Caffeine pre-workout Study
Even with a wealth of current research and literature backing the claims that caffeine is a good pre-workout supplement there are people who disagree with its usage and/or disagree its effectiveness. So we decided to a small research study like many before us to see what if anything we could find. But before we do that let us have a brief over view of caffeine:
Caffeine has long been known to be a stimulant and is used in nearly all forms of pre-workout and energy type drinks. Most companies now going for a more natural form of caffeine as to try and look more safe and green, however regardless of what form of caffeine you take in you take it in like anyone else have it in synthetic form.
Natural forms of caffeine you may see on the back of a drink/food.
Coffee plant seed
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system (CNS), which improves focus and prevents drowsiness increasing alertness. Caffeine is found in a wide variety of foods and drink, 80% of us in the UK consume caffeine daily, with 90% of the Americans consuming drug daily, making it the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. Caffeine can physiologically stimulate the body and can prevent mental and physical fatigue, increases thinking processes and improving focus, the amount of caffeine needed to produce this depends on the person’s tolerance and size. There has been a wealth of studies backing up caffeine usage in improving performance in sports men and women, however it has to be said that this has been dosage dependent with higher dosages leading to rapid heartbeat, anxiety and a loss in athletic performance.
Improves cognitive function, increasing alertness and improving focus.
Improves athletic performance boosting both mental and physical attributes.
Lowers risk of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease (in correct dosages)
Speeds up metabolic rate.
Caffeine effect on weight loss is well summarized by David Brown -
Can become addictive.
May cause anxiety and dependence.
Increase heart rate
Increases blood pressure
High dosages reduce fine motor control.
High dosages are normally considered anything that is over 1000mg (1g) of synthetic caffeine, to put that in perspective most energy drinks are anything from 80mg-200mg per drink.
Overdose in highly unlikely, it depends on an individual’s tolerance but to be lethal a dosage of 150mg-200mg/kg is required. That would require for an 80kg person around 12,000mg within a 12-24 hour period that would be around 67 cans of red bull.
So now we have had a look at an overview of caffeine let us get on with our study, before we start we would like to remind people that have existing health conditions and other concerns should speak with a doctor before partaking in any dietary change to include regular caffeine usage.
20 individuals (12m/8f) all aged between 22-39 and have been involved with sport or exercise for a minimum of 4 years. We gave the participants a trio of tests after a 4 day rest from any strenuous activity, these tests were:
Push-up max (females could choose a knee down version)
Vertical jump test
The lateral jump and MSFT were nicely spread apart with the jump test being the first test, so now we had some lovely results to measure any results we would get from a caffeine pre-workout. In a double blind placebo study we got our participants back 4 days later and gave 3mg/kg of a caffeine tablet to 10 participants and a sugar pill to the other ten (that would mean a 80kg person would have got 240mg of caffeine, we waited 50minutes and then conducted the trio of tests again, here are the results we found:
We took the mean average of the participants taking the placebo and compared these to the caffeine group.
Push-up max test
This test truly shows some benefit taking caffeine in muscle endurance, the participants scored a massive 12 reps higher on average on the test, the placebo group also improved on average (that placebo effect creeping in). We will mention that only 1 of the caffeine group got lower in the 2nd test than in the 1st.
Vertical jump test
The results are clear that caffeine has given a boost to our participants in this test, causing an improvement of 4cm on average, this is an excellent improvement, there was no proof any placebo effect present in the placebo group for this test.
The graph has made this look more exciting than it really is, there is no real change in results, both groups have improved but the placebo group actually got more of an improvement, however it is safe to say that the improvements are negligible at best. Our study shows that there are no benefits in caffeine intake for maximal aerobic activity.
In conclusion to this study it is clear to see that there are real benefits to caffeine as an ergogenic aid in sport and training, the inclusion of caffeine in a pre-workout is probably necessary for most products. From this study we can infer that for muscle endurance and power caffeine at 3mg/kg is beneficial to performance however we found no real evidence that caffeine at this dosage has any real effect on aerobic performance compared to a placebo. However people have to remember that the effects of caffeine are dose dependent and just taking a big dosage does not mean big results, depending on tolerance build up results will differ. This being the case we would recommend that you keep your caffeine dosing to the gym and to try and refrain from intake on regular occasions. Caffeine has a half-life of around 5hours and may have a negative effect on sleep pattern, so those who train close to bed time may want to bear this in mind.
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