Sports nutritionist Will Girling reveals how caffeine can be used to boost performance and endurance.
Coffee — the early morning brew and afternoon pick-me-up. But it can be so much more. It can be what spinach is to Popeye: a super-booster.
Packed with caffeine, coffee has been proven to increase endurance, peak power output and time-to-exhaustion by up to seven percent. Plus, if you combine some post-training caffeine with carbohydrates, that improves the speed at which you can replenish those depleted stores, which is hugely beneficial if you’re training twice a day or racing in an event spread over several days.
How and when to take on caffeine
Taking a caffeine hit 60 minutes before exercise ensures optimal absorption, but 15-30 minutes can be just as effective. It’s down to when you want it to kick in: from the get-go or a little way in.
Taking an additional hit mid-way will improve subsequent performance if you’re doing a prolonged ride.
How much caffeine do I need?
To really feel like you’re flying, the recommended dose is 3-6mg per kilogram of bodyweight, but there will be no additional effects if you take over 6mg.
How much caffeine is in coffee shop coffee?
In the major coffee shop chains not all coffee is equal. Here’s what you’ll get based on a standard cappuccino (the trend is similar across the other types available).
McDonald’s – 71mg
Starbucks – 75mg
Caffè Nero – 80mg
Costa – 185mg
Drink instant? A scoop of TrueStart instant coffee provides 95mg.
Not in the mood for a cup of joe? Caffeine chewing gum or tablets can give you a hit too. Try Elite, which supplies Team Sky with its caffeine alternatives.