Caffeine, a substance we all know and love, but what is it and how exactly does it work inside the body? Caffeine is a natural stimulant commonly found in coffee, tea and cacao plants. 80% of the worlds population consumes Caffeine each day to increase energy, reduce fatigue, and improve concentration and focus!
How does Caffeine work? Once we drink a caffeinated product, the Caffeine is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, the Caffeine will travel to the liver where it is broken down into compounds that can affect the function of various organs, however Caffeine’s main effect is on the brain. Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired. Adenosine levels build up over the day, making you increasingly tired, we are all familiar with the 3pm slump! Caffeine comes to the rescue by connecting to adenosine receptors in the brain without activating them. This blocks the effects of adenosine, leading to reduced tiredness and increased energy and focus, win! Caffeine can also improve our mood by increasing blood adrenaline levels and increase brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. This stimulates the brain and promotes a state of alertness and focus. Caffeine tends to work quickly, while individual results may vary, most people can feel the benefits in under 20 minutes.
What about Caffeine and athletic performance? Well, Caffeine is a go-to supplement for many athletes. Studies have shown that Caffeine can increase endurance in athletes. In one study, athletes were able to cover 2–3.2km more than the placebo group. In another study based on a 1,500-meter run, athletes who consumed Caffeine pre run were 4.2 seconds faster than those who did not. Various studies have also established that Caffeine can reduce the perception of effort, allowing athletes to work harder for longer. Caffeine is also useful for athletes because it can trigger the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight or flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism is useful for athletes as it can lead to faster response times. Caffeine may also spare muscle carbohydrate stores, primarily due to increased fat burning as Caffeine can increase the body’s ability to burn fat, this can enhance endurance performance. Caffeine may also impact the motor cortex, which is a part of the brain that signals muscle activation with studies showing Caffeine can improve maximal exercise performance.
All sounds promising right, but how much should we take and how much is too much? Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) consider a daily intake of 400mg of Caffeine to be safe. That said, it is worth noting that this is a daily intake recommendation, not a single serve recommendation. It is recommended to limit the amount of Caffeine you consume at one time to 200mg. Extreme Pre Workout contains exactly 200mg per shot in order to maximise the performance benefit. If you are new to pre workout or not a tea/coffee drinker consider drinking half an Extreme Pre Workout and assess how you feel.
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