Caffeine is ingested every day in a modern society that is misinformed about it. So, mostly it is being misused for purposes related to health and thriving. Almost all groceries or convenience stores don’t miss the energy drink sections where much amounts are infused with caffeine products. Surprisingly enough, many people delve on caffeinated drinks throughout the day – of course coffee consumption through the day will supply enormous amount of caffeine into the body. The sad truth is that coffee is the choice beverage for the modern dotcom generation.

However, if you can use caffeine appropriately (methodologically and prudently), then it can be the core enhancer towards achieving your physique and performance goals.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine, belonging to the class of ‘methylxanthines’, is an organic and an alkaline molecule that produces attributes of central Nervous System (CNS) and heart stimulation. Classified under methylxanthines, it occurs naturally in tea leaves, coffee beans, some fruits and other groups of plants or food. The chemical naming of caffeine is ‘1,3,7-trimethylxanthine’ and some companies have used this nomenclature in their label instead of caffeine.

Mostly methylxanthines functions by inhibiting phosphodiesterase (PDE) and acetylcholinesterase enzymes (they are mostly enzyme inhibitors). Our body derives most of its performance benefits from PDE. PDE enzymes catalyze the breakdown of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) which are key cell messengers. So when PDE enzymes undergo inhibition, cGMP and cAMP levels will increase leading to rapid metabolism in the cells. This entire processes causes one to feel stimulated as a result.

What are the effects of stimulating the CNS (Overview)?

CNS is composed of the brain and spinal cord. Its function is to receive and send signals to every part of the body that is required to necessitate a function. PDE inhibitors or the CNS stimulants (e.g. caffeine) decreases the degradation of cGMP and cAMP upon their ingestion. This cause the body to go hyper or on ‘overdrive’ mode. The short term effects caused by this ‘overdrive’ mode are primarily;

  • Vasoconstriction
  • Psycho-stimulation
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Increased urination or excretion
  • Increased metabolic rate

Caffeine has a short half-life of about 3 to 6 hours which may need a proper timing to achieve an intended mission by the body. While some effects above may be beneficial, there are others that might be a burdensome to performance enhancement.

How does caffeine enhance athletic performance?

As established by many studies, caffeine have performance-enhancing benefits which is a resultant effect of body arousal through increase of bronchodilation and production of catecholamine. Users eventually feel hyped up on their training sessions while they experience a decreased rate of perceived exertion (RPE).

The urge to work harder and for long will increase the performance of a person, especially during this process of stimulation emission. This works for the better with the gym-goers because it adds up the value of their training such as more weights, volume, intensity and higher calorie expenditure. Physiologically, caffeine aids in thermic effects of food which allows for effective metabolism of fats and carbohydrates when one is exercising. A beneficial role of caffeine seems to accompany those seeking lose body fats due to that performance-enhancing role and increased capacity to perform work.

Bird’s view of caffeine benefits and drawbacks on a pre-workout

Caffeine is a good supplement for a pre-workout regimen, but it will require that you use it in specificity to the training plans. Take for instance, certain sport-specific skills may need precise motor coordination but caffeine use may hamper its intended purpose. While, bodybuilders on the other side may have much gain from caffeine as they look to building muscles.

If caffeine causes you to be jittery or anxious after consumption, then you ought to be cautious about it when you are about to participate sport events.

Four factors that mediate the ergogenic benefits exhibited by caffeine are; bronchodilation, catecholamine production increase, fatty acid oxidation increase and exogenous carbohydrate metabolism increase.

While, the side effects of caffeine are; jitteriness, nervousness, anxiety, irritability, dehydration and cramping and increased plasma cortisol levels.

Required Dosage for Caffeine

Caffeine is like a complicated drug or supplement. You can only use it efficiently by reducing the side effects it causes while optimizing its benefits. Research has contended the fact that caffeine dosage is related to an expected response when ingested before performing an exercise. And it establishes that excessive amount of caffeine taken is more likely to increase the side effects instead of benefits. Because there is no perfect dose for caffeine, one prudent thing for you to do is to find a ‘sweet spot’ dosage for yourself while you cycle its use to avoid addiction.

What is ‘sweet spot’ dosage?

This is a spot where an individual is likely to be sensitive to caffeine. The best dosage of caffeine according to the ‘sweet spot’ of many people is 1 to 3 mg per kilogram of bodyweight. On imperial system, 1 kilogram is equivalent to 2.2 pounds. So, athletes will require between 100 and 300 mg of caffeine before an exercise if they weigh 100 kgs or 220 lbs. Every one might be required to assess themselves on a level or concentrate of caffeine that they can tolerate – it is a form of trial-and-error approach of determining individual dosage. So, begin with the minimum recommended dosage as based on your bodyweight then increase proportionately if you have not felt the impact required.

Timing when to take caffeine

Basing caffeine taking on its half-life as aforementioned (i.e. 3 to 6 hours), you should take your pre-workout caffeine dose about 30 to 45 minutes before getting on exercise. If you train on an empty stomach the effects of caffeine are even as fast as 10 to 15 minutes after its consumption. If a trainee has taken a meal before the exercise, then he or she will take caffeine an hour or two hours later for its effectiveness. It will allow for digestion to be complete before it is metabolized to a stimulant action.

Is the source of caffeine the matter?

Caffeine being discreet, it does not matter whether it originates naturally through coffe, chocolate or tea or synthetic in form of energy drinks, powder, supplements or soda. The source does not make any bigger difference. One common caffeine supplement is caffeine anhydrous which can be bought from any store of health supplements. However, most pre-workout products and energy drinks have caffeine content as designed on their labels. Coffee lovers should note that a strong cup of black coffee delivers caffeine of about 200 mg.

Overcoming desensitization

The more you use caffeine the more likely you become less sensitive to its effects. This pushes you to increase or add the caffeine amount in order to achieve the benefits to perform. Some people even drink a pot of coffee and feel nothing going on or they get a very short energy burst and crash after 30 minutes.

One chosen medley of variables for overcoming desensitization is to keep off caffeine or any other stimulant for 1 to 2 weeks when you have a schedule to take it for 8 to 12 weeks. That is the baseline recommendation for this regimen.

Should you use caffeine?

Many research prove caffeine to be a positive product of the body especially for an athletic or for better physique, and therefore less argument is associated with this product. However most trainees need to be assessed on what amount of caffeine they take with an aim of making them achieve their goals. It will be up to the user to examine how they end up being affected by the caffeine.

It is also important to consult a physician before you begin your usage when you have been diagnosed with a pre-existing medical condition that may be sensitive to body systems. High doses of caffeine in such cases can be lethal and thus you need to be cautious about it.


This guide has provided you with a greater knowledge of how to optimize the usage of caffeine. Though, it is critically hard to recommend caffeine to any or most gym-goers, even when they simply do it on a weekend extra prep.