Believe it or not, there's a negative stigma attached to caffeine in sport
Having once been a banned substance – before being allowed again in 2004 – there is still a prevailing perception that it can only hinder your athletic output.
But according to rugby nutritionist James Morehen, consuming 3-6mg of caffeine in liquid form per kg of your body weight prior to exercise will help improve performance for team sports athletes over the age of 18.
For you science fans out there, ingesting caffeine will also aid the mobilisation of fat from your adipose tissue and muscle cells, and stimulate the release of adrenaline – which, when it hits your central nervous system, will make you more alert and reduce the perceived feeling of pain or prolonged fatigue.
With this in mind, a cup of coffee in the morning and/or before training will give you a boost. Not only that but Morehen and fellow team members at Liverpool John Moores University say that caffeine ingestion before an afternoon nap is recommended. The rough time period for caffeine to take effect is 20 to 60 minutes, so ingestion before the nap will allow the ergogenic aid to do its stuff and ease you softly out of your nap before you wake.
Depending on the brand, 60g of dark chocolate will contain 10-50mg of caffeine but be careful – a 250ml can of Red Bull contains 80mg of caffeine. High intake isn’t advised for those under the age of 18. For adult athletes seeking an energy boost during the day, the recipe below is an ideal snack.
DO – Swill your coffee – your salivary glands will tell your brain to release adrenaline
DON’T – Consume caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime
Coffee & protein oat bars (10 servings)
What you’ll need:
1 cup of rolled oats, 1 cup of fresh brewed coffee, Handful of mixed berries, 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts, 4 tablespoons of peanut butter, Handful of raisins, 1 scoop of flavoured protein powder
1 Put the rolled oats in a bowl and pour over your coffee.
2 Add the berries, nuts, peanut butter, raisins and protein powder to the bowl.
3 Mix well and pour into a large dish.
4 Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli powder and tomatoes and cook for 15 seconds before adding the vegetables back in and cooking for a further minute.
5 Place in the fridge for at least two hours to set.
6 Cut into cubes and enjoy!