Coffee and Rowing

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."

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.

A few points by Nancy Clark::

Moderate intake of coffee does NOT dehydrate.

Caffeine improves endurance performance (by as much has 12%) and lowers perceived exertion

A more thorough review is offered here by Mark A. Jenkins, M.D. on his site SportsMed Web.

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:

  1. "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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Be prepared to accept the consequences if your urine test is above the current cutoff."

Coffee drinkers (worshipers?) weigh in on the benefits of the sacred brew in the comments section.

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