You’ve probably heard of caffeine before, it’s the compound that stimulates your central nervous system and banishes fatigue (albeit temporarily) once you drink a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It is also present in tea, in chocolate, in caffeine pill form, and as part of top pre-workout supplements.
Caffeine works by blocking adenosine receptors, which are responsible for making you feel tired. It also stimulates adrenaline (also known as Epinephrine) release. This leads to a lot of the benefits of caffeine, but is also responsible for the downsides – which occur after chronic use (drinking lots of coffee daily).
Caffeine Anhydrous is slightly different from regular caffeine in that it is caffeine with all water removed. This makes it slightly more potent, but also makes it perfect for pre-workout powders. For the purposes of this article we will be interchanging the names as it really doesn’t matter which form you take.
Benefits of Caffeine
Caffeine has a beneficial effect on weight loss and metabolism, sports performance, and cognitive performance. It can also help wake you up after sleep, and has beneficial effects on the heart, while reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Studies have shown that taking caffeine can increase daily energy expenditure (metabolism) and also oxidise fat (burn fat for energy) . It is for this reason that many fat-burners contain high amounts of caffeine – in fact for most top fat-burners it is the only effective ingredient!
Caffeine has also been repeatedly proven to improve sporting performance, in both high intensity exercise  and in endurance events . It can also increase power, reaction time, strength, and lower the perception of effort (in other words make you think that something is easier than it is). For this reason, caffeine is often the main ingredients in pre-workouts.
While many people concentrate on the physical benefits of caffeine, much fewer bother about the mental side of things. But caffeine can improve focus, memory, decision making, and mood. It is for this reason that many students use caffeine pills when revising for exams. It is also why coffee is popular during meetings.
Caffeine is usually dosed at between 200-300mg for fat loss supplements, but is taken in higher doses for strength training. How much you should take is based on your body weight, a 60kg elderly woman is going to be more affected by 300mg of caffeine than a 120kg bodybuilder (unless her tolerance is very high). This is because the mg/kg would be much higher.
If you are looking to burn fat then around 3-4mg/kg of bodyweight is a good amount, but if you want to use it for training then this could increase to 4-6mg/kg.
Make sure that you assess your tolerance first using steadily increasing doses, because taking too much at one time can create some pretty bad side-effects.
Caffeine can increase blood pressure and heart rate, this is due to the release of adrenaline. Therefore if you suffer from high blood pressure you should be very careful with your caffeine intake. Taking too much caffeine can also result in much more extreme side effects, anxiety, panic attacks, or hallucinatory experiences can occur .
Caffeine really is a wonder drug, just make sure that you get the dosage right, if you are using it to train then taking it around 30-40 minutes before your workout (not including a warm up) should allow you to get maximum effect from it.
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 Wiles, J., Coleman, D., Tegerdine, M. Swaine, I. 2006. The effects of caffeine ingestion on performance time, speed and power during a laboratory-based 1 km cycling time trial. Journal of Sports Sciences 24(11): 1165-1171
 Burke, L. 2008. Caffeine and Sports Performance. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 33(6): 1319-1334
 Persad, L. 2011. Energy Drinks and the Neurophysiological Impact of Caffeine. Frontiers in Neuroscience 5: 116
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