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By Adam Galuszka
June 15, 2014

Once a banned substance in many competitive sports, caffeine has had a less-than-desirable reputation. While there are many theories and opinions circulating about the benefits or negatives of caffeine, it actually has a very important place in the world of sports. Caffeine has been scientifically proven to increase the number of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream. This means that muscles can absorb and burn fat for fuel first, allowing the body to save precious glycogen stores and delay muscle fatigue and mental fatigue as well. Caffeine also increases the amount of adrenaline in the body. When adrenaline is dumped into your system a rush of glucose and oxygen is flushed into the muscles. At the same time, caffeine increases heart rate and improves blood flow throughout the body. Extra oxygen in the body and more blood flowing puts you at an advantage whether it’s athletically, or just trying to stay awake, alert and focused in life. Caffeine also boosts power by reducing the burning sensation you feel as a result of lactic acid. Lactic acid builds up in the muscles as glycogen is depleted, so if you can reduce the amount of glycogen that you need to pull from your reserves, you also reduce the pain associated with burning that fuel. So how do you properly use caffeine to your advantage during a workout? If you’re doing a shorter workout you want to take caffeine 30 minutes to an hour before your workout, as it takes 30-45 minutes to absorb into the bloodstream. Drinking something like Vega Pre-workout Energizer, Gnarly Pump, Guyaki Energy Shots (or even a cup of coffee, we're obviously partial to Box Car and Stoked) before a short (1 hour) workout can help you maximize your time by delaying fatigue and allowing you to push yourself harder for longer before your performance starts to suffer. You can also fill your bottle with a caffeinated hydration mix for a sustained boost throughout your workout. We love Skratch Labs Matcha + LemonsNuun Energy and CamelBak Elixir with caffeine. During exercise, high doses of caffeine use should be saved until the second half or towards the end of a workout. You don’t want to ingest caffeine too early because once you start you need to keep taking it in every 30-45 minutes to avoid an energy crash. For an end-of-workout boost gels or chews with caffeine are fantastic. Some options with caffeine we love are Espresso GUClif Blok in Orange or Black Cherry, or Bonk Breaker Energy Chews in Strawberry. For cyclists this translates to the last 1 hour of a long 3+ hour ride. Or, if you are a triathlete or runner, using caffeine evenly throughout the second half of a multi-sport workout or long distance run. You don’t need to fear caffeine. When used properly, it can be a great asset for athletes.   Want to win some FREE caffeine?! Enter our Great Coffee Giveaway here: Coffee Giveaway