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The ergogenic effects of caffeine

April 26, 2017

Caffeine is one of the most commonly used supplements for performance improvement. Studies published in the last decades show benefits of improved performance with doses varying from 3 to 13 mg per kilo of body weight.
Its ergogenic effect, although proven, still has a certain controversy regarding the mechanism of action. The initial proposal in the first published studies was that caffeine would promote fat oxidation, preserving muscle glycogen, which is considered the “gasoline” of exercise muscle.
This hypothesis is still widely accepted by many scholars, but other evidence has come more recently, mainly to try to explain why caffeine improves performance in short-term exercise, in which the use of glycogen is not the limiting factor of performance.
Another effect that has been considered is an action of caffeine in the central and peripheral nervous system, altering the so-called subjective perception of effort, increasing the capacity of the skeletal muscles to generate force.
A new study published in June this year in the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, researchers at the University of Mississippi in the United States studied this mechanism more deeply. Cyclic athletes were evaluated in a controlled protocol in which the ingestion of 5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight was evaluated one hour before the physical tests.
The researchers’ conclusions point to the following benefits:
– Caffeine increases strength by improving the recruitment mechanism of skeletal muscle motor units. We can understand that when the brain commands the contraction of a muscle, caffeine potentiates this command, resulting in a more vigorous contraction.
– Caffeine has an effect of reducing pain and reducing perceived exertion, promoting a performance-enhancing effect on short-term exercise.
These effects, according to the researchers, explain the effects of caffeine not only in long-term exercise, via fat oxidation, but also in anaerobic profile activities, in which the mechanism of force genesis is the determinant of performance