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Coffee and Fitness.

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"Caffeine as a supplement is used by women across the world to help them increase physical endurance, stamina and mental alertness. 
But ... do we actually know what affect it is having on our bodies? Is it a positive affect, or a negative one? Let's find out."

5 Minute Read.

Caffeine & Women's Health.

Caffeine is the most widely consumed psycho-active drug on earth. Fact. Because it is so widely available  and widely consumed, the affects it can have on our bodies are widely ignored.

In this quick read post, we'll take a quick look through the facts about caffeine and the affect it has on us. Below, we'll go through 5 key points that will help us understand it a little more clearly.

We'll cover:

1 - Caffeine & women's hormones.

     Does caffeine affect my hormones? Really?

2 - Does caffeine affect my menstrual cycle?

      We'll clear this up.

3 - Caffeine sensitivity.

      Know the symptoms.

4 - Will caffeine benefit my workout?

      Probably - Let's look at some quick facts.

5 - Caffeine pre-workout.

      Consuming the right dose for your body is very important.

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We've created this article to quickly inform you of facts so you can make an informed decision about caffeine. Each of the above 5 sections is a 1 minute  read (or less). We'll include links to any relevant info if you want to do some further reading on the subject.

Let's get straight to it.

Caffeine and Fitness - Women.

When studying caffeine from coffee, It was found that Asian women experienced a noticeable increase in estrogen levels , Black women experienced no relevant effect and Caucasian women actually experienced a slight drop in blood estrogen levels.

When studying the effects of caffeine from caffeinated soda and green tea, it was found that women from all 3 ethnic groups experienced an increase in blood estrogen levels.

Caffeine is pretty weird stuff. The source of the caffeine seems to matter with regards to what kind of effect it will have on you. It also affects different ethnic groups in slightly different ways.

The summary of the study stated:

"The results indicate that caffeine consumption among women of child-bearing age influences estrogen levels".

If you didn't know this ... now you do.

But ...

It's important to note that not everybody is the same. Caffeine may have a certain affect on one person, yet have no effect on another. What these studies indicate is that caffeine is known to have these effects on some women. It doesn't mean that it will affect you this way.

This study conducted by the National Institutes of Health concluded that regular consumption of 200mg of caffeine per day (2 cups of decent coffee) had a direct affect on the levels of estrogen present in the blood stream.
The results varied between different ethnic groups and also showed different effects when caffeine was taken from different sources.

If you do consume caffeine regularly, it's best to keep an eye on how you're feeling. If you feel perfectly fine, then your perfectly fine. If you do have any concerns, it's best not to avoid speaking to your doctor about it.

If you'd like to know a bit more about this study, just click on the blue link above which will take you to the NIH website, or you can just google "caffeine and estrogen". 

Next, we'll have a quick look at menstrual cycles.

Does Caffeine Affect my Hormones?

Caffeine is known to have a direct affect on estrogen levels for some women.

Does Caffeine Affect My Period?

Possibly - is the straight answer to the above question.
There is an article on ScienceDirect.com indicating that caffeine can cause disturbances in the menstrual cycle for some women.
In a study of 350 women of pre-menstrual age, it was found that caffeine was a risk factor in causing both prolonged periods and also oligomenorrhoea (Infrequent menstrual periods - 6 to 8 per year or less).
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It also has an affect on a lot of other hormones as well as estrogen. Around 1 hour after ingesting caffeine, it will start to affect the way your body produces hormones that affect blood flow. This is why some consumers of caffeine may experience a period with less blood flow.

Again, it's important to note that some women are affected by it in this way, some are not.

Does Caffeine Affect Period Cramps?

Thee is a growing awareness that caffeine can affect some women in a negative way with regards to cramping before and/or during the menstrual cycle.
Due to it's natural diuretic affect, caffeine can cause a slight increase in the intensity of muscular cramping associated with a period.
This seems to affect (some) women who consume around 200mg of caffeine or more per day (around 2 decent cups of coffee or more).
Caffeine and Breast Tenderness.
Fibrocystic breast syndrome (tender or sore breasts) is something that many women experience before and during their period. Tiny benign lumps in the breast tissue that are filled with fluid can become even more full due to caffeine's diuretic effect.
This slight increase in fluid retention can cause these tiny lumps to swell slightly more, thus causing an increase in tenderness or soreness.
Same again - Some women are affected, some are not.

Side Effects of Too Much Caffeine.

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  • Anxiety - Caffeine increases the bodies' production of adrenaline (fight or flight hormone). In excessive amounts this can cause feelings of anxiety.

  • Insomnia - Struggling to fall asleep is a common side effect of having too much caffeine in your body. This problem is more prominent in the elderly. Most people don't realise that it can take your body 5 - 6 hours to remove all caffeine. (Longer if you're pregnant).

  • Digestive System Issues - Caffeine increases peristalsis, which is the muscle contractions of your digestive tract. Coffee causes an increase in a stomach hormone called gastrin, this speeds up activity in the colon - Basically means that you'll want to poop more often.

  • Increase in Blood Pressure - Caffeine has a stimulating affect on the body's nervous systems and also can increase the production of adrenaline. These 2 things combined will usually increase your blood pressure (temporarily).

