Caffeine is a chemical naturally found in many plants. Caffeine is also an important ingredient in many foods and beverages such as chocolate, soft drinks, coffee, and tea. It is believed that caffeine improves mental and physical performance. Studies have shown caffeine to improve endurance performance, but not an aerobic performance such as sprinting or high intensity exercise. Caffeine also decreases one's perception of fatigue and is used in some pain medications. Caffeine is inexpensive and readily available.
WHY ATHLETES USE IT
The ability of caffeine to improve alertness, increase endurance, and reduce fatigue has lead many athletes to use caffeine as an ergogenic aid.
Insomnia (trouble sleeping).
Headache (withdrawal effect).
Increased urination (diuresis).
Elevated blood pressure (only in short-term use).
Cardiac arrhythmias (typically only if a preexisting heart condition is present).
The body absorbs caffeine well, but it varies in how quickly its effects are produced and how long until the body breaks it down. Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it increases the function of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) by enhancing the breakdown of fats to be used for fuel and initiating the release of calcium from muscle cells. It is believed that caffeine's ability to increase the breakdown of fats is its most important action in improving sports performance. Caffeine's effect on the body occurs at a level that is allows it to be legal as an ergogenic aid.
Many professional and amateur sporting competitions test caffeine levels in athletes. If you choose to use caffeine to enhance athletic performance, you should make every attempt to learn how your body responds to the chemical. This may help to prevent side effects and to maximize performance gain. Caffeine should not be used as a substitute for proper training.