With the explosion on the market of 4hour+energyshots that contain little caffeine, I question the value of caffeine in weight loss products and energy pills in general. One major problem is that there are so many sources of caffeine in the diet, including coffee, chocolate, soda pop (diet and regular) and now just above every dietary supplement. Most pre-workout NO products contain some form of caffeine. Many unscrupulous supplement companies are disguising caffeine as “Methyl Xanthines” or simple “Xanthines” as a way to disguise the use of caffeine in their supplement. Things like “Chocamine” and Chocolate extract are primarily made up of caffeine and its derivatives. Finally herbal extracts like Guarana and certain tea extracts like Mate are used to disguise the caffeine content of dietary supplements. Picture this, you wake up in the morning and have large coffee at your favorite Char bucks. The Venti has 480mg of caffeine on average and this NOT using the espresso beans! So, 480 mg to start your day is a whopping dose of caffeine. Then let’s say you have a diet soda at 10 am and then another 20oz at lunch. That indulgence adds an extra 72mg per serving, so tack on another 144mg to your tally. You decide to hit the gym before your workout and take typical EXPLODE products from every supplement vendor in town. These pre- workout supplements have roughly 300mg per serving and often recommend that you take a double serving before working out, so add on another 600mg. Just an average day in the life of a bodybuilder is looking like over a GRAM of caffeine without even thinking about it (1,224 mg to be exact). Now ,if you add your caffeine based theromogenic on top of it, you could be ingesting another 600-800mg per day (most”stimulant”based thermogenics contain about 200mg of caffeine per serving in one of the forms mentioned above). So the average body builder is consuming 2000mg of caffeine per day! The recommended level that the Mayo Clinic recommends is two 12oz cans of diet soda per day max or about 90mg.
So, what?!? What is the big deal? Isn’t caffeine the most harmless thing that a bodybuilder can take? Caffeine doesn’t have side effects and it can give you a boost when you are down…right? I need that stimulant to get “going”! The cry of the desperate … Is caffeine even good in supplements and exercise? Effects of eight weeks of caffeine supplementations and endurance training on aerobics fitness and body composition. Malek MH, Housh TJ, Coburn JW, Beck TW, Schmidt RJ, Housh DJ, Johnson GO. University of Nebraska -Lincoln “These findings indicated that chronic use of the caffeine-containing supplement in the present study, in conjunction with aerobic training,provided no ergogenic effects as measured by VO(2)peak and TRE, and the supplement was of no benefit for altering body weight or body composition.” So, it is more than possible that caffeine does not add to the ergogenic effects in trained athletes and doesn’t help athletes lose weight. How about this study showing the negative effects on creative supplementation? Caffeine counterattacks the ergogenic action of muscle creative loading.Vandenberghe K, Gillis N, Van Leemputte M,, Van Hecke P,Vanstapel F,Hespel P. This study shows the caffeine reversed the benefit of creatine and muscle strength. Creatine showed an increase in muscle torque of 10-23% in the subjects studied. According to conclusion: “The data show that Creatine supplementation elevates muscle PhospoCreatine concentration and markedly improves performance during intense intermittent exercise. This ergogenic effect, however, is completely eliminated by caffeine intake.” So, here we have clear evidence that caffeine eliminates some of the key benefits of creatine supplementation, so why is it in your NO or Creatine Product?
Let’s talk about another big problem with the overuse of caffeine… type ll diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Why would this matter to the body builder? One big reason! Insulin is the second most important nutrient to the bodybuilder for building muscle and anything that blunts its effect isn’t really a good thing. Caffeine has been proven in many scientific studies to increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and type ll diabetes by blunting the effect of insulin in the bloodstream. In fact caffeine can be implicated in making diabetics fat! Reduced insulin sensitivity causes the body to release more insulin (hyper-insulinemia) which reduces the uptake of nutrients in the muscle cells (stay away from caffeine you’re your workouts) and potentiates the storage of energy as fat! So, in effect this caffeine over consumption might do WAY more harm than good and increase your chances of becoming obese, reducing your muscles ability to recover and taxing your adrenal system. There are reams of documents on pubmed that show how destructive caffeine is to your ability to metabolize sugar and the reduced effect of insulin in a hyper caffeinated environment. Professional bodybuilders take EXTRA insulin to increase their recovery and size, it is one of the most important nutrient systems that they can use to increase size and recovery. It is second only to anabolic steroids in making the professional bodybuilder ultra big. Why would anyone that wants a better physique take something that blunts the most anabolic hormone in the body next to testosterone? Why take 2,000mg of something that is PROVEN to reduce your recovery and ability to store nutrients? It is insanity, especially when you consider that caffeine has a very dubious effect on its ability to increase weight loss, with very little data showing it to be effective weight loss aid. Actually it seem that caffeine barely has a thermogenic effect and there are FAR better ways of getting a mental lift in the gym (although caffeine is very cheap, running about $8 per kilogram, which is why so many companies put it in their supplements to contrast.Yohimbine is about $1500 per kilogram).
