The right amount of caffeine consumption can do more than give athletes a little extra energy for early workouts. In fact, many popular foods and beverages that contain caffeine have numerous other health benefits for athletes as well as people that enjoy an active lifestyle.
Healthy Sources of Caffeine
There are healthy sources of caffeine, some of which include:
- Black coffee in moderation
- Green tea
- Black tea
- Cocoa powder
- Dark chocolate
It is important to remember that caffeine consumption should lift your mood and give you a little extra energy. Caffeine consumption that results in insomnia, the inability to focus, anxiety, or feeling restless is likely the result of consuming too much caffeine. Some people are naturally able to down a cup of coffee after dinner and fall asleep easily two hours later. However, other people are more sensitive to the stimulant.
Athletes should be cognizant that lack of sleep is almost always highly detrimental to athletic performance. In addition, caffeine binges are almost always a bad idea. The trick to getting a healthy amount of caffeine is to consume healthy sources in moderation. Avoid caffeine withdrawals by cutting back on overconsumption, or try swapping a sugary, caffeinated beverage for unsweetened iced tea. Skip caffeine pills, and incorporate a tablespoon of cocoa powder into protein shakes for a lower dose of caffeine that is easy to consume.
Crashes and Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue is caused by chronic overexertion and stress. In other words, your body will start to slow down when it cannot keep up with demands placed on it over time. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- Body aches
- Unintended weight loss
- Chronic fatigue
- Atypically low blood pressure
- Frequent lightheadedness
One common way athletes suffer from adrenal fatigue is binging on workouts and supplement consumption used to keep up with workouts. Caffeine is one of the easiest substances to overuse as it is highly socially acceptable, affordable, and readily available. In addition, caffeine is a habit-forming stimulant. One of the best ways to avoid adrenal fatigue is to make sure that caffeinated beverages with minimal nutritional value are not used to supplant the nutrients athletes need on a regular basis.
Vitamins That Help Avoid Adrenal Fatigue
One of the best ways to combat adrenal fatigue caused by the consumption of too much caffeine is to take a few vitamins and supplements, including:
- A daily multivitamin
- B-5 pantothenic acid
Numerous nutrients can also be consumed in caffeinated beverages. For example, ginseng is an ingredient found in many different types of teas.
Should Athletes Avoid Caffeine?
Healthy caffeine consumption can give athletes a little extra boost and improve performance. However, all athletes need to remain cognizant about the potential for malnourishment as well as the potential for accidental overuse of caffeine. Energy drinks are a great example of an unhealthy source of caffeine that can contribute to adrenal fatigue. Many energy drinks are packed with sugar, artificial flavoring, and more caffeine than almost any normal person should consume on a regular basis.
Another thing athletes should consider is the potential to feel full after consuming unhealthy sources of caffeine and neglect to eat a balanced diet. Foods and nutrients that are chemically altered can have a different effect on the body. Healthy sources of caffeine can give the right amount of energy without empty calories. After all, it is fairly difficult to feel full after drinking 8 ounces of black coffee or a cup of iced green tea.
How to Tell When It Is Time to Change
Athletes can recognize the signs of adrenal fatigue fairly easily. Almost everyone has an off day for no apparent reason. However, chronic fatigue and a general sick feeling are not a normal part of training. One of the best ways to tell if you need to add a cup of caffeinated tea to your daily routine or cut down on the espresso is to notice patterns when training. Poor performance or a variety of troubling symptoms should be a warning sign that something needs to change.
Training should make athletes want to eat more, feel rested after sleep, and fall asleep easily. Sometimes, the solution to feeling chronically poor can be as simple as cutting out the energy drinks and taking a little extra ginseng.
Optimal Lifestyle Choices for Athletes
Caffeine can be more helpful for certain individuals than it is for others. When in doubt, it can be helpful to go back to health basics. Athletes need additional sleep and additional nutrients to support the body during training. One sugary energy drink or one late night probably will not be detrimental to overall athletic performance. However, athletes should be cognizant of different lifestyle choices that support training sessions, work, and family life.
There are many contradictory theories about what to consume and what not to consume on a regular basis. The best answer often depends on what sport athletes participate in. Weight lifters that compete for strength can add a chocolate bar on top of the massive amount of food needed to sustain muscle growth. However, body builders often need to stick to a strict diet with minimal sugar for competitions. In almost all sports, a cup of caffeinated tea will typically do more good than harm.
Healthy Caffeine Can Support a Balanced Lifestyle
Healthy consumption of caffeine can support athletic performance as well as support a balanced lifestyle due to its mild mood-lifting properties. Athletes can perform at their best while attending social events and succeeding in the workplace. Instead of driving your friends and family crazy with a grumpy demeanor due to adrenal fatigue, have a small helping of dark chocolate and some ginseng tea.