Also over at the Rowing News Michelle Guerette has a blog, in which she discusses coffee today. This is probably worthy of a longer post soon, but her post caught my eye with the following:
"Studies show that caffeine can increase mental awareness, of course, but also show an increased permeability of muscle membranes, allowing muscles respond more intensely to a lower electrical impulse. In addition, caffeine promotes the body’s use of stored fat for energy before glycogen, which ultimately appears to aid endurance."
A few points by Nancy Clark::
In support of Michelle I would suggest that you have a look at the work of Nancy Clark, the Author of "The Athlete's Kitchen" and a well-known sports dietician. Her views on coffee are available at this site.
Moderate intake of coffee does NOT dehydrate.
Caffeine improves endurance performance (by as much has 12%) and lowers perceived exertion
Jenkins does point out that there is a limit beyond which caffiene becomes a banned substance - although "approximately 1000mg of caffeine (about 8 cups of coffee) would be required to exceed the current IOC limit."
With that in mind he does offer these recommendations for athletes:
- "Ingest caffeine about 3 - 4 hours before the competition. Although blood levels of caffeine peak much sooner, the maximum caffeine effect on fat stores appears to occur several hours after peak blood levels.
- Consider decreasing or abstaining from caffeine for 3 - 4 days prior to competition. This allows for tolerance to caffeine to decrease and helps ensure a maximum effect of caffeine. Be careful though, because some may experience caffeine withdrawal.
- Make sure that you have used caffeine extensively under a variety of training conditions and are thoroughly familiar with how your body reacts to this drug. Never try anything new on race day.
- Be prepared to accept the consequences if your urine test is above the current cutoff."