Caffeine in CrossFit

In this post we are going to look at all the benefits of caffeine and its supplementation for sports performance and fat burning. 

I'll tell you in advance that it is part of that select group of supplements worth spending money on.

How does caffeine work?

Caffeine acts on three levels:

Central nervous system

Increases dopamine and adrenaline hormones. 

How do we benefit? 

  • It raises the threshold of pain and effort functioning as a small drug to improve our cognitive functioning.
  • It positively affects the transmission of nerve impulses that improve performance in short-term explosive efforts.

Muscular system

Improves muscle activation

How do we benefit? 

  • Reduces muscle soreness associated with training.
  • Raises anaerobic capacity making possible a higher work volume and increasing strength gains.

Energy systems 

Promotes fat mobilization and oxidation during physical activity. Increases the EPOC effect during the hours after training.

How do we benefit? 

  • By conserving glycogen and postponing fatigue, it improves performance, especially in endurance events.

Risks of coffee

In spite of the fact that coffee has a long list of benefits, there are several myths that make us doubt its value.

Coffee dehydrates

It is true that coffee acts as a natural diuretic, but the proportion in which it promotes dehydration is much lower than the amount of water we provide by drinking coffee.

So much so that the hydration we get with a coffee is almost the same as drinking the same amount of water.

Hypertension with coffee

Hypertension with coffee

It is true that coffee slightly increases blood pressure, but it is quantified at 2 mmHg and it happens:

  • in people who do not usually drink coffee
  • with a dose of at least 2 cups 
  • the effect lasts only a few hours

In summary we can say that the effect is quite irrelevant.

Coffee prohibited in pregnancy

It is not advisable not to exceed 200 mg per day (approximately two espressos) because caffeine, like the rest of what the mother ingests, is transferred to the fetus through the placenta. 

It should be taken into account that the total daily caffeine limit, if other caffeinated beverages are consumed, should also be taken into account in the calculation.

Of course, it is valid to drink decaffeinated coffee. It is recommended to choose quality coffees that have not used chemical methods.


As everything in the dose is the poison. The benefits of coffee are reported with an average consumption of between 2-4 coffees a day. Values above that are no longer beneficial.

Coffee vs. coffee supplement

Coffee is much more than caffeine. Its polyphenols contribute to increased fat oxidation and this is independent of caffeine. 

The caffeine in coffee is absorbed more quickly than that of the supplement.

The main benefit of the tablets is the accuracy of the dosagesince it is known in an exact way. On the other hand, the amount of caffeine in a coffee has many variables (type, preparation), but it can be generalized by saying that an espresso provides about 100 mg of caffeine.

Supplementation is also useful for those who do not like the taste of coffee and want to take it as a pre-workout.

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Benefits of decaffeinated coffee

Generally a decaffeinated coffee will not have the benefits of caffeinebut will continue to have the rest of benefits thanks to the supply of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols.

Decaffeinated coffee is still a good option for those people who are very sensitive to caffeine, it also to avoid drinking caffeine too lateor for those people who have already reached their daily dose.

Another option is to change the beverage and drink, for example, tea.

Decaffeinated coffee still contains a small amount of caffeine which in general has no effect on the general population, but may be perceived by those people who are very sensitive to caffeine.

Differences between normal and decaffeinated coffee

Both coffees share the general benefits of improvement in diabetes, glucose control, carcinoma, antioxidants, autophagy elevation, etc...., since it is mainly the polyphenols that provide these benefits. 

Sports performance

In the case of analyzing the improvement of sports performance, most of the benefits are obtained from the caffeine. so in this case, there are also differences between coffee with caffeine and without.

Depression and parksinson

There are also some differences in these cases. Regular coffee associated with fewer symptoms of depression and lower risk of Parkinson's disease than decaffeinated coffee. 

When to take caffeine?

Caffeine should be taken as a pre-workout. 30-60 minutes before physical activity in case we want to take advantage of its benefits for training.

For professional athletes or athletes with double sessions, caffeine post-workout may be of interest for its ingestion together with carbohydrate to accelerate glycogen replenishment and second session performance.

What dose of caffeine is recommended?

The general recommended dose is 3-6 mg/kg. If you choose to drink a coffee, make the following calculation: 50 kg of weight x 3 mg/kg = 150 mg. This would be approximately one and a half coffees.

It is recommended to start with the lower dose to observe your body's reaction.Not everyone has the same sensitivity to caffeine and some people may have gastrointestinal problems or excessive stimulation.

So that caffeine does not interfere with sleep it is important to avoid consumption 4-9 hours before bedtime.

It will depend on your genetics how long your body takes to eliminate caffeine from your body. Observe and adjust.

Is it advisable to take a break?

In most supplements short breaks are recommended. Many times it is not even necessary to program them, It is enough for us to stop taking it during our vacations.

But with caffeine it can vary:

  • In endurance sports it does not seem to be necessary to rest, since performance improvement is not reduced in regular caffeine consumers.
  • In strength-based training or explosiveness, yes seems to diminish the effects on a regular user.

If you need to cycle caffeine, use it for the week's toughest workouts and schedule breaks of 7-10 days from time to time. You can take a decaf as mentioned above.

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