Effect of Caffeine on Athletes During Endurance Sports

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The Effect of Caffeine on Athletes during Endurance Sports

Caffeine is a mild stimulant that is found naturally in at least 63 plant species.  Caffeine can be found in the leaves, stems, seeds, and roots of these various plants. It is also part of the methylxanthine family. Caffeine consists of a xanthine molecule with three methyl groups attached to it (Wikipedia).  Caffeine can be found in many products like sodas, tea, and coffee, but it also occurs in several other products such as prescription medications, diuretics, and pain relievers.

Caffeine is a common substance in the diets of most athletes. It is now appearing in many new products, including energy drinks, sport gels, alcoholic beverages and diet aids. It can be an effective ergogenic aid and could be beneficial in training and in competition. Although caffeine does not improve maximal oxygen capacity directly, it could allow the athlete to train at a greater level of power and it could also allow the athlete to train longer. These effects have been found in activities that last as little as 60 seconds or as long as 2 hours. Research has shown that caffeine has shown signs of enhancing endurance and creating a higher resistance to fatigue for athletes. Every individual’s body could have a different reaction to caffeine in the body. This is why it is very important to remember that caffeine can provide negative effects on a athlete’s body just as well as positive effects.

Research on anything entering one’s body is very important. Reactions to food, drugs, and chemicals vary greatly among each individual. Therefore, one should find it imperative to have knowledge on every possible effect that something could have on one’s body. Athletes, in particular, should find it very important to know the effects of anything they are consuming. An athlete’s body is in constant training and the performance of an athlete’s body always depended on greatly.

The central nervous system plays a great role in the performance of an athlete. The nervous system must be at its peak level in order to compliment the training that an athlete has been practicing. Caffeine can be found in many different common food products. Since caffeine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, athletes must be well informed on all the side effects that caffeine can have.

Another reason why the importance of research on caffeine is important is because information is constantly changing. Every study is proving something new or completing proving another study wrong. Since studies are being updated frequently, it is important to keep one’s knowledge current in order to make educated decisions on whether to consume a product or not.

Caffeine has many specific benefits for different types of athletes.  Though much of the research on caffeine in athletics is inconclusive, there are many athletes that believe the substance can enhance their physical as well as mental performance.  It is believed that caffeine can improve the athlete’s endurance in sports where long-term stamina is needed (Harvard Women’s Health Watch 2-4).  These sports include cycling, running, soccer, and competitions such as the Ironman Triathlon. 

In an experiment to study the effects of caffeine as an ergogenic aid, 6 regular caffeine users were monitored while they exercised until exhaustion.  During this double blind, placebo test, the athletes were given pills an hour before the experiment. The results were that those who received caffeine before the exercise performed more efficiently than those who received the placebo (Graham, 883-889).  This shows the importance of caffeine in endurance sports in which require a great deal of physical stamina in order to compete successfully.  Studies also show that caffeine has very little affect on athletes requiring quick burst of energy such as sprinters and swimmers.  Also caffeine has been known to decrease fatigue...
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