How to consume caffeine

Having once been a banned substance – before being allowed again in 2004 – there is still a prevailing perception that it can only hinder your athletic output.

But according to rugby nutritionist James Morehen, consuming 3-6mg of caffeine in liquid form per kg of your body weight prior to exercise will help improve performance for team sports athletes over the age of 18.

For you science fans out there, ingesting caffeine will also aid the mobilisation of fat from your adipose tissue and muscle cells, and stimulate the release of adrenaline – which, when it hits your central nervous system, will make you more alert and reduce the perceived feeling of pain or prolonged fatigue.

With this in mind, a cup of coffee in the morning and/or before training will give you a boost. Not only that but Morehen and fellow team members at Liverpool John Moores University say that caffeine ingestion before an afternoon nap is recommended. The rough time period for caffeine to take effect is 20 to 60 minutes, so ingestion before the nap will allow the ergogenic aid to do its stuff and ease you softly out of your nap before you wake.

Depending on the brand, 60g of dark chocolate will contain 10-50mg of caffeine but be careful – a 250ml can of Red Bull contains 80mg of caffeine. High intake isn’t advised for those under the age of 18. For adult athletes seeking an energy boost during the day, the recipe below is an ideal snack.

With creatine, you should be advised by qualified people,” says rugby nutritionist James Morehen, from Liverpool John Moores University. “But creatine is naturally occurring, and the phosphocreatine system helps provide muscles with energy.

“Supplements are just to top up and a loading phase of creatine can acutely boost your body’s stores.”

You can find creatine in red meat – which is why Morehen suggests those hoping to bulk up should eat red meat about twice a week, as it also contains large amounts of iron, B vitamins and minerals – but you’d need wheelbarrows of meat to get the same amount as from supplementing creatine.

During your pre-season, a load would be 20g of creatine per day, for a week. Then take between three and six grams per day for six to eight weeks. Come off it for a week to let your body wash it out.

Have you put on the required lean mass during the training block? If not, you may consider another loading then maintenance phase.”

Morehen says you need to factor creatine use into a well-balanced diet. But there are benefits to using creatine, despite an increased water retention. For example, its use can be strategically implemented to help maintain muscle mass in injured players who may have immobilised limbs and struggle to take strain.

However, you must ensure that any supplement you take is approved for athlete use. Visit informed-sport.com to find out more information.

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