When the body cannot find enough glycogen (which is the form in which carbs are stored) within the blood, it will begin to break down your amino acids (protein), which, of course, happen to be the building blocks of muscles. Some of the by-products of the breakdown include urea and ammonia, so if you were to find a lot of those by-products in a sample of blood, it means that protein is being broken down.
However, by just taking 5 mg. of caffeine with every kilogram of your body weight an hour before your workout, the cyclists that were in the study avoided this breakdown.
The researchers theorized that taking caffeine raised blood glucose so that the working muscles would not have to feed off muscles. This was then confirmed by the increased levels in blood lactate, which indicates that glucose is being used as a fuel (instead of amino acids).
What the study did not focus on much, though, was the inevitable rise in energy experienced by the athletes who had taken caffeine, and I am not talking about the psychoactive effects caffeine has on the nervous system; everyone knows about that. I am talking about the increased energy from using glucose as fuel.
That alone, I assume, would be a great reason to use the caffeine strategy.
I probably do not need to mention that this study didn’t use strength athletes, but the principles should be the same, especially for those that are training HIT style or don’t, in general, take a while between sets. I also do not know if a strength athlete would require as much caffeine to reap the benefits.
After all, 5 mg. each kilogram equates to about 450 mg for a 200-pound weightlifter. A normal tall coffee or “Grande” from Starbucks has around 300 mg. and a hardcore energy drink has about 350 mg. of caffeine, so either will suffice.
If you weigh about 200 pounds or more, I would first try one of the aforementioned caffeinated beverages to see how they change my energy levels before I began messing around with even higher doses.
Author: Scott Dowdy