Caffeine is one popular drug, both inside and outside bodybuilding circles. Outside of the gym, over 90 percent of Americans use the drug on a daily basis to help get themselves moving in the morning, or to keep moving in the evening. It’s addictive and it delivers a much-desired boost of energy to many people who can’t find that energy otherwise. Inside the gym, caffeine is very popular for helping athletes to train hard when they don’t really feel like training. Rare will you see a bodybuilder without his trust green or neon pink colored energy drink bottle, loaded with 150 to 200 mg of caffeine. The latest generation of energy drink has pushed things like never before with a drink offering 400 mg of caffeine in a single workout drink. This is on par with four cups of regular coffee, or eight cans of cola! Bodybuilders are some of the worst offenders when it comes to a caffeine abuse.
This isn’t to say that caffeine doesn’t have its benefits. Alert bodybuilders are more likely to train to their potential, and less likely to lack the energy to show up in the first place. He who trains harder will grow more. Additionally, caffeine has a great role in the ECA stack, a very popular combination of ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin which many bodybuilders use to boost metabolism and lose body fat. It isn’t all roses, however. Let’s look at some of the risks associated with caffeine use of which every bodybuilder should be aware.
Caffeine raises Type II insulin resistance. If you’re trying to get lean, this is ideal. If you’re trying to add muscle, however, you are in for a world of hurt! You need this insulin in order to grow. Remember that most of the athletes you see on top bodybuilding stages use insulin. Why would you want to cause your body to be more resistant to the very powerful and useful insulin? You wouldn’t!
Bodybuilders tend to weigh more than their sedentary, weaker counterparts. This often leads to elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, even among healthy bodybuilders who complete plenty of cardiovascular training and eat very clean diets. The human heart doesn’t have any idea if the 250 pounds it’s pumping blood to are comprised of muscle or fat. It only knows that’s a lot of blood, and a lot of hard work. The use of caffeine works to further elevate your blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease.
In addition to these concerns, there is a growing belief in bodybuilding research circles that caffeine completely reverses effects of creatine in the body. Many supplement producers have stopped ‘stacking’ the two in their product because more is being learned about caffeine. Loading creatine while taking a lot of caffeine runs completely contrary to your goal of holding more water in the body.
The bottom line on caffeine is that if you already have the muscle you want, you are not loading creatine, and you aren’t at all worried about your blood pressure, it can be a useful tool for helping to shed body fat in the pre-contest phase. It doesn’t seem to have much place at the table for the off-season bodybuilder seeking to make muscular gains.
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