Caffeine: Why it helps during exercise

In endurance events, the first cause of fatigue is loss of muscle sugar, so athletes do whatever they can to preserve sugar levels. Caffeine causes the body to produce large amounts of adrenalin, which causes fat to be released from fat cells and float in the bloodstream. This extra fat is taken up by the muscles and used for energy, thus preserving the body's limited stored supply of muscle sugar. When muscles run our of sugar, the athlete requires more oxygen to do the same job, slows down, fatigues earlier, and has difficulty maintaining his performance.

A questionnaire from competitors at the 2005 Ironman Triathlon World Championships showed that seventy-three percent of the athletes believe that caffeine improves performance and 84 percent believe it improves concentration. During competition, 65 percent used cola drinks and 24 percent used caffeinated gels. Although caffeine can increase risk for heat stroke and theoretically can cause irregular heartbeats, almost none of the athletes reported suffering any side effects from taking caffeine.
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