The Caffeine Advantage
From the bench press to the boardroom, everyone is looking for that ‘edge’.
that tip, trick or method to get ahead of their competition.
The focus required to maintain correct form and push out a new personal best on your bench press is synonymous with the focus required to study the market and pull the trigger on your buy order at the right time.
There’s a ton of supplements out there that won’t do a thing besides empty your pocket, while at the same time there’s both illegal and prescription drugs being pushed in office cubicles and the squat rack.
Yet many people dismiss one of the oldest, heavily studied drugs around – caffeine.
a cup of coffee, often considered part of a morning routine and nothing more can provide far greater benefits than one may think.
I recently picked up a copy of The Caffeine Advantage: How to Sharpen Your Mind, Improve Your Physical Performance, and Achieve Your Goals–the Healthy Way by
It’s not until you look at the sheer number of studies and research surrounding caffeine that you understand just what it’s capable of.
Here’s What I Learnt From The Caffeine Advantage
When it comes to consuming caffeine for a performance gain, be it a cognitive advantage or a physical feat on the field instead of popping a caffeine pill or chugging a strong black coffee there’s 2 factors we need to take into account for optimized performance:
- Your caffeine tolerance – more is no necessarily better! 100mg of caffeine is the point at which most people will begin to experience the reported benefits of caffeine, however those extremely sensitive to caffeine may find 100mg overwhelming and will begin to experience the benefits of strategic caffeine supplementation at 20mg, 40mg or 50mg.
- Timing. Caffeine is at full effect within an hour of consumption – time your caffeine dose, you don’t want to be metabolising the caffeine when you’re expected to be performing at your best because you supplemented with caffeine too late, the other extreme is also worth noting – don’t take caffeine hours before you require it – although the benefits of caffeine will be apparent for 3 – 6 hours after consumption you’re going to want to time it ideally within an hour of needing to perform.
- The law of diminishing return is apparent when it comes to caffeine supplementation – too little caffeine and you won’t notice any of the reported benefits, just enough caffeine and you’re going to be reaping all the benefits of caffeine supplementation. If you adopt the“I feel great with 200mg of caffeine, I bet I’ll feel even better with 400mg of caffeine!” mentality you’ll likely be disappointed.
We’ve all got an optimal dosage when it comes to the benefits of caffeine, and when you’re delving too far beyond this number caffeine supplementation can become counterproductive.Lack of focus, irritability, anxiety… all of these unwanted effects will result in diminished performance, not exactly what we want when we’re trying to harness the benefits of caffeine.
Caffeine And Overwriting Your Body Clock
When it comes to the mid afternoon in the office the majority of employees have hit the proverbial afternoon wall – their motivation, quality of work, personality and cognitive performance have all declined.
This is often due to lack of sleep, poor diet or lack of exercise – however that’s the topic of a future blog post.
Caffeine, when supplemented by a fatigued individual can bring them up to regular levels of performance once again, they won’t be flying ahead of the pack however caffeine will mask the effects of fatigue.
This is not a long term strategy, the root issue of poor diet, sleep and exercise must be addressed – but from time to time be it due to working on a large project or jet lag I find myself successfully obliterating the effects of fatigue with a strong coffee.
If you’re well rested, following a solid diet and getting regular exercise this is where the most noticable results of caffeine supplementation will be found.
In short, caffeine supplementation brings the fatigued individual back up to a baseline level, masking the fatigue meanwhile caffeine supplementation by a healthy, well rested individual will have them excelling in both physical and mental domains – assisting them to get ahead of the pack when used strategically.
Caffeine For Improving Mental Focus & Cognitive Abilities
Caffeine supplementation, when taken at your optimal level – this may be 50mg, 100mg or 200mg (as I mentioned this is a matter of experimenting as everyone is different) will induce a range of cognitive abilities.
Increased thought clarity, increased focus in the task at hand, increased self-confidence and willpower.
It comes as no surprise that writers are some of the biggest coffee drinkers out there.
In order to get maximum benefit when it comes to the mental and cognitive side of caffeine supplementation there’s a couple of important points to keep in mind:
- More is not necessarily better, do not go beyond your optimal caffeine dosage
- Your baseline arousal level will effect how well you benefit from the mental and cognitive benefits of caffeine supplementation – be focused and involved in the task at hand and utilize caffeine as an aid to improve your performance and keep you going, don’t just take a dose of caffeine and expect magic to happen when you’re not already actively engaging in your task.
- The well rested individual will only be brought up to baseline normal levels when it comes to the focus, reaction time, willpower and confidence associated with caffeine supplementation. Want all the benefits? Ensure you’re well rested.
Utilizing Caffeine For Increased Athletic Performance
Increased athletic performance is the most commonly associated benefit when it comes to caffeine.
From the army to the powerlifting gym, caffeine is used to increased a number of physical performance factors.
Here’s what you can expect when it comes to supplementing with caffeine for athletic performance…
- Improved endurance over long term exercise (think distance running)
- Improved speed and power in short term exercise (think powerlifting)
- Increased maximum output and endurance (this is why caffeine is the primary stimulant in many pre-workout drinks!)
- Faster reaction time (fantastic benefit for those that play ball sports)
- Increased lung capacity
Caffeine And Cutting (Weight Loss)
If you’re on the path of weight loss, be it to lose a few excess pounds or to take your good physique to the level of greatness caffeine can be a great aid.
- Caffeine decreases your appetite – making the reduction in calories that much easier, reducing the risk of overeating and binging
- Caffeine increases your performance in the gym and on the field, allowing you to burn more calories and build more muscle as a result of you the increase in your training intensity when it comes to your workouts
- Caffeine increases the speed of your metabolism, allowing your body to burn more calories when in a sedentary state – this makes inducing a calorie deficit (the key to fat loss) that much easier