Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

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jamix
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Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby jamix » Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:30 am

I've read many articles and testimonials that mentions caffeine's performance enhancing effects. I've read similar statements with respect to carb-loading.

However I've noticed that while one has become common practice, the other has not, and is even discouraged by some. I personally can testify to this. When I've mention to individuals what I may have eaten or done to over-compensate my carb stores, I get positive feedback. On the other hand, when I once told my Dad that I took 400 mg of caffeine in the hopes of boosting my performance, he said "Don't you think thats a little extreme?".

What are your thoughts? Do you attempt to caffeine load along with your carb-loading?
2013 GOALS:

- Compete in the "Early Bird Sprint Triathlon" in May
- Run a 5km pb during the "Bushtukah Canada Day Road Race"
- Complete an Olympic distance triathlon
- Cycle > 33 km / hr during the cycle portion of a Sprint Triathlon.
- Stay healthy and happy

Races

April 28th: Manotick 10km (40:16)
May 18th: Ottawa Early Bird Sprint Triathlon (DNF)
June 8th: Riverkeeper SuperSprint (2nd overall)
July 1st: Bushtukah Canada Day 5km (18:37)

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SteveF
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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby SteveF » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:52 am

I don't carb load in the traditional sense (ie. do a depletion run a week out, then refill a couple days before the event). But I eat enough carbs on a regular basis. I don't believe in the big pasta dinner the night before the race, even though I may do it :wink: . As far as caffeine, nothing but my regular morning coffee and whatever may be in my gels on longer races. I go into my races knowing what I'm capable of based on training and routine, rather than doing something different one time to try and produce better results.

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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby QuickChick » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:32 am

I thought there was quite a bit of research on the benefits of caffeine. What I'm not sure of, and what I'd be interested to find out, is what the maximum is that you can have in your system before it a) stops working or b) becomes detrimental (doesn't caffeine speed up your heart rate?). I know I don't function without caffeine, and I run way better after I have coffee, but I'm an experiment of one. :)

I do know that it's totally different than carb loading, though. Carbs stay in your system for a much longer time, hence the "loading up". Caffeine stays in your body a short time, so I don't think you could load up on it. You'd have to just take the dosage right before you ran.
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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby RayMan » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:47 am

I love coffee but whenever I drink too much on any given day (for me that's more than 4 mugs) I get dizzy and a little spaced-out. I don't think I would get any benefit in a race from that kind of feeling, so I can't imagine caffeine-loading.

Love carb-loading though, usually have pasta and a beer the night before a marathon. :)

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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:22 am

Caffine is not a substitue for carbs. Hence, when the glycogen is used up, caffeine won't help you with the wall, but some gel will.
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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby Pat Menzies » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:37 am

Caffeine helps the body mobilize and burn fatty acids rather than carbs so how could it not help with the wall? So much training philosophy for long races centres on burning fat rather than carbs for endurance exercise.
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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:01 am

Pat Menzies wrote:Caffeine helps the body mobilize and burn fatty acids rather than carbs so how could it not help with the wall? So much training philosophy for long races centres on burning fat rather than carbs for endurance exercise.

Interesting!
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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby PinkLady » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:24 am

I say, BOTH! :lol:

Okay, well.....I like caffeinated gels and my coffee, but I don't use both. It skyrockets my heart rate and makes me really really jittery if I have too much caffeine. I was also reading recently about too much caffeine being linked to cardiac arrests and heart problems in marathon racers.....wish I could remember exactly where, it was a RW or some such article linked off of Slowtwitch. :think: The heart problems were linked with a lot of caffeine though - like, 500mg+ within hours of the race.

If I'm going on a long run, I like to alternate caffeinated gels with non caff ones, because all that sugar plus too much caffeine plays havoc with my system, makes me a little nauseous because I'm so shakey.

I don't know how much merit linking caffeine to heart issues in runners has......but, caffeine is a drug, so I prefer to keep it in moderation. Why risk it? At least carbs, worse case scenario, will only make you fat!
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jamix
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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby jamix » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:49 am

500 mg is a lot... I personally take no more than 400 mg and sometimes even just 200 mg. I use pills and not coffee. The caffeine in coffee may not work.

I don't think taking high does of caffeine occasionally is bad for your health, unless you have a particular heart condition or problem. It will raise your heart rate and blood pressure, but these will go back down to normal within 24 hours.
2013 GOALS:

- Compete in the "Early Bird Sprint Triathlon" in May
- Run a 5km pb during the "Bushtukah Canada Day Road Race"
- Complete an Olympic distance triathlon
- Cycle > 33 km / hr during the cycle portion of a Sprint Triathlon.
- Stay healthy and happy

Races

April 28th: Manotick 10km (40:16)
May 18th: Ottawa Early Bird Sprint Triathlon (DNF)
June 8th: Riverkeeper SuperSprint (2nd overall)
July 1st: Bushtukah Canada Day 5km (18:37)

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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby PinkLady » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:01 am

jamix wrote:500 mg is a lot... I personally take no more than 400 mg and sometimes even just 200 mg. I use pills and not coffee. The caffeine in coffee may not work.

I don't think taking high does of caffeine occasionally is bad for your health, unless you have a particular heart condition or problem. It will raise your heart rate and blood pressure, but these will go back down to normal within 24 hours.


Dammit, I can't find the article now. :? But anywho, the problem with this thinking is that a lot of people might have small congenital heart defects that they don't know about....small enough not to affect their daily lives, or even their athletic ones, but it's there.....and this small defect can finally be triggered into a catastrophic problem with the extreme anaerobic conditions of racing especially when exacerbated by excess caffeine.

Anyways, I'm not trying to say you should live in fear, or that caffeine is evil or anything like that, but for me - I prefer to limit my consumption to food and coffee, in moderation, since caffeine even at low moderate doses affects my heart rate on a normal day. I don't want to test the limit with too much caffeine on race day. But, YMMV of course.
Sandra...Air Force wife & Professional Kid Wrangler...I knit to stay sane, I run to eat!
2012 - year of perseverance, endurance, survival, and earning blackmail material for life. :D
My running log: http://www.runningmania.com/forum/viewt ... 18&t=44092

PB's:
Army Run HM (Sep 18, 2011) - 1:55:14

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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby दिवंगत » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:44 am

I wouldn't call it caffeine loading but I do take a shot of caffeine before a race in pill form; I think it definitely helps. Incidentally, that's the only time my body sees caffeine, I've cut it out of my regular diet completely (no coffee, tea, soda, etc....) for the last five years or so.

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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby ian » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:14 am

Pat Menzies wrote:Caffeine helps the body mobilize and burn fatty acids rather than carbs so how could it not help with the wall? So much training philosophy for long races centres on burning fat rather than carbs for endurance exercise.

I have 100mg of caffeine gum ten minutes before the start of a marathon for exactly this reason.

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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby canalrunner » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:03 pm

I have two coffees in the morning before the marathon so I can wake up and face the right way at the start line. :D
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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby MichaelMc » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:32 pm

I think there are a couple of elements at play here.

First, the science behind caffeine as a preformance aid is mixed. Some studies show positive, others show negetive, some show no effect. I would say it is generally accepted to have a small positive effect overall.

Second, it is a drug, and by definition a "performance enhancing drug" if it does do what you're hoping. Many people draw a line between food and a performance enhancing drug. Caffeine is banned at certain levels in the bloodstream, so while it is not completely banned, it is banned at levels where it is obviously for the purpose of performance rather than for your morning coffee.

I used to have a gym with a store selling supplements and one that was legal at that time was Ephedrine. We had guys who took them by the handfull to really rev up their workout; "stacked" with Caffeine and Asprin they are strong and long lasting. Does that sound extreme? Well for many it is all a "grey area". Draw your line where you feel like it: I have my morning coffee before a race, even two, but wouldn't choose to fire down "wake ups" or caffeine gum.

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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby दिवंगत » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:43 pm

MichaelMc wrote:I have my morning coffee before a race, even two, but wouldn't choose to fire down "wake ups" or caffeine gum.

So, for you, even if the amount of caffeine is the same you consider the delivery mechanism is a differentiating factor? Seriously?

Your arrogance is truly breath-taking sometimes.

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Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby SteveF » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:50 pm

I would presume Michael means someone who takes extreme doses for performance rather then simply having a red bull or caffeine pill to get them going. To me it's like a lot of other discussions on here - why bother, none of us are elites!

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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby RayMan » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:14 pm

ian wrote:
Pat Menzies wrote:Caffeine helps the body mobilize and burn fatty acids rather than carbs so how could it not help with the wall? So much training philosophy for long races centres on burning fat rather than carbs for endurance exercise.

I have 100mg of caffeine gum ten minutes before the start of a marathon for exactly this reason.


I googled caffeine content and found that a cup of coffee has 108 mg per 8 ounces, so my morning coffee gives me about the same "edge". How does the gum taste? :?

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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby Jwolf » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:23 pm

Pat Menzies wrote:Caffeine helps the body mobilize and burn fatty acids rather than carbs so how could it not help with the wall? So much training philosophy for long races centres on burning fat rather than carbs for endurance exercise.