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Effects of Caffeine on Athletic Performance Essay

Athletes are likely to consume substances that can enhance their performance in sports events. Caffeine is traditionally considered as one such substance, which if used properly, can enhance performance of athletes. In actuality, there is dearth of research pertaining to impact of caffeine on athlete’s performance. Nutrition experts generally advice moderate consumption of caffeine as it has the ability to enhance efficiency and reduce fatigue. There are evidences to suggest that this substance is effective with minimal side effects.

(Jenkinson and Harbert, 1040) This substance is considered as a “stimulant” as it is likely to enhance energy levels of an individual. Studies showed that sportspersons were able to enhance their performance, even though it did not have much impact on sprinting performance. Moderate level of caffeine intake is expected to improve athlete’s performance to considerable extent. (Jenkinson and Harbert, 1042) Caffeine is used in large numbers of health drinks and its effect is often ignored by sports physicians.

Compared to other studies, there is limited research on impact of caffeine on athletics. Nevertheless, scientific studies show that caffeine can enhance athlete’s energy and efficiency. Generally one hour before the sports event, athletes tend to consume caffeine in beverage or tablet form. Caffeine consumption can result in greater adrenaline secretion and glucose conservation, thereby enabling better athletic performance. Athletes are usually given 250 to 750 mg of dosage.

On certain occasions, athletes can exhibit drug concentrations, which can result in their expulsion from sports events. (Duggan et al, 743). IOC bans caffeine content of more than 12 mcg per mL and National Collegiate Athletic Association bans use of more than 15 mcg per mL. (Jenkinson and Harbert, 1040) Burke suggested that researcher needs to possess appropriate sports research participants to arrive at particular conclusion concerning impact of caffeine on athletics performance. This is because various studies have used subjects and their athletic abilities are not ascertained.

Nevertheless, studies show that moderate intake of caffeine is effective in sports that involve exhibition of strength and endurance. For example, swimming, rowing, and running races require athletes to perform over a period of 60 minutes. On the other hand, researchers have failed to assess impact of caffeine on athletes who participate in events such as throwing and sprinting. (Burke, 1319) It is also found that caffeine can cause headaches and other problems among sports persons. Studies showed that caffeine consumption improved trial cycling and rowing abilities of athletes.

It is possible that few athletes become addicted to this substance. They can also cause anxiety among sportsmen. (Duggan et al, 743) OTC drugs and soft drinks such as NoDoz – maximum and regular, Anacin, Mountain Dew, and Diet Coke comprise 50 to 200 mg of caffeine. (France, 159) The general perception is that caffeine consumption enhances athlete performance. It is true that in some cases, athlete can improve his or her mood and relax. But, caffeine can also cause anxiety and sleeplessness, which can mar athlete’s performance.

Appropriate care should be taken to avoid consumption of large quantities of soft drinks that contain caffeine. This is because IOC has imposed limits on caffeine consumption. As caffeine can make athlete restless, instead of boosting athletic performance it can negatively affect performance of sportsmen. For example, it is found that athlete can succumb to dehydration caused due to drugs comprising caffeine. (France, 159) Different individuals react differently to intake of caffeine. It can have positive and negative implications depending on response of consumer.

For example, an individual can consume large quantities of caffeinated drink and is able to show enhanced endurance. On the other hand, another individual may exhibit lack of endurance. Caffeine can be used when the athlete lacks concentration, as this substance enhances a person’s thinking capacity. After caffeine consumption, the individual should be subjected to physical test. Over- dosage of caffeine can have negative impact on athlete’s performance. (Sokmen et al, 978) Limited quantity of caffeine intake can have positive impact on performance of an athlete.

In this respect, coaches and physicians play an important role as they need to analyze age, gender, and endurance level of an individual and accordingly suggest caffeine consumption. It is suggested that “There have been numerous positive reports …of the improvements of caffeine on mood, mental alertness, decreased tiredness, and energetic arousal. ” (Sokmen et al, 978) Consumption of large quantities of energy drinks comprising caffeine may not prove beneficial in the long term. This is because younger generation is increasingly becoming depended on caffeine and alcohol.

The regulatory mechanism in the US allows marketing of products that target younger generation, which is easily influenced by advertisements that appear in the media. There are energy drinks, which comprise caffeine content of 500 mg, which is not advisable. Athletes need to differentiate between energy and sports drinks. For example, Red Bull that was originally introduced in Austria has become a rage among younger generation. Consumption of caffeine along with alcohol can be considered as deadly combination. In certain situations, caffeinated drinks can have negative impact on athlete performance.

(Reissig et al,1) it is found that during the period 2002 to 2006 energy drinks have achieved average sales increase of 50 percent, which shows that in the future young people are likely to enhance consumption of such drinks. (Reissig et al, 2) A study conducted in the context of Canada showed differences between caffeine and coffee, as the latter comprises not only caffeine but also other ingredients. This study was based on information provided by 270 athletes who reported caffeine daily intake of 0. 85 mg per kg. Caffeine was usually taken in the form of coffee.

The study was not able to conclusively prove positive impact of caffeine intake on sports person’s performance. At the same time, the study has showed that caffeine has negative implications such as gastric problems, impact on sleep, and consumption of other caffeinated drinks. Sleeplessness can have impact on athlete’s performance. (Tunnicliffe et al, 1301). A study conducted on Austrian sportsmen shows that nearly 85 percent of participants were willing to consume caffeine before or after their participation in sports event. The aim of athletes is to enhance their energy levels and efficiency.

(Tunnicliffe et al, 1303) Positive impact of caffeine on athletes is studied. For example, a study showed that caffeine consumption can enhance physical and cognitive abilities during difficult exercise. The experiment gave 100 mg of caffeine to 24 experienced cyclists. Computer-based tests were used to analyze physical and cognitive performance of cyclists during and after exercise. This study showed that when properly administered caffeine can have significant impact on performance of athletes. It is found that caffeine is more effective when compared with non caffeinated drinks.

The sportspersons who use caffeine are able to enhance their concentration abilities. (Hogervorst et al, 1841). The study did not find considerable side effects by consumption of caffeine. The side effects that were reported relate to exercise. For example, athletes experienced problems such as tiredness, muscle trembling, exhaustion, and drowsiness. (Hogervorst et al, 1848) International Society of Sports Nutrition, in its position statement concerning the use of caffeine, stated that this substance should be used at moderate levels as high dosage can have negative implications for sportsmen.

Caffeine is considered as ergogenic for sports that requires sustained performance by athletes. It can be used in sports such as rugby and soccer. This shows that a few positive qualities of caffeine are recognized. (Goldstein et al, 2) A study conducted on cyclists showed that caffeine ingestion enhances efficiency of athletes. The cyclists, in this study were given dosages of 500 and 250 mg of caffeine one hour before beginning of sport event. The use of caffeine enhanced cyclist’s performance by 7 percent. (Goldstein et al, 4)

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