All You Need To Know About Caffeine And Body Composition

People Like Caffeine...

While not the world's most insightful observation, it holds very true! When I'm training clients in the in the gym, all I need to do take a look around the city every morning and almost half of the people you see will be holding a cup of coffee.

There’s a lot more to caffeine than just the excitatory and stimulative effects - just think about the social side of ‘having a coffee.’

Coffee is even the ideal first date - just hope they don't order a takeaway!

So let's look at some of the pros and cons, truths and falsities of caffeine intake that you might have heard.


Caffeine vs Coffee

There is a difference between the two, although people often consider them being mutually inclusive. Caffeine is the compound that does all the work by stimulating the central nervous system, elevating certain hormones and can improve performance. 

Coffee is the vehicle - it is what gets the caffeine into your system. There are other methods such as other alternative beverages and supplements. Energy drinks, cola and tea all contain caffeine in varying amounts (and quantities of sugar).

Anhydrous caffeine is the powder and pill variations of caffeine that you can buy at a chemist. These are often used when an exact dosage is required, particularly in sports and performance nutrition. This form of caffeine is also beneficial for stimulating the central nervous system without activating the bowel system, if you know what I mean...

NOTE: Be particularly careful with powders and measure correctly - extremely high caffeine does can be lethal!


Caffeine is Good Pre-workout

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, mobilises fatty acids for oxidation and decreases perceived exhaustion. These are all beneficial for body recomposition and performance goals. Best results occur with ingestion 15-60 minutes prior to exercise, depending on your goal and individual preference.

Caffeine is one of the most high-supported nutritional supplements for athletic performance. The Australian Institute of Sports list caffeine as a Group A supplement and it is used suitability with elite athletes. There are only four other performance supplements on this category, which goes to show the research for caffeine and sports performance!


Caffeine is Bad Post-workout

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Caffeine is a Diuretic, but Coffee Doesn’t Dehydrate You

This is where the difference between caffeine and coffee is vital. Yes, caffeine is a mild diuretic, which means it promotes the release of water. However, coffee intake will not dehydrate you. The water content of coffee mitigates the dehydration potential (which is mild, anyway).

Anhydrous caffeine has greater potential for dehydration, but if you keep fluid intake up there won’t be any problem. Elite athletes performing in hot climates - where dehydration has huge potential to impact performance – can still consume caffeine prior to (and often during) exercise.


The Half-life

Although caffeine’s effects peak 30-90 minutes after ingestion, caffeine is still elevated in the bloodstream for 4-8 hours post-consumption, depending on factors such as food intake, caffeine volume and individual variation. For this reason, be wary of ‘topping up’ by having too many coffees too close together. This can lead to anxiety and irritation. 

This is also why caffeine intake around 5pm can still impair sleep at 10pm or 11pm. However, caffeine intake at night won’t always get you awake, this will depend on individual variation and impact.

This all has to do with the half-life of caffeine. Half-life is the duration it takes for the compound to breakdown to half it's original level. At this point, the physiological impacts of caffeine are minimised. While caffeine may still be present in traces after this point, the impact will be minimal. 


How many per day?

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I Need a Cup!

Caffeine is a useful tool. However, just like any other tool, it is only effective when you know how to use it. Keep intake moderate and have periods of lower caffeine intake. Avoid building tolerance and reliance on caffeine, which is the same recommendations for managing other supplements with stimulatory effects