A number of studies by Dr. Motl support that conclusion, including investigations considering such variables as exercise intensity, dose of caffeine, anxiety sensitivity and gender.

The good doctors latest study “looks at the effects of caffeine on muscle pain during high-intensity exercise as a function of habitual caffeine use,” he said. “No one has examined that before”.

And what did they find?

  • Caffeine reduces pain during exercise.
  • Less pain means you can work harder.
  • Less pain means you can work longer.

The Science

The study’s 25 participants were fit, college-aged males divided into two distinct groups:

  1. Subjects whose everyday caffeine consumption was extremely low to non-existent,
  2. And those with an average caffeine intake of about 400 milligrams a day, the equivalent of three to four cups of coffee.

After testing their baseline aerobic fitness, Dr. Motl tortured his subjects with two monitored high-intensity, 30-minute exercise sessions.

  • An hour prior to each session, cyclists – who had been instructed not to consume caffeine during the prior 24-hour period – were given a pill.
  • On one occasion, it contained a dose of caffeine measuring 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (equivalent to two to three cups of coffee); the other time, they received a placebo.
  • During both exercise periods, subjects’ perceptions of quadriceps muscle pain was recorded at regular intervals, along with data on oxygen consumption, heart rate and work rate.

The Results

Obviously the most important result was that caffeine reduced the pain of intense physical activity. But Dr. Motl also found that when it came to the reduction of pain, “caffeine tolerance doesn’t matter”. Caffeine-junkies and the herbal tea drinkers received the same pain reducing benefit from their little caffeine pill.

So, what now?

Dr. Motl wants to see what effect caffeine’s pain-reducing abilities has on sport performance.

“We’ve shown that caffeine reduces pain reliably, consistently during cycling, across different intensities, across different people, different characteristics. But does that reduction in pain translate into an improvement in sport performance?”

Interesting question for sure, but I am way to impatient to wait for science to catch up to real life. If you’re like me, check out this list of caffeine based beverages and let’s get physical.

Reference

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