Is there a correlation between sport and coffee? Does coffee really bring benefits to athletes? How?
We answer these questions in this new article by ABCoffee, the Caffè Ernani magazine!
Caffè Ernani has always played an active role in the world of sport, supporting the Como Calcio team in the 2021/2022 season, sponsoring its favorite basketball team for several years, namely Aurora Desio, in which Andrea Mazzoleni, Ernani roaster, plays as captain.
We also contributed to various running initiatives, among which we will soon see the StraWoman in Milan!
In short, we blindly believe in the combination of coffee and sport: perfect union between physical well-being and well-being of the soul.
In fact, the benefits that athletes derive from the habitual consumption of coffee are many and science confirms it!
In general what science says is that caffeine consumed before training improves speed, reflexes, endurance and focus.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a methylxanthine belonging to a group of chemical substances called purines. The correct scientific term is: 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine.
After this technique definition, let’s say in general that caffeine is obviously present in coffee and other drinks: such as in energy drinks, in sports supplements and tonics-energizers, as well as some drugs.
Let us also remember that the caffeine content in a cup of espresso is between 50 and 100 mg, while in a cup of moka coffee it is slightly higher, between 100 and 150 mg.
What are the effects and benefits of caffeine?
The mechanisms underlying the impact of caffeine on sports performance are mainly mediated by the release of catecholamines, i.e. hormones called respectively adrenaline and noradrenaline, or epinephrine and norepinephrine.
Their action, maximum for example during a sudden and intense effort, acts both centrally and peripherally.
To prepare the body to react and support this psycho-physical commitment, these hormones act in various ways:
- Increased coronary flow, therefore greater contribution of blood to the heart;
- Increased cardiac output, i.e. greater blood supply to the tissues;
- Increased systolic blood pressure;
- Increased muscle, kidney and skin blood flow;
- Increased cellular metabolism;
- Increased release of glucose into the blood and fatty acids;
- Blockade of adenosine receptors on fat and nerve cells (stimulatory effect);
- Reduction the perception of fatigue;
- Improved sustained attention;
- Improvement from the quick reflexes;
- Increase in available energy;
- Mood improvement;
- Memory improvement;
- Increase of running speed;
- In addition to his anti-inflammatory properties.
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It is therefore clear how caffeine intake supports sports performance.
One of the most recent studies published in early 2023 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, states that caffeine taken before short-term and moderate-intensity exercise would lead to greater circulating concentrations of lactate and interleukin (IL)-6. In particular the release of the latter from contracting skeletal muscle contributes to some of the benefits determined by exercise.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) itself has underlined that caffeine supplementation can improve various aspects of physical performance: small and moderate amounts of caffeine are associated with an improvement of endurance, speed and movement and muscle strength, sprinting, jumping and throwing performance, as well as of a wide range of sport-specific aerobic and anaerobic actions..
Even the Survey of the European Federation of associations of Dieticians which recently investigated the role of coffee for health states that 67% of dietitians agree that coffee brings to an improvement in overall sports performance,especially before exercising.
Another study proves that athletes who had taken caffeine in high doses (10 mg/kg of body weight) recorded a performance increased by 19% compared to that of other athletes treated with placebo.
This study was based on evidence obtained on treadmill runs that continued until physical exhaustion.
Finally, a research reported by ISIC (Institute for Scientific Information of Coffee) has given new confirmations about the positive role of coffee, thanks to the bioactivity of caffeine, on athletic performance.
The research comes from a large meta-analysis of 21 studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, according to which caffeine can improve muscle resistence and would appear to have a greater positive effect on aerobic than anaerobic activities.
This is also confirmed by Dr. J.W. Langer, a nutrition expert and lecturer in medical pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen, commented:
““When it comes to coffee and caffeine, the results are clear in relation to athletes: caffeine can help improve performance. Many studies show that athletes who consume caffeine before a race or sporting event are able to go faster, last longer and recover more quickly than those without this extra boost. This is especially true in endurance activities, such as long-distance running.”.
As can therefore be seen, year after year, research after research, coffee represents for athletes and non-athletes, in addition to a symbolic moment of conviviality, also a winning ally in the performance and for the health of our body.
The drink thus proves to be increasingly important and rooted in our culture, daily life and well-being.
How much caffeine should you take before working out?
To maximize the positive effects it is recommended to take:
- 3-6 mg/kg of body weight;
- Even if the dosage useful minimum is between 180-200 mg;
- Being careful not to exceed 800 mg;
- Between 3 hours and 75 minutes before the performance.
Be careful though!
These are only general rules, always ask your nutritionist, dietitian or sports doctor for advice before taking.
More caffeine always means better performance?
The abuse of caffeine, as well as being able to fall into some regulations doping, it’s never a good solution. Just as it has innumerable benefits, if consumed excessively, it presents innumerable problems to our body.
So let’s limit ourselves in its consumption and above all ask for advice from the experts!
Finally, we must consider not only coffee, as already mentioned, but also all the other drinks and foods that contain it.
Caffè Ernani, the perfect coffee for sportsmen
One of the advantages of the Medium Roasting, in addition to the exaltation of the aromas and aromatic nuances, is that it manages to retain a higher percentage of caffeine inside the beans.
In fact, with Medium Roasting you don’t “stress” the coffee too much by overcooking it.
This allows the grains to retain a higher concentration of caffeine inside them, thus giving more energy with its intake.
That’s why it’s perfect for athletes!
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- EFSA (2015) Scientific Opinion on the Safety of Caffeine, EFSA Journal, 13(5):4102.