Type ll Insulin resistance caused by caffeine WILL HAMPER YOUR ABILITY TO GAIN MUSCLE! Period! It is proven in multiple studies: “The present study in mice demonstrates that both models of diabetes impair regenerating muscle as well as uninjured muscles. Regenerating fast muscles are weaker, lighter and slower in diabetic compared with nondiabetic mice.” (Vignaud A) Meaning muscles regenerate more slowly in a insulin.
Glucose homeostasis have reduced skeletal muscle nNOSmicro protein content.”(-Bradeley, SJ) Insulin resistance is implicated in reduced mitochondria function in the muscle “In conclusion, the current data supports that muscle mitochondrial dysfunction in type 2 diabetes is not an intrinsic defect, but instead a functional defect related to impaired response to insulin.”(Asmann, YW). So, those energy drinks count on the Taurine and Sugar for their performance enhancing effect, not the caffeine. That is if you can trust the Mayo clinic about reduced mitochondrial activity in response to insulin resistance. According to Duke University, caffeine can also substantially raise your blood pressure, which is implicated in a whole host of diseases and complications. Additionally, high blood pressure has been linked to the worsening of metabolic syndrome, which is the body’s resistance to normal insulin function as described above. It seems that caffeine WORSENS the effect of raising blood pressure which causes damage and further reduces gains. What else in high blood pressure implicated in? According to the Mayo Clinic web site: “Excessive pressure on the artery walls can damage your vital organs. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to: Damage to your arteries .This can result in hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack or other complications. An enlarged bulging blood vessel (aneurysm) also is possible. Heart failure. To pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, your heart muscle thickens. Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs, which can lead to heart failure. A blocked or ruptured blood vessel in your brain. This can lead to stroke. Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This can prevent these organs from functioning normally. Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in vision loss. Metabolic syndrome .This syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body’s metabolism-including elevated waist circumference, high triglycerides, and low- high density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol, high blood pressure and high insulin levels. If you have high blood pressure .you’re more likely to have other components of metabolic syndrome. The more components you have, the greater your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure also may affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Cognitive impairment and dementia are more common in people who have high blood pressure. The average bodybuilder doesn’t need higher blood pressure. In fact heavy lifting has been shown to increase blood pressure up to a whopping 250/180 (he average healthy blood pressure is under 120/80) ,so an unnecessary boost in blood pressure from caffeine. Supplements can certainly use other forms of stimulation to boost the metabolic effect or increase focus and intensity.Yohimine for example has been shown by Pantox Laboratories in California to not raise blood pressure at moderate doses and makes an excellent replacement for caffeine in pre -workout nitric oxide drinks and powders to give the focus boosting effect. It also has a very good thermogenic effect without worsening insulin sensitivity. Also, many stimulant manufactures are using things other than caffeine to provide a boost in energy or even offsetting the dangers of caffeine with natural blood pressure reducing agents like Hawthorn Berry (*Search Hawthorn Berry Stimulants for a list) and natural insulin potentiators like Momordica (*search mormodica stimulants for a list) with their thermogenics.Searching the internet for caffeine free stimulants is a good place to start (*Search “caffeine free stimulants”) looking for such alternatives. These items are useful in eliminating the negative effects of caffeine with all of the positive benefits. They are included in many supplements the do not include caffeine. The problem is that most supplements are either stimulants with caffeine or are simply less affective non -stimulants versions, which do not provide the focus and thermogenic effect of stimulants. Considering the amount of caffeine in dietary sources, the average person consumes enough from their standard diet to add any thermogenic effect to a stimulant based fat burner (caffeine does help increase the effect of other fat burners) without overdoing it on the caffeine. So, if your stimulant and pre-workout Nitric-Oxide supplement contains caffeine, perhaps you should look for alternatives that contain other stimulants like yohimbine.They will give you same boost in the gym without the negatives. If you want a little extra caffeine, have a cup of coffee. Caffeine has also been shown at high doses to increase cholesterol levels (suicide for bodybuilders taking anti-estrogens to boost testosterone or people using anabolic steroids since a reduction in estrogen, even in males can cause altered lipid profiles) without showing much of a weight loss effect. High cholesterol is something that a bodybuilder should take very seriously, since the current class of pro-steroids on the market has a chance to alter lipid profiles greatly.
Caffeine is something that is damaging to the body builder who wants to build the most possible muscle, by reducing the sensitivity of insulin. Insulin is a key hormone in building muscle and recovery and its impairment will certainly hamper growth. Also, caffeine makes bodybuilders more susceptible to the dangers of high blood pressure and altered lipid profiles which can worsen the chances of sudden death when combined with anabolic steroids. Interestingly coffee is somewhat different since it has been discovered that coffee contains chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to increase the effect of insulin and reduce the metabolic syndrome effects of caffeine (studies found that drinking coffee did not have the same negative metabolic insulin reducing effect as standard supplements from Guarana or Caffeine Anhydrous). So, if you must have your “caffeine boost” then take it from coffee!!