The relationship between caffeine and weight loss is a hot topic, and one which people have lots of questions about. Most of us adults consume caffeine every day in some form such as coffee, tea and energy drinks. On average, our daily intake is two cups of coffee – that is roughly 200mg. To understand how caffeine affects our nutrition and fitness we must first understand a bit more about it. Now, caffeine is classed as a drug, and also a food additive – it comes from many different plants, including tealeaves, coffee beans, cacao and kola nuts, used in the production of cola and chocolate.
There is such a coffee culture nowadays, so many people take it for granted as part of daily life. But, when it comes to our fitness goals, is caffeine a positive or a negative?

Affects on The Body

Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant, which means it stimulates the central nervous system and causes vasodilation – the dilatation of blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure. Basically, it can make your heart beat faster and raise your blood pressure, which facilitates easier breathing. Our bodies process caffeine by absorbing it in the stomach and small intestine, and then metabolising it in the liver. Its effects are different for everyone, but caffeine can have an impact on our bodies for up to six hours after absorption. You can start to feel these effects just half an hour after consumption.

Exercise

performance
Caffeine can be considered to have a positive role in health and fitness, especially in endurance sports such as cycling – a moderate amount of caffeine has been shown to increase speed and improve performance. Caffeine can benefit strength training also, by enhancing muscular endurance and improving blood flow those muscles. Researchers found that cyclists were able to ride further in the same period of time, with an improvement of 4 to 5 percent. Athletes doing strength training, also saw an improvement in performance on equipment such as a chest press, or Wingate test.

Circulation and Metabolism

When someone is not a regular coffee drinker they can experience a temporary 30 percent boost in blood flow after consuming caffeine. This blood flow carries oxygen to muscles which leads to increased performance. Because caffeine stimulates the nervous system, it can also effectively help to break down fat. Athletes who consume caffeine before exercising often burn more calories, at only 4.5mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight.
In summary, caffeine can be seen as a positive when it comes to health and fitness, however like with everything, moderation is the key. It is paramount that athletes stay within recommended safe levels of caffeine consumption, in order to avoid side effects such as rapid heartbeat and muscle tremors.
See you down the café, then the gym!