Everyone gets that feeling of lethargy during the day where they just can't seem to muster enough energy to focus on the tasks at hand. The first inclination is to pump your body with an excess amount of caffeine to get you motivated. But if you do that hours before a workout, however, you may be hurting your performance and endurance.
High doses of caffeine can hinder athletic performance by altering coordination. In addition, caffeine serves as a diuretic, so your body could be eliminating the fluids it needs to get through an intense workout. Those lost fluids can lead to risk of dehydration, resulting in sub-par athletic performance because of headaches and fatigue.
Caffeine doesn’t have to be eliminated completely, however. A moderate amount of caffeine just prior (3-6mg/kg) or during (1-2 mg/kg) a workout has shown to improve endurance, since caffeine does provide a temporary boost of energy. But the time of intake is crucial for optimal performance.
For optimal performance:
- Test the waters by laying off caffeine for a few days to see if your workouts are positively affected. It might kick your caffeine dependency altogether.
- If you feel that your workouts are being hindered by caffeine, try cutting out your morning cup and have a moderate amount of caffeine just prior to or during a workout.
- If you can't live without it, save your "mid-day boost" cup for within an hour of a workout (caffeine usually takes approximately 30 minutes to fully kick in).
- Try moving your workout to the early morning or to a time where caffeine hasn’t had the allotted time to crash in on you.
Of course, the intake of caffeine is case specific, because if you have been consuming large amounts of caffeine for years then you have likely built a tolerance to its negative and positive effects.