Caffeine is a legal performance enhancing substance that acts as a stimulant and is found in coffee beans, tea leaves, chocolate, cocoa beans, cola nuts, and guarana. Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system and your metabolic rate which results in increased energy and endurance, quicker reaction times, and lowers perceived exertion.
During exercise without caffeine stimulation, glycogen, glucose and amino acids are metabolized and used as energy. However, if caffeine is consumed, these molecules are spared and free fatty acids are metabolized instead. The increased levels of glucose in the body is then used to fuel your muscles which means a high blood sugar level for a longer period of time.
Research shows that in endurance sports, like cycling, caffeine intake of up to three milligrams per kilogram enhances performance at an average of two to five percent.
For these reasons, caffeine consumption has become a big part of the cycling culture. They tend to brew it at home using their favourite coffee machine and then take it with them in a flask.
Tolerance. Your body can build up a tolerance to caffeine. If you have an important ride coming up, taper off the caffeine prior to that special day, and return to consuming caffeine as before and during the big ride.
Time it Right. Keep in mind that caffeine will start to take affect approximately 60 minutes after ingestion. Split your caffeine intake accordingly.
Common Side Effects. Caffeine affects everyone differently. Common side effects due to caffeine consumption include increased heart rate, anxiety, high blood pressure, excess stomach acid, difficulty sleeping, and a reduced ability to perform detailed tasks. If you suffer from caffeine side effects, weigh out the pros and cons and decide whether or not you should partake in caffeine intake before or during your ride.