  • Headaches - Caffeine can directly trigger headaches in some people. Due to the various effects it has on the body, a headache usually caused by a slight increase in blood pressure in the vessels in & around the brain.

  • Nausea - Some people find that too much caffeine can cause them to experience a desire to vomit. The exact cause is not known, but is a commonly reported side effect reported by people who consumed to much caffeine.

Caffeine can be helpful in giving us a bit of a boost to get us through our day (or workout) but it can also prove to be some pretty nasty stuff when you consume too much for what your body can process.

The key is simple: Monitor how you feel.

That really is it. If you use caffeine in whatever form and you feel perfectly fine after doing so, then you're perfectly fine.

If do you notice any symptoms around 60 to 90mins after ingesting caffeine, maybe you need to consider  that you might be caffeine sensitive and switching to a lower dose (or lower caffeine coffee) is all you need to do.

Q - What exactly is 'caffeine sensitivity' ?
A - Too much caffeine will cause you to experience negative symptoms. E.g - If you drink 5 or 6 cups of coffee, you may experience nausea or possibly anxiety. A person who is caffeine sensitive will experience the same symptoms, but from 2 or 3 cups of coffee instead of 5 or 6.

Caffeine Sensitivity - Symptoms.

The symptoms associated with consuming more caffeine than what your body can safely process are quite debilitating. These articles from PubMed.gov list the following symptoms as some of the common side effects. Let's take a look.

A woman exercising.

Will Caffeine Benefit my Workout?

Probably - is the direct answer to this question.

Let's take a look.

Your level of personal fitness will play a determining factor on how much of a 'boost' you'll get from caffeine.

According to this researched article on Healthline.com, the fitter you are, the more of an effect caffeine will have on you. The less trained you are - less of an effect.

Probably not what you wanted to hear if you're untrained and in need of a boost, but, they're the facts.

Let's just bullet point the key facts:

  • The fitter you are, the more caffeine  will have it's desired effect on you.

  • Early studies indicate that caffeine will probably increase the rate at which your body utilises fat cells for energy (fat burn).

  • Due to the causal effect caffeine has on the body  - producing slightly more adrenaline, athletic performance may be slightly increased (strength and/or endurance).

  • You should not take more than your required dose. Caffeine is a strange substance, 'doubling up' will not give you double the effect. Always stick to your required dose for optimum benefit. (See below).

These points are just to simplify the key facts you need to know regarding caffeine use for fitness.

There are a lot of scientific study results available online with regards to whether caffeine does actually provide any noticeable benefit to athletic performance. Here' the facts:

  • Some caffeine studies noted no noticeable improvement gains in athletic performance.

  • Most studies noted a slight improvement in performance.

  • Some studies noted a significant improvement in performance.

They're the facts. The only thing we can take from that is to take the middle road and assume we'll experience a slight improvement in performance. 

As we mentioned earlier, consuming the right dose of caffeine for your body is important, so let's go to the next section and take a look at that.

Caffeine Pre-Workout.

Here's the facts.

For most women (with no health conditions), it is ok to consume up to 400mg of caffeine a day. If you do consume too much and it's an amount your body will struggle to process, you'll probably experience symptoms like nausea, headaches, racing heart beat or palpitations, restlessness or agitation or other symptoms associated with consuming too much caffeine.

 

For optimum performance...

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As mentioned, you should avoid taking too high a dose for what your needs are. Let's get straight to it.

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There are 3 different measures to ascertain your correct pre-workout amount. (Not daily amount).

 

These are:

Your 'optimum workout' caffeine amount is based on your body weight.

It is not based on the kind of physical activity you are performing.

As you know, caffeine is not 'nutrition'. It has no nutritional value. We don't calculate caffeine amounts the same way we would calculate our body's requirement for nutrients or energy.

E.g - Whether you're performing;

  • Squats at the gym.

  • Going for a run or a swim.

  • A short or long bike ride.

  • Cardio at the gym.

or even playing a netball match, horse riding or any other sport, your 'optimum workout' caffeine amount is based on your body weight.

* Do not exceed 300 mg of caffeine in one dose, regardless of your body weight. E.g, if you weigh more than 100kg or 222lbs, limit your dose to a maximum of 300mg.

This is not your 'daily' caffeine amount. This is your 'optimum workout' amount. Aim to consume your caffeine around 1 hour pre-workout or before your physcial activity begins.

It is important to note that if you do use caffeine as a supplement or even just consume coffee throughout the day and you're experiencing  any symptoms that you think may be related to the caffeine, you should speak to your doctor or health professional about it. Please don't delay doing so.

Lower level dose.

1 mg per Kg

0.45 mg per lb

Perfect if you have established that you are

caffeine sensitive.

Or, for when you just want a bit of a boost, but not too much.

Optimum level.

2 mg per Kg

0.9 mg per lb

This is where you want to be to get the most from your caffeine supplement.

(Or coffee).

High level.

3 mg per Kg *

1.35 mg per lb *

This is for when you'll need maximum boost for maximum intensity or endurance. This should only be done occasionally and not regularly.

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And That's All folks.

We hope you found this quick read article helpful and informative. We've kept it as 'straight to the point' as we could to make it a quick read.

 

If you'd like to know a bit more about what you can do with your own coffee, take a quick look at some of our articles below, it's all helpful stuff.

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