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Caffeine & Workouts

   Hello my name is James G. Pearo III and I am a Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) and Fitness Therapist (FT) with the International Sports Science Association (ISSA). I am also a health/wellness educator and franchise owner with Juice Plus. Juice Plus is an all natural, whole food based nutritional product made by juicing 17 of the best fruits and vegetables, then concentrating the juice into powders using proprietary, low temperature process. I primarily work as a union electrician out of local #98 in the city of brotherly love; Philadelphia, Pa. Philadelphia is a great city that has a ton of culture and history.

  Coffee shops such as Starbucks and Dunkin Doughnuts are numerous, but it’s the little coffee shops that I feel most comfortable. Getting up early and working out have become second nature to me, although difficult at first I eventually adjusted. I found that if I had put my work outs off until I got home from work, more times than not something would come up and I would miss yet another routine. Since joining the union I found myself chugging coffee like it was water. I didn’t know the side effects at the time, I was just following what most of my co-workers were doing. Being 19 and 1 year out of high school I didn’t know any better. Naturally I got an instant boost of energy and I thought to myself this may be a beneficial way of increasing my work outs intensity, and it was.

   As an apprentice co-workers would say, “get me a coffee with extra cream and 4 sugars, I’ll take a black with 10 sugars, not to many cappuccino drinkers on the job, at least not in front of the other workers etc…” WOW, no wonder diabetes, high blood pressure, fatigue, headaches and a whole slew of chronic diseases are on the rise. Slowly I fell into the rut of relying on coffee/caffeine to keep me going and started missing my morning work outs. This process took its toll on my body and I saw what it was doing too many of my friends and co-workers. Drinking coffee before work, at break time and at night, while eating infrequently and exercising even less takes its toll on a person. Eventually I learned what moderation was, proper nutrition, proper exercise and restructured my life. It seemed that people had noticed and started coming to me for tips or advice. Not that I have the physique of a body builder or got up on my soap box and preached to anyone walking by, I just tried to lead by example and started thinking I should learn as much as I could about fitness and proper nutrition before I start giving advice. Here I am now at 38 years old, two certifications later and I am starting my fitness career as well as working in construction. I hope to help as many people as I can achieve their fitness goals. Whether that means more gaining more energy and less pain through out their normal day, shedding body fat, packing on rock hard muscle or increasing their performance in a particular sport, I would love to help. Any way that’s how I got started, where it leads me I don’t now, but the journey is something that I am looking forward to experiencing!

   Eating healthier, becoming more active and getting adequate rest are 3 of the most important factors for improving the quality and longevity of our lives. It is up to us as individuals, to become proactive and incorporate these components into our daily fitness routine. So choose to live a longer and healthier life and help put a stop to most of these chronic diseases that plague our society today.


   Good ole caffeine, look around in the morning and you may be surprised, how many of us need it in order to start our day, boost our work outs or give us some pep for that late day meeting. Some people choose coffee (me), tea and many different kinds of sodas. Caffeine is in chocolate as well, but the dark is the healthy choice, full of antioxidants. It is estimated that over 70% of caffeine intake in the USA is from coffee, no wonder there are so many coffee shops, Starbucks and Dunkin Doughnuts in every city and town. It is so convenient to just stop in and order that mocha latte cappuccino.

Physiological and psychological effects of caffeine

   There in lies the problem, since many consumers opt for the high sugar and frothy kind, choc full of calories. Another down side of caffeine is that it is addictive, meaning that your body over time builds a tolerance, so in order to get the same effect you need to consume more. This can cause several possible problems such as; sleeping disorders, stomach problems, headaches, increase heart rate, increase blood pressure, it’s a diuretic (fluid loss) and it plays havoc with you hormones. I still drink my coffee, but now I limit how many I have, choose to limit my sugar/creamer intake and do not drink any 6 hours prior to bedtime (sleep). The reason that I stop my caffeine intake 6 hours prior to bed is simple. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 6 hours, each hour obviously the amount dissipates, but you can still have enough in you that will disrupt your sleep patterns and that is one of the three key components that we all need to improve upon.

