Wake Up & Drink that COFFEE!

When I recently visited my sister in her new home, Cali, we visited an adorable coffee shop. On the side of the building while holding our hot cup of java it stated, Coffee helps those who sleep little and dream a lot…” Nobody else better comes to mind than the fellow student athletes I help. (Not to mention the whole #FuelinOU team, we put Loralie Gilmore to shame with our caffeine consumption).

As a former student athlete I get it. Team meetings, mandatory workouts, atop an already busy student schedule- sometimes the first thing that may suffer is the much needed sleep. 6 am lift, class, and team practice already fills your day. Stuffing  bags with snacks will hopefully remind the athletes to be properly fueled for practice (but that is for another future post!). Therefore, some athletes may turn to energy drinks, or better yet coffee. This becomes part of their regular routine: insert caffeine to help those achieve the big dreams. Rome was not built in a day, and neither does a national champion student athlete or team. It is hard work from the coaching staff, support staff, mentors, as well as the disciplinary hard work from the student athlete(s) . In my own opinion, I like to think the secret glue that lead me to achieve all my success was in that styrofoam 20 oz Pennsylvania State Creamery cup: coffee with fresh milk from the dairy cows standing on the PSU’s Hospital front lawn.

If clients asked me about coffee or their caffeine consumption, I always stated if you respond to it, don’t over do it… but is safe to consume. The Dietary Guidelines of America states that consuming over 400 mg can cause headaches, anxiety, poor sleep, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and restlessness. If you are experiencing these symptoms, please don’t order a venti from our beloved Starbucks… maybe this would be a great time for a power nap!


Anyways, my point of the article was to discuss caffeine use and athletes! Caffeine is an ergogenic aid and it’s use is to improve endurance performance and to delay fatigue. This is the reasoning behind many studies conducting research on runners, cyclists, and cross-country skiers. (Nothing seems better than the power of caffeine while logging in endless miles!).

The ergogenic benefit of caffeine is likely due to its role on the central nervous system. When stimulated the results is a decreased perception of effort. However, from my recent stay in Indianapolis for the CPSDA conference, this does not happen the same for all individuals. Like creatine, caffeine only works for select individuals with the gene. Having 3 – 6 mg per kg of body weight is effective in decreasing the perceived fatigue. Higher doses does not automatically improve performance, as stated earlier, too much caffeine can increase heart rate- which is something no athlete wants or needs to improve their performance! Nanci Guest presented during the conference on caffeine. Her research on caffeine use of 2 – 4 mg/kg shows a 3% improvement for endurance athletes. Guest suggests consuming the caffeine 1 hour beforehand… however again this is trail.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you a responder to caffeine? (Do you notice you are alert, can be jittery if you drink too much…)
  2. Does 1 cup of coffee provide you enough energy (~300 mg)?
  3. How long does it take you to feel the effects?

If you know that you need 2 cups of coffee or 1 Red Bull or 1 caffeine chewing gum (thank you Nick Symmonds) to get you going and you feel the effects after 80 minutes after consuming, this provides you a great baseline of how to make a game plan of you workout. Ingest that caffeine 80 minutes prior to when you will start feeling fatigue and see if this improves your workout or race! Or….. find out if you are a responder by going into a lab! But if you hardly have time for sleep, making up your own scientific study can still be very helpful!

It is also import to note that urinary caffeine levels exceeding 15mcg/mL would lead to a disqualification from the NCAA (this is for you college student athletes!). 

Do you have any questions? Please comment below!!!!

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