Pepsi and Coca-Cola recently announced they will soon include more specific label information on the caffeine in their beverages.. Reports suggest the vast majority of adults consume caffeinated beverages daily, particularly coffee or colas. Recreational runners most definitely are among them.
Some drink caffeinated beverages in the morning to get an energy boost or to ward off withdrawal symptoms of caffeine addiction. Some drink up first thing to stimulate a bowel movement before a run. Some hold off until just before the gun goes off to gain a competitive race edge. And an increasing number are opting for caffeine-enhanced energy drinks and gels to keep them going during endurance events.
Among caffeine’s potential benefits in exercise, according to the health Web site LifeScript:
- It can act as an appetite suppressant, promoting weight loss.
- It helps you be more alert.
- It can enhance performance by sparing glycogen and using fat stores for fuel, allowing a runner to go longer.
- It may make you feel like you are using less effort, so you’ll therefore push harder.
But there are drawbacks, too.
- It’s a diuretic and can cause dehydration and impede normal sweating, particularly in hot weather, which can lead to dangerous health risks.
- Too much can lead to the shakes, nausea and sleeplessness.
- It can cause intestinal cramping, diarrhea or more frequent urination—all requiring more pit stops.
The dehydration effect varies by individual and may not be as severe as first thought, particularly when compared to other fluids. “The truth is, a moderate intake of coffee, cola and other caffeinated beverages do count towards fluid needs, particularly if you are accustomed to consuming caffeine as a part of your daily diet,” according to an article on the site Run the Planet.
Exercise experts advise those who incorporate caffeine in their training and race strategies to consume it two to three hours prior to running to avoid “coffee stomach” and unplanned bathroom breaks. If you experiment with energy drinks and gels, be sure to drink ample water to avoid dehydration, particularly in warmer weather.