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  1. #1
    PK-V's Avatar
    PK-V is offline Productive Member
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    Dec 2009

    Arrow Debunking the Coffee Before Exercise Myth!

    Debunking the Coffee Before Exercise Myth!

    By Robbie Durand, M.A.

    Senior Science Editor

    Jules: Mmmm! Goddamn, Jimmie! This is some serious gourmet shit! Usually, me and Vince would be happy with some freeze-dried Taster's Choice, but he springs this serious GOURMET shit on us! What flavor is this?

    Jimmie: Knock it off, Julie.

    Jules: [pause] What?

    Jimmie: I don't need you to tell me how fucking good my coffee is, OK? I'm the one who buys it. I know how good it is. When Bonnie goes shopping, she buys SHIT. I buy the gourmet expensive stuff because when I drink it, I want to taste it. But you know what's on my mind right now? It AIN'T the coffee in my kitchen, it's the dead bodies in my garage!!

    Memorable Quotes from “Pulp Fiction”

    There is never a better time for coffee than when two gangsters show up with a dead body in your garage, but there is a trend that I see occurring when I go to the gym and I see coffee cups all over the gym. Unfortunately I have to be the messenger of bad news: you are not going to get the same performance-enhancing effects of caffeine from coffee as you would from NoDoz or VIVARIN. Also, a RED BULL or MONSTER energy drink is not going to cut it either, as the dosages in both are low for performance enhancement.

    Previous studies investigating the effects of caffeine on sports performance has yielded beneficial effects in high-intensity activities such as swimming, sprint cycling, team-sports performance, and exercise to exhaustion. Notice that I say caffeine, not coffee! Exciting news regarding caffeine that in a recent meta-analysis published in Medicine in Sports and Science and Exercise is that when 34 peer-reviewed scientific studies were investigated, the conclusion was that caffeine improves maximal voluntary contractions in muscle.1 The meta-analysis reported that caffeine appears to improve maximal voluntary contraction strength by ~7 percent.

    What people don't realize is that the studies reporting the beneficial effects of caffeine are much higher than a cup of coffee. The caffeine dose administered to subjects in research is typically 5-6 mg/kg bodyweight. This approximates four cups of brewed coffee for a 70-kg or a 154-pound individual, a relatively high dose that is twofold greater than the typical caffeine intake reported by adults in the United States. Imagine how many cups of coffee a beast like Jay Cutler would have to drink to get a performance-enhancing effect when he weighs over 300 pounds!

    Caffeine Not Coffee

    A huge misconception that many athletes have is the difference between coffee and caffeine. Coffee is not going to give you the same performance effects as caffeine (i.e., NoDoz or VIVARIN). So here’s an interesting piece of information for you on coffee versus caffeine in athletic performance. When runners were tested in time trial in a 10K run, subjects were given pure caffeine (4.5 mg per kg of bodyweight) or an equivalent of dose of coffee one hour before the time trial. The plasma caffeine concentrations were similar between the groups, yet the results were dramatically different.

    Amazingly, caffeine pills resulted in an improvement in endurance by 33 percent, decreasing run time from 41 to 32 minutes, while the equivalent dosage from coffee consumption produced no improvement at all. There are hundreds of chemicals in coffee; some may not be conducive to athletic performance. Don’t pay $4 for a cup of Starbucks when you can get a whole bottle of caffeine tablets for the same price and get more bang for your buck.

    The Science Behind Caffeine!

    Why is it some people can take a supplement containing caffeine and be wired out of their minds and others can fall asleep? It's all in the genes!! A single substitution in the gene coding for caffeine degradation causes some persons to be slow caffeine metabolizers, in which case they don't feel the caffeine-enhancing effects; others metabolize caffeine more rapidly, which causes a caffeine jolt. So don't blame the product, blame your parents for the genes!

    A previous study demonstrated that habitual caffeine consumption is related to these genotypes, which may explain the discrepancy in individual responses to caffeine’s physiological effects.2 Caffeine may also improve skeletal muscle function through increased force production. Caffeine especially seems to be beneficial for short-term high-intensity exercise, which is what bodybuilding is all about. The means by which a strength increase might result from caffeine ingestion could be by a direct effect on muscle (e.g., maintaining electrolyte homeostasis or enhancing sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release) or by an effect on the central nervous system (e.g., increasing motor unit recruitment).

    Most of the research on caffeine and performance has concluded that caffeine’s effects on high-intensity exercise are not due to increased reliance upon lipid utilization or enhanced motor unit recruitment, and are more than likely located outside the muscle fiber (i.e., the nervous system). Data in rats revealed improved run time to exhaustion, due to caffeine’s action as an adenosine antagonist. Adenosine is primarily an inhibitory chemical; caffeine blocks the actions of adenosine.

    Several animal studies show that adenosine acts on specific receptors to induce sleep. These adenosine receptors are scattered throughout the body and brain. A recent study on cats— renowned sleepers— pinpointed one arousal network and confirmed that adenosine is a natural sleep inducer. The scientists have found that natural concentrations of adenosine build up in parts of the brain system during the cats' waking periods and cause them to fall sleep. Caffeine works by binding to these adenosine receptors, and keeping adenosine from binding with its receptor. That's how caffeine keeps you awake. Adenosine also inhibits the release of most brain excitatory neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine, and may reduce dopamine synthesis. Decreases in dopamine have been linked to fatigue during exercise.

    Caffeine-induced attenuations in exercise exertion and leg pain have been reported during exercise. Caffeine ranks along with creatine as the one supplement that has consistently been shown to work. In a study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition Exercise and Exercise Metabolism, researchers reported that caffeine decreases pain during strenuous exercise. The researchers had subjects consume 5 mg per kg of bodyweight, and had them perform cycling exercise at 80 percent of their max VO2. Compared with the placebo pill, the caffeine group had a significant reduction in pain during exercise.

    This study is in agreement with a previously reported study that caffeine ingestion has a dose-response effect on reducing leg muscle pain during cycling exercise (i.e., the more caffeine a person took, the less pain they felt during exercise). Imagine how many more reps you could crank out if your could increase your pain threshold— but you are not going to reduce pain with a cup of coffee.

    It's no coincidence that many over-the-counter pain relievers contain caffeine. Caffeine has also been shown to reduce muscle soreness the next day. Researchers reported in the Journal of Pain that taking caffeine two days after a grueling bout of eccentric exercise reduced post-exercise muscle soreness and enhanced force production.

    The other study of interest this month on caffeine will benefit those bodybuilders who exercise in the heat. It was reported that caffeine, when combined with water and carbohydrate ingestion while exercising in the heat, maintained maximal voluntary muscle contractions despite dehydration. This may benefit those bodybuilders who work out in hardcore gyms with no air conditioning or who work out in the sun like Metroflex Gym in Arlington, TX. Most of the performance-enhancing effects of coffee come from its effect on revving up your nervous system. You can have the strongest muscle in the world, but if you're nervous system isn't firing— forget about it!

    Low Versus High Caffeine Consumption

    A previous study reported a small but significant improvement in muscular strength by ~2.5 percent when a caffeine-containing (2.5 mg per kg) supplement was ingested pre-exercise; however, much larger increases in strength were seen at larger dosages being ingested. Well this month's Medicine in Sports and Exercise gives you clear proof that you are not going to see the strength enhancements in the gym with low-dose caffeine. Researchers gave active healthy men either 2 mg per kg of bodyweight, or 5 mg per kg of bodyweight caffeine tablets and had them perform two bouts of 40 reps of maximal knee extension and flexions till failure. The researchers found that the high dose of caffeine— 5 mg per kg of bodyweight— improved multiple indices of performance versus placebo in the initial bout of exercise, yet the 2 mg per kg dose was not ergogenic in any case.3

    The data suggests that a relatively high (5 mg per kg bodyweight) but not low (2 mg per kg bodyweight) caffeine dose is ergogenic for maximal knee extension/flexion exercise. That’s equivalent to approximately 454 mgs of caffeine for a 200-pound male! So the next time you have a heavy workout, don't think that a cup of coffee is good for increasing brute strength— this is only going to come from a pharmacological dose of caffeine. Save the coffee for when gangsters show up at your house with a dead body!!!


    1. Warren GL, Park ND, Maresca RD, McKibans KI, Millard-Stafford ML. Effect of Caffeine Ingestion on Muscular Strength and Endurance: a Meta-Analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2009.

    2. Cornelis MC, El-Sohemy A, Campos H. Genetic polymorphism of the adenosine A2A receptor is associated with habitual caffeine consumption. Am J Clin Nutr, 2007 Jul;86(1):240-4.

    3. Astorino TA, Terzi MN, Roberson DW, Burnett TR. Effect of Two Doses of Caffeine on Muscular Function during

  2. #2
    Twist's Avatar
    Twist is offline "AR's Personal Trainer"
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    Apr 2008
    Very good thank you for the post.

    I wish there was a caffeine product that would have a 45minute half life... If I drink caffeine I can't eat or sleep for days!

  3. #3
    mick86's Avatar
    mick86 is offline Member
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    Jan 2008
    Fantastic post, well researched findings that have been explained very clearly. The testing methods are extremely sound here, meta-analysis of 34 peer-reviewed journals (or as they say scientific studies). Very credible research.

    Thank you very much for this information.

  4. #4
    tbody66's Avatar
    tbody66 is offline Anabolic Member
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    Nov 2004
    Yes, good stuff. I take caffeine tabs and wash them down with a cup of Gourmet Java myself.

  5. #5
    PK-V's Avatar
    PK-V is offline Productive Member
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    Dec 2009
    No problemo, I was asking myself the same question a while back and I finally found an article that answered my questions in black and white with out beating around the bush.

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