Caffeine and Thermogenics – Their Influence on Performance and Physique
Caffeine is one of the most widely researched topics for its many benefits. It comes in several sources. It can be found in cocoa, coffee, tea, and supplements, and it is widely known to be effective in influencing weight loss. But there is more to it than simply drinking your morning coffee. To ideally take advantage of its benefits, caffeine must be paired with a clean diet and regular exercise. When used to supplement these habits, it can be a step up to bring in a tighter package. Optimal dose to maximize and enhance your exercise performance is 3-6 mg/kg body weight, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Peak blood levels occur about 45-60 minutes after ingestion. What makes caffeine and thermogenics so useful in training?
Caffeine metabolizes fat stores and encourages your working muscles to use fat as a fuel. Using fat as a fuel not only helps in fat loss, but provides prolonged exercise sessions by delaying the depletion of muscle glycogen…..which means harder training, which means greater gains. According to the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Illinois, people who drank caffeine had experienced less anxiety with strenuous exercise, which may blunt cortisol release, and may dull the physical sensation of the muscle burning. As a pre-workout, caffeine is king. Pair these benefits with the added perk that caffeine is a stimulant that can make you feel more alert, focused and react faster. Caffeine stimulates the brain and contributes to clearer thinking.
It is said that caffeine has a diuretic effect, which is true if the amount is over 500-600 mg per day. Anything below that level and your body doesn’t lose any more fluid than the drink itself provides. That being said, in most situations, dehydration is not an issue. Most caffeine drinks and supplements don’t provide that much caffeine.
A popular source of caffeine within the fitness spectrum is its use in thermogenic products such as BIUM-D. How do these supplements stack up with researchers? Are they a gimmick? The “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” says there may be more evidence of its benefit than most people give caffeine credit for. Their research showed that thermogenics may improve muscle endurance, meaning more contractions through an observed increase in VO2 and increased time to exhaustion. Research was done at the National Center for Biotechnology Information to evaluate the effectiveness of thermogenics and their conclusions were very promising. Resting Energy Expenditures (REE) were increased with thermogenic aids for 4 hours post ingestion while supporting increased focus, alertness and energy, as well as decreasing fatigue without promoting anxiety (there’s that cortisol control again) or causing significant changes in heartrate, blood pressure or electrocardiogram responses. They concluded these supplements were a beneficial tool to offset the reduction in energy expenditure associated with fat loss as well as using fat stores as the primary fuel source. A 100 calorie rise was found in metabolic rate and greater stored fat was used as an energy source from just a single dose. In a 10-month period of time, their study showed, an average of 5.5-pound loss was found for sedentary men with a concurrent exercise program, and a 2% reduction in body fat percentage. What does this mean for muscle preservation? Well this study also found a 3.3 pound gain in muscle mass. This trend was also found to be the case in the female study.
Another ingredient in many thermogenics is Forskolin, which is an Indian herb shown to break down fat stores and inhibit fat synthesis. According to L. Hellstrom’s findings in Diabetologia and Surgery and Research in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, this is caused by its activation of the enzyme adenylcyclase, increasing the level of cyclic AMP in cells. Once formed, cyclic AMP will multiply the thermogenic actions of noradrenaline, increasing the production and release of thyroid gland hormones. This means an increase in metabolic rate and a notable increase in fat-burning. Genetically determined fat cell stores that are difficult to lose are offset by the compensation from Forskolin. Not only is this herb an aid in stubborn fat, it serves as a benefit in lowering elevated blood pressure, and improving heart function. It’s used to treat congestive heart failure, angina, allergies, asthma, and eczema according to TW Burns in Life Science.
Before trying any new supplement, in particular one that contains stimulants such as caffeine, be cautious. Never try anything new on the day of an event, day of a race or day of a performance. It’s smart to allow your body to be familiar with a product and also to see how your body reacts. Most dosage recommendations are based on average body-weight and the suggested dosage may be too high or too low for you. It’s important to know how your body will respond. Thermogenics and basic caffeine should also be avoided by elderly, children, teens, pregnant women, as well as people who suffer from other health concerns such as heart disease, high blood pressure or anxiety as these can become problematic.
Bottom line; when in prep for competition, or simply wanting to bring a new level to your physique, thermogenics and caffeine supplements certainly have proven themselves to be an effective tool especially when you’re doing everything right from exercise, training, nutrition, and food timing. With all of the dedication put towards your physique, the help that thermogenics can bring might be a valuable tool.
Heather Bennett is a personal trainer and nutritional coach based in Austin, Texas.
She is a mom of two young kids and married for 16 years.
In 2014 she became Co-Promoter of the NPC Fort Wayne Flex Bodybuilding Championships in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Official NPC Judge.
Heather offers fitness programs and nutritional plans for clients across the country.
She can be contacted through her website, www.heatherbennetttraining.com