Considered to be one of the most widely used drugs in the world, caffeine is consumed daily in coffee, tea, cocoa, and many other beverages and supplements. Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, heart and muscles.
A study done by the International Journal of Sports Nutrition in 1995 showed that caffeine demonstrated ergogenic effects on endurance exercises over one hour or high-intensity short duration exercises lasting roughly 5 minutes. Surprisingly there did not seem to be a noticeable ergogenic effect on performance of exercises with durations up to 90 seconds.
The most effective dosage of caffeine is roughly 3 to 6 mg per kilogram of body weight and ingested one hour before exercise. For example a 60kg female (132 pounds) would ingest roughly 180 mg to 360 mg of caffeine while a 90 kg male (200 pounds) would ingest roughly 270 mg to 540 mg of caffeine. For those java drinkers out there, just to give you a point of reference, an average 16 ounce cup of black coffee ranges from 200 mg to 350 mg of caffeine depending on the type and brewing process of the coffee.
Please keep in mind when calculating daily intake of caffeine, there are many other items that contain caffeine such as: Coco, Cola Nut, Guarana and Mate.
A popular way to enhance your workout is to have a pre-workout drink. Most pre-workout drinks include high doses of caffeine, along with a cocktail of herbs, stimulants and other ingredients. For example, Beta Alanine, one of my personal favorites which I will go into detail at a later time, Beta Phenylethylamine , Taurine, Tyrosine and Yohimbe, that have similar, if not stronger effects.
As with most things that we love and can be good for us, they usually have downsides. Some of the potential negative effects of caffeine include:
anxiety, chest pains, convulsions, diuresis (increased urine production) headaches, insomnia, irregular heart rhythm, nausea, nervousness, rapid heart and breathing rates.
The Mayo Clinic considers 200 -300mg “a moderate average daily dose” and a 500+mg a “heavy daily dosage”.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) classify caffeine use as:
Low to Moderate = 130 mg – 300 mg per day
Moderate = 200 mg – 300 mg per day
High = > 400 mg per day
It is estimated that the average daily caffeine consumption among Americans is about 280 mg per day, while 20% – 30% consume more than 600 mg per day. The top three sources of caffeine in adults are coffee (70%), soda (16%), and tea (12%).
Sources: International Journal of Sports Nutrition, Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, National Academy of Sports Medicine, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, American Medical Association