   Now here are some of the good qualities of caffeine. First of caffeine is a stimulant which effects our central nervous system (CNS). It blocks or inhibits the neurotransmitter adenosine while releasing adrenaline (energy hormone) and dopamine (the pleasure hormone). This causes the adrenaline rush or buzz. Caffeine only, not coffee, tea, sodas etc… has been shown in aerobic type activities to enhance athletic performance. So much, that there is a limit that Olympic athletes can not have over their blood. ( Caffeine increases fat loss, increases your heart rate, increases adrenaline levels and increases glucose release into the bloodstream. There are several other effects as well but I am trying to make this as brief and to the point as possible. Now for body building or maximum muscular force activities, there is little to no evidence, besides psychological, of any performance enhancement. In fact caffeine has been shown to slow down the absorption of creatine, which is a key component for fuel (ATP) in anaerobic activities.

Personal experiences

   This will be brief; I have tried coffee, ripped fuel and 250-500mg caffeine pills when I was younger and all it did for me was make my heart race and made me feel jittery. Don’t get me wrong at first I thought it was the Holy Grail and the answer to intensifying my work outs, but I was young and uneducated. It is easy to say that it gave me more energy, but in reality it made me uneasy about my body and how I was feeling. The pounding of my heart actually scared me at times and I have a very healthy pumper.That seems to go against everything that I am trying to improve upon for myself and teach my clients today. Most of the time, it comes down to motivation from within and eating properly. Many of us have a hard time getting motivated and feel the need to look elsewhere (pills, powders, drinks, etc…). The supplement companies have a vested interest is selling as much crap as it can. They are making inaccurate statements and getting huge body builders or actors/actresses with little or no morals to back their product. They stretch the truth and can legally get away with it due to a lack of standards set forth. That seems to be a common thread or hurdle that we must all learn to grasp and recognize. There are some (few) supplements that when taken in moderation will help your fitness performance, but for the general public you really just need to eat better and exercise properly. Set your goals, make a plan and look for others for inspiration. Staying self motivated and determined will get you through most of your fitness obstacles as well as anything life may throw your way. Do not turn to pills for the answer to getting in shape! There are some very popular magazines that promote pills, powders and drinks, but I am more skeptical. More research should be done with more clinical proof that there are no adverse side effects. Until then, natural whole food nutrition, proper exercise and adequate rest are my recommendations.

   First thing is always consult you physician before starting any nutritional program, fitness program or any supplementation. The effects of caffeine and exercise in my opinion are dependant upon which type of exercise routine being performed. If you are consuming too high amounts of caffeine products through out the day or at the wrong times, especially at night, this will interfere with your exercise routine no matter what you are doing. I would suggest that you forego caffeine as an exercise supplement unless you do not ingest any caffeine through out the day except for your aerobic/endurance type workout routine. You would be better suited to eat more natural whole foods, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest. If you feel like you really need that boost, have no medical constraints and you are doing aerobic/endurance type activities, limit your daily intake of coffee/caffeine and take no more then 200-350 mg of caffeine pills 60-90 minutes prior to your activity. If you are doing anaerobic type activities I would definitely advise against caffeine supplementation. Anything that could interfere with creatine transfer for ATP production during shorter duration higher intensity or maximum muscular force exercises would be counter productive. Much more research is needed and there are some reports that are conflicting.

  So enjoy your caffeinated beverages (except soda) and occasional dark chocolates in moderation. Do not give up all the things that give you pleasure, just limit what you can and if possible eliminate the worst. I love a good cup of java, I have just learned when to enjoy it and ways to order my coffee so that I can limit all those liquid calories that can put a halt my fitness goals.

This article was provided by JGP Strength & Fitness Training
For more information on JGP Strength & Fitness Training, check out their full profile here.
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