Caffeine for Performance, Focus and Anti-Inflammation
We all know that Caffeine is the go-to when we’re feeling slow – most of us drink caffeinated drinks daily and sometimes even multiple times a day! We wake up – coffee, go to work – coffee, hit the gym – pre-workout, all sources of Caffeine. What you might not know is that Caffeine has benefits far beyond the mental stimulant effect that we typically use it for. These effects can be seen in performance, cognitive function, and even general health! When we formulated ALTRD STATE, BURN CYCLE, iPREP and iLEAN with specific amounts of Caffeine we knew exactly what we were doing and now we’re going to give you some insight into our reasons why. First, let’s make sure we know what Caffeine is and where it comes from.
BACKGROUND AND FUNCTION
Derived from over 60 different plant species, Caffeine can be found in seeds, beans, leaves and berries like Cocoa Beans, Kola Nuts, Tea Leaves, Coffee Beans, Guarana Berries, Guayusa, Yaupon Holly and many others!4 You’ll find most of these plants in warmer humid climates in the world like rainforests in South America, Africa and East Asia, aside from Yaupon Holly which can be found in the southern United States. Caffeine has been a nutrient enjoyed by cultures all around the world before it was even given its name, from Ethiopia to North America, but what exactly is it?
To put it specifically, Caffeine is a methylxanthine alkaloid, which is a group of three stimulant type substances. It binds to the same receptors that bind to adenosine, a ribonucleoside, in the central nervous system.10 Adenosine plays a key role in cellular energy transfer, vasodilation and, most importantly, signal transduction.9 What is important to know is that because the human body seeks balance in all reactions (homeostasis), adenosine moderates some activities, and the central nervous system experiences an adenosine-moderated down-regulation when adenosine binds to its receptors, which lowers the force of contraction in tissues like heart tissue and skeletal muscle tissue.2
This means that when normal adenosine binding happens, the CNS slows and balances its signal transmission and other functions. When Caffeine binds to these adenosine receptors instead, the moderation does not happen and those tissues experience a stimulating effect, among other effects. The importance of these changes is why Caffeine has so many benefits and why it’s paramount to include it in supplements like ALTRD STATE and BURN CYCLE.
The most well-known benefit of Caffeine is reduction of fatigue and increased alertness. In a study performed on 24 apparently healthy young men, it was found that 250 mg of Caffeine twice a day, over a two-day period showed improved alertness and auditory vigilance compared to a placebo group.2 These findings are consistent with multiple similar studies.14, 3 Some may say that the withdraw of Caffeine and the subsequent re-dosing of Caffeine is the reason that we feel more alert, however, studies do not corroborate that hypothesis.
“250 mg of Caffeine twice a day improves alertness…”
A study performed on 110 volunteers measured the effects of Caffeine withdrawal overnight while simultaneously measuring the effects of subsequent doses of Caffeine on alertness and vigilance.15 They found that not only did withdrawal not have a significant effect on mood or performance, but that as Caffeine doses increased, so too did alertness and vigilance while also mitigating the decline in alertness and vigilance. So, if you had any doubts about the effects of Caffeine on alertness, you can leave those at the door now. What you might be more interested in is the effect that Caffeine has on athletic performance beyond that of focus!
Caffeine has been shown to improve athletic performance on multiple levels. In a study of 11 already active participants, Caffeine was administered over a 20-day period at 3 mg/kg bodyweight a day. Each day they performed an aerobic power test (incremental) and a peak cycling power test (Wingate). In each of these evaluations, and on each day, the Caffeine group performed significantly higher than the placebo.6 You might say that athletic performance isn’t all about power, my sport is more reliant on endurance – Caffeine’s got you there too! In a study of 100 adolescents, Caffeine was shown to improve muscular endurance and aerobic endurance at doses of up to 6 mg/kg bodyweight.15 A study on University Tennis athletes found significant performance increases at 3 mg/kg of bodyweight in muscular endurance as well.16
If you’re not convinced, a systematic review and meta-analysis of 40 articles and 56 comparison groups showed that the effect size of Caffeine on endurance events was increased as the time requirement of the event was increased.13 This means that as the athlete was required to perform for longer, Caffeine enhanced their performance to a greater degree. Although this sounds great, it should be noted that Caffeine also begins to be tolerated between, roughly, day 20 and day 28 of continuous ingestion, but that doesn’t mean it ever stops being beneficial.6, 15
Here’s one of the lesser-known benefits of Caffeine – it has anti-inflammatory properties! Inflammation plagues the masses, whether it is chronic or acute, and it happens because of all sorts of conditions and circumstances. Although research is on-going, studies have found that Caffeine may reduce inflammation caused by neurodegenerative disease.10 It’s hypothesized that this happens because of a similar mechanism as the adenosine receptor reaction. Caffeine is thought to modulate an inflammatory regulation that happens through microglia (immune cells in brain tissue) when the brain is fighting off various pathogens. This is supposed to be a defense mechanism, but the inflammation that ensues causes damage to the tissue. When Caffeine takes the place of adenosine in these reactions it has an anti-inflammatory response.
Caffeine reduces inflammation in lung, brain and muscle tissue!
Caffeine has also been shown to reduce inflammation caused through Ischemic-Reperfusion Injury (IR), which is an outcome of negating tissue from blood supply and oxygen, then returning it, such as in exercise. Regular exercise is paramount to avoiding IR and preparing the body for the changes in blood/oxygen supply, but Caffeine helps as well! It does this by increasing the presence of pulmonary (in the lungs) inflammatory mediators.12 All of this is just icing on the cake after you know that Caffeine also reduces muscular inflammation caused by exercise.13 You might be saying that’s all fine and dandy but too much Caffeine makes me dehydrated. Well, here’s how you can manage that!
Dehydration from Caffeine isn’t as easy to achieve as you think. Studies conclusively show that the effects of dehydration don’t typically show until surpassing 400 mg in a day.12, 8, 16 A cup of Coffee has around 160 mg and that’s less than half of your limit. Not to mention that you’ll be consuming water through various sources throughout your day and your workout! Supplements that include electrolytes, like ALTRD STATE, BURN CYCLE and others, help manage hydration to a greater degree as well!1 They allow you to feel the positive benefits of Caffeine with specific dosages while taking care of your hydration simultaneously – that’s precision and true support.
You started this article thinking Caffeine was all about energy, and too much gave you anxiety but now you see the benefits. Caffeine reduces inflammation not only in muscle tissue but in pulmonary and brain tissue as well – saving you from a myriad of discomfort no matter what the issue. It also improves cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, and peak power output making you perform at your absolute best. To top it all off, it makes your central nervous system function faster to give you an alertness edge and the focus that you need to BE GREAT. So next time you pick up your favourite pre-workout, make sure it has the Caffeine that you need!
- Armstrong, L. E., Pumerantz, A. C., Roti, M. W., Judelson, D. A., Watson, G., Dias, J. C., Sökmen, B., Casa, D. J., Maresh, C. M., Lieberman, H., & Kellogg, M. (2005, June 1). Fluid, Electrolyte, and Renal Indices of Hydration during 11 Days of Controlled Caffeine Consumption. Human Kinetics.https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.15.3.252.
- Bradley, P. B. (2013, October 21). Central stimulant drugs. Introduction to Neuropharmacology. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780723612711500213
- Geisbrecht, T., Rycroft, J. A., & De Bruin, E. A. (2013). The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. Taylor & Francis. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/147683010X12611460764840.
- Heckman M.A. et al. (2010) Caffeine (1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine) in foods: a comprehensive review on consumption, functionality, safety, and regulatory matters.J Food Sci, 75:R77-87. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20492310/
- Kim, Y. S., & Joh, T. H. (2006). Microglia, major player in the brain inflammation: their roles in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease. EXPERIMENTAL and MOLECULAR MEDICINE, 38(4), 333–347. https://www.nature.com/articles/emm200640.pdf?origin=ppub
- Lara, B., Ruiz-Moreno, C., Salinero, J. J., & Coso, J. D. (2019). Time course of tolerance to the performance benefits of caffeine. PLOS ONE. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0210275.
- Madeira, M. H., Boia, R., Ambrósio, A. F., & Santiago, A. R. (2017, January 31). Having a Coffee Break: The Impact of Caffeine Consumption on Microglia-Mediated Inflammation in Neurodegenerative Diseases. Mediators of Inflammation. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2017/4761081/.
- Maughan, R. J., & Griffin, J. (2003, November 18). Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review. Wiley Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-277X.2003.00477.x.
- Pubchem. (2021). Adenosine. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database. Retrieved from: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/adenosine
- PubChem. (2021). Caffeine. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Caffeine. Retrieved from: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Caffeine
- Quindry, J. C., & Hamilton, K. L. (2013, August). Exercise and cardiac preconditioning against ischemia reperfusion injury. Current cardiology reviews. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780347/.
- Ruxton, C. H. S. (2008, February 13). The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks. Wiley Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x.
- Shen, J. G., Brooks, M. B., Cincotta, J., & Manjourides, J. D. (2018, August 20). Establishing a relationship between the effect of caffeine and duration of endurance athletic time trial events: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1440244018304596.
- Smith, A. P. (2005, August 17). Caffeine at work. Wiley Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hup.705.
- Spineli, H., Pinto, M. P., Santos, B. P. D., Lima-Silva, A. E., Bertuzzi, R., Gitaí, D. L. G., & Araujo, G. G. de. (2020, July 13). Caffeine improves various aspects of athletic performance in adolescents independent of their 163 C > A CYP1A2 genotypes. Wiley Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/sms.13749.
- Strecker, E. (2007, May 15). The Effect of Caffeine Ingestion on Tennis Skill Performance and Hydration Status. AUETD Home. http://etd.auburn.edu/handle/10415/799.