Yes, it's true, I love my caffeine. My form of choice is in coffee or espresso. But what is the real truth about caffeine and it's affects on cycling. Here are a few that I discovered while researching.
The jolt is real. The performance boost you get from caffeine is a result of how it hot-wires your central nervous system. You become more alert, you react faster, and you don't feel like you're working as hard, all of which add up to training or competing at a higher intensity for a longer period of time and being more agile in a pack.
It will not dehydrate you. In reasonable doses, caffeine alone won't lead to more bathroom breaks during a ride or a greater risk of dehydration. The long-held belief that caffeine can muck with your body's ability to regulate heat during exercise in hot weather has also been muted by science.
It affects everyone differently. Test what caffeine does to you before heading out for a specific event. If you feel jittery, anxious or notice your heart racing, cut back the amount you take in before a ride.
You can develop a tolerance. Your body eventually adapts to the effects of caffeine, limiting performance benefit. Taper your intake for several days prior to a long ride, saving the higher amounts of caffeine for before and during the actual event.
Timing is everything. It takes 60 minutes for caffeine to start affecting the body so adjust your intake properly. Aim for 100mg one hour before you get on the bike and 50mg at the beginning of each hour thereafter.
Training trumps it. While caffeine can boost performance by 3-5 percent, training can bring about improvements by upwards of 50 percent. There is also the possibility of getting over-amped and going out too hard too soon, leaving you with nothing in the tank well before the ride's end.
Australian researchers found that when cyclists refueled with carbohydrates and caffeine after a ride, they accululated 66 percent more muscle glycogen than when they ate only carbs. Here is a bar recipe that has combines both.
2 teaspoons instant expresso powder
1 1/2 cup dates, chopped
1 cup figs, chopped
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts
1/3 cup hempseeds
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or coffee extract
In a bowl, dissolve expresso powder in 1/2 cup boiling water and set aside to cool.
In a food processor, pulverize dates, figs, nuts and hempseeds. Add expresso, cocoa, cinnamon, orange zest, and extract. Process until clumps form. Place mixture on a lightly greased baking sheet and form into 1/2 inch thick square. Freeze for 30 minutes, then slice into 10 bars. Per bar-177 calories, 7 grams fat, 30g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 5g protein, a5mg caffeine. Enjoy!