Studies have found that 90 percent of Americans consume caffeine on a daily
basis, but what about athletes? Christine Sorg RD, CD, CSSD, Parkview
Sports Medicine, gives her thoughts on adding caffeine intake into your
If you haven't been drinking any caffeine, determine how necessary
it is to incorporate into your daily plan. It's important to know
the total caffeine content you're consuming throughout the day. A
general recommendation for athletes who choose to consume caffeine is
2-3 mg/kg prior to a workout. Be careful, however, because caffeine can
be addictive and have withdrawal effects. It can also cause increased
blood pressure and heart rate, and lead to gastrointestinal issues and
insomnia. Using whole foods to provide energy for your workouts allows
your body to consume carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and helps maintain
hydration, making it the healthier choice in most cases.
If you are a regular caffeine consumer, and you're tying to decide
between energy drinks, coffee, tea, soda, or sports supplements for your
mental/physical boost, consider the following:
Energy drinks contain caffeine and other plant-based stimulants, along with sugar and
other additives. Because most energy drinks are considered supplements
and aren't regulated by the FDA, there's no limit to the amount
of caffeine they can contain, and there may be a combination of stimulants
in your drink, such as caffeine, taurine (which aids the effects of caffeine),
guarana (a South American plant that contains large amounts of caffeine),
and ginseng (an East Asian herb believed to improve stamina) whose amounts
are not listed exactly. This increases your risk significantly.
Soda does have a limit on the amount of caffeine it can contain, ranging from
23mg to 43 mg per 12 fluid oz serving. Soda is not a nutrient dense beverage
and can contain around 9tsp of sugar. Soda may not allow proper hydration
before or after a workout.
Regular and decaf coffee both contain caffeine. The caffeine content can vary, ranging from 5mg
(decaf) ti 95-165 mg (regular) in an 8 fluid oz cup. Creams and sugars/sweeteners
can also be added to this beverage. Coffee may contain some nutritional
benefit because is contains antioxidants, along with small amounts of
potassium, niacin, vitamin E and magnesium. Coffee can be spiced up with
cinnamon, another great source of antioxidants! Everyone has a different
tolerance level for foods prior to their workouts, but if you can tolerate
it before (or save the boost for after!), try a latte, which can contain
up to a full cup of milk, allowing you to get in some vitamin D and protein
Tea can contain 20-90 mg of caffeine per 8 fluid oz serving. Black tea and
green tea have shown to have possible health benefits such as decreasing
the risk of heart attack and lowering cholesterol, and tea contains antioxidants.
Be mindful of where the tea ingredients are grown.
Sports drinks may or may not contain caffeine. Drinks such as Gatorade and PowerAde
contain fluid and electrolytes, as well as either simple sugars or sweeteners.
They are to be considered a "sports food" and should be consumed
before, during, or after a strenuous workout. If you're waking up
late for your workout and haven't had time to grab some pre-workout
foods for fuel, this is a time when a sports drink may be beneficial.
Other times may be for a workout that is longer than 60-90 minutes and
at moderate to high intensity. Consuming carbohydrates + protein + fluid
after a moderate to high intensity workout can aid in recovery, so a sports
drink would be beneficial for this as well. Sports bars, such as some
Cliff bars and gels such as Gu's contain caffeine, and labels should
be read before consumption. Dark chocolate is a food source that contains
caffeine, as much as 12 mg per 1 oz. If you are sensitive to higher amounts
of caffeine, but want a small boost throughout your day, this might be
an option. Or try a hot chocolate made with low fat milk!
Be sure to be mindful of the choices you make when deciding how to best
fuel your body. Check in with a sports dietitian to determine what plan
might be best for you. Call 260.266.4007 to work with a Parkview Sports