Of all the supplements available nowadays only two have a firm foundation of scientific support, one of these supplements is creatine and the other is caffeine.
Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it speeds up bodily processes. The effects of caffeine include heightened concentration, faster reaction times and higher endurance levels. Caffeine also speeds up the body’s metabolic processes, which means that fat will be oxidised at a higher rate. It acts as an appetite suppressant, contains anti-oxidants, and numerous studies assert that moderate caffeine use is safe.
It is the extra endurance and metabolism boost that we are most interested in for our fat loss purposes. Simply put, if you can run for 30 minutes on a treadmill under normal conditions if you take a dose of caffeine you will be able to run for longer. The stimulant effect delays the onset of fatigue and is also thought to provide a mild lactic acid buffer.
While endurance athletes most often use the drug it can also be of use in the weights room to give you a mental and physical boost.
The way to use caffeine as a performance enhancer is to drink one cup of coffee or take the equivalent in caffeine pills thirty minutes before exercise. Personally, I’ve tried pills and cups and prefer the effect of drinking a cup as I feel the effects are more pronounced, but some who don’t like the taste may want to use a pill. To get the most benefit from the drug, use it only for exercise purposes and cut it out during the day. If you are a regular caffeine user and you want to try using it for exercise you might want to quit for a week before you start in order to lower your resistance to it. If you find yourself becoming tolerant to the effects gradually increase the dose by ½ a cup. It’s also best to cycle caffeine so use it for a few weeks then cycle off for a few weeks. A ratio of 1:2 on/off would be wise.
Now the drawbacks, caffeine is a diuretic meaning it will cause the body to lose water and dehydrate. For this reason, you must take in extra water before, during and after you exercise sessions. Aim for around 600ml or a standard drink bottle of water for every cup used. Remember that you should be drinking like a fish anyway so this amount is on top of the recommended 3 litres a day plus 1 litre per 30 mins of exercise. Caffeine also inhibits iron absorption and tends to leach calcium from bones. If your iron and calcium intake is adequate moderate use is perfectly safe. It may be best to separate your iron rich foods and you caffeine dose apart by a few hours. Another concern is that caffeine will raise your heart rate and therefore should not be used during exercise by people who are overweight, have high blood pressure, heart murmurs, high pulse rate or any other abnormality of the cardio-vascular system. I think people who are overweight should do cardio without drugs, as the fat will drop off just fine. Fat comes off more easily for people with high body fat however when body-fat levels come down to around 12% the fat becomes more stubborn. This is where caffeine can be help to assist your body to burn those stubborn layers of fat that obscure your hard earned muscles. Remember that caffeine can inhibit the effects of creatine so it’s not a good idea to consume coffee during a creatine cycle.