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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Caffeine/Preworkout: Timing for Performance and Recovery

By: Joel Luedke

We have touted the effects of caffeine on TAT and the research shows there are some very beneficial effects on performance.  These effects can also be seen when it comes to taking a pre workout.  We aren't denying that fact but in this article we are going to take a closer look at the timing of stimulant ingestion, when you take it and how that can play a huge role in your performance but also the start of your recovery.

I remember the days when I would watch teammates slam part of a Mountain Dew and then replace the rest with a Red Bull and put that down 30 minutes prior to game time.  It still occurs today when I watch both athletes and coaches put down energy drinks immediately before a game and then try and 're-fuel' with a 5-Hour Energy or caffeine pills at half time.  My question was does this really help out and utilize the full benefit of these supplements and also does it impair the start of the recovery process?


I picked up some great insight from check out a Sigma Nutrition Episode talking about sleep and

recovery and here are the basics and I found it very intriguing.

Starting off with just the basics when it comes to caffeine which is often what people are trying to get the most out of when consuming these pre-workouts and energy drinks.  When we look at caffeine it has been found in research that caffeine will reach peak levels in your blood between 90-100 minutes after consumption.  This is the part where we focus on performance.  This peak level time means that in order to get the most benefit from caffeine at the start of your competition/workout your are going to want to be consuming it 90 minutes prior to the game time and make sure you factor in warm-ups etc.

This also then potentially suggests another round (smaller would be recommended) closer to game time in order to have the caffeine be peak in your system later into your competition.*

Taking it for performance isn't the only side of the timing that is important to note.  What about the effects that caffeine can play on you after your practice or competition?  Can it actually decrease your ability to get set up in a recovery state?

Moving further in pharmaco-kinetics of caffeine we start looking at recovering from competition and utilizing caffeine/pre workout.  The half life of caffeine is 4-6 hours and this could end up having a huge impact on your recovery.  If you're taking these stimulants at half time and it isn't kicking in until after the game and you are playing at 7:00pm your are looking at 11:00pm-2:00pm before that caffeine is halfway process through your body.  You've effectively stunted your sleep while trying to ramp yourself up.  If you have multiple important competitions and training sessions coming up this dent in your recovery can severely hinder that performance.

There is nothing wrong with utilizing pre workouts, caffeine or legal stimulants to enhance your performance but you must look at a bigger picture.  Back yourself up with the science of when that supplement can help you the most and knowing the peak times in your body and how long those effects can last.  Training smarter can help you out so much in the long run.

*This is a side-note/disclaimer.  Even with the science telling you how long things last and when they will be peak in your blood people will still argue for taking it half-time and they feel a 'rush' of energy right after consumption.  While physiology and science don't support this method of consumption it could potentially be classical conditioning that gives the person the sense of increased energy when consuming caffeine or an energy drink.  Just the act seems to help put people into the mindset and I'm of the mind that if that helps then it helps. But if you want to get the most out of it for yourself we recommend utilizing the science as much as you can.

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