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        Refuel the Easy Way! Blog — Caroline Allen

        The Scoop on Caffeine

        There are many options to consider for your nutritional regimen when training and racing. One common question is whether or not to incorporate caffeine into your nutrition plan. You may get caffeine from your favorite brew, but you wonder if you should also have it in your nutritional supplements? Some products on are available with caffeine: for some athletes, caffeine is a must-have, but for others it’s not the best idea. Read on, to find out the facts and fiction on caffeine.

        The caffeinated buzz. 

        There is evidence that caffeine increases alertness, fights fatigue and improves physical endurance and strength. It stimulates bodily tissues and the brain. Caffeine can boost energy levels during a run, ride, hike or swim, and make you faster, meaner and stronger! Blood concentrations of caffeine peak 45 to 90 minutes after ingestion and it can take over 2 hours for levels to decrease. Miniaml dosages of 60 milligrams of caffeine per hour of exercise are required, and coffee-lovers probably need more than 200 milligrams an hour since the body gets used to its effects over time. If you choose caffeinated supplements, keep doing so througout a competition or event to avoid the caffeine slump…

        According to Health Canada, intake of less than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day causes no harm to health (nevertheless, the daily limit is set at 300 mg for pregnant and breast-feeding women). Although the International Olympic Committee allows for caffeine use, it maintains surveillance of its abuse in athletes. There is a downside to indulging in too much caffeine : daily intakes of more than 450 mg can cause nervousness, hypertension, irritability, anxiety, dehydration and disturbed sleep in athletes. Studies show that half of us have a genetic sensibility to caffeine (as predicted by our DNA), whereas the remaining 50% of individuals will remain insensitive to it and feel no difference. Keep in mind that individual tolerance will vary, so be careful to assess your reaction to it.

        Here, there, everywhere? 
        Food sources of caffeine are coffee (120 to 180 mg per 8-once cup in drip/filtered or percolated, 75 to 100 mg when instant and 90 mg for espresso), tea (30 to 50 mg a cup), cola-type soft drinks (35 to 80 mg in a 355 ml can) and chocolate (45 to 100 mg per 50 gram piece). Some natural products and beverages can hide caffeine under a mystery alias : guarana, kola nut or yerba mate. Caffeine content in supplements may vary, going from nil to 50 milligrams per serving (refer to the nutrition tables for each product). Note that most gels, chews and bars have very little caffeine (unless otherwise indicated), however some brews and electrolyte drinks will contain higher doses of this precious potion.

        As you can see, caffeine is not the make- or break-all in the athletic arena. The decision to opt for the caffeine kick or go without remains a question of personal preference, in your search for the gold! Train hard, eat right and consider a coffee break!!!