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In the sports supplement industry companies are constantly innovating new ways to increase our performance, enhance our repair and better our results. We have become interested in things like adaptogenic mushrooms, chromium picholate and DMBA. And this is great! It’s great to be at the forefront of research but it’s equally important to not lose sight of those things that have been around years that we know just work. The number one performance enhancing substance on the supplement market isn’t new, or even particularly exciting, it just works. Ladies and gentlemen, without any further ado I give you the one, the only, caffeine! Yes folks, caffeine. Caffeine for too long has not garnished the respect it deserves. I am here once and for all to set the record straight, if you’re serious about your training then caffeine deserves a place in your supplement regime, and your heart.
Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. The CNS system consists of your brain and spinal cord and it’s how your body sends messages to the rest of your body to perform a function. For example, if you want to move your leg, your brain will send a message through your CNS system to the correct muscle’s in your body to make that specific movement happen. Caffeine stimulates this process, making the information transfer more effective and efficient. Caffeine has a half-life of 3.5-5hrs, this is the time that you will notice most of the positive effects of caffeine. However, it can take up to 14hrs for caffeine to leave your system completely.
Caffeine has been a known performance enhancing substance for years, in fact up until 2004 caffeine was listed on WADA’s (world anti-doping agency) prohibited substance list for anything over 12mcg/ml in a urine test (equivalent of 600-800mg). So, you know it is the real deal. However, with greater understanding of how caffeine can be supplemented safety it was removed from the prohibited substances list. Which is great for us all because caffeine has a host of sport related benefits. Caffeine has been shown in multiple peer reviewed studies to have the following benefits consumed immediately prior to training;
Increasing your performance in the gym and your training intensity is beneficial regardless of your goal. If you’re trying to gain muscle tissue, then the increased volume and intensity will mean greater stimulus for your muscle to grow. If you’re trying to lose fat, then the better session will increase your calories you have burned making it easier to get into a calorie deficit.
Caffeine also is a great aid in helping you lose body fat. Caffeine has been shown to:
Caffeine is a drug, and like any other drug it has its ups and it has its downs.
Caffeine is a stimulant, specifically that stops your bodies uptake of adenosine. Adenosine promotes sleep and supresses arousal by slowing down nerve activity. The effect is heighted immediately after ingesting caffeine and will be less pronounced with time, but it can affect you in some capacity for up to 14 hrs after intake. It is also important to note that this side effect has different levels of severity in individuals. Some people can have caffeine and fall straight asleep, others may be affected for the full 14 hrs and only get restful sleep after caffeine has left the body entirely. The best bet is to play it safe and see how your own body reacts. Start off with a moderate serve in the morning (around 8 or 9am) and see if this affects your sleep cycle. You can keep making your intake later in the day to find where your natural sweet spot is (for most people it’s around 6-8 hrs before trying to fall asleep). It is very important not to compromise sleep quality as adequate sleep is vital to achieving any health and fitness goal.
Caffeine will increase blood pressure so it is recommended that people with already high blood pressure steer clear of concentrated caffeine supplements.
The US FDA concluded earlier this year that daily intake up to 500mg of caffeine does not have negative health effects. In fact, they concluded that up to this level of caffeine intake is associated with positive health benefits. For the best performance enhancing benefits take it immediately pre-workout (or as close to your session as you can without interfering with sleep quality) and play around with any daily dose up to 500mg and find a level that works best for you.
If you want to increase performance, lose more body fat and have more energy, then incorporate caffeine into your supplement regime. Just be careful with your dosage and find something that really works for you!
Author Alexander Jeffs Muscle Coach Supplements National Sales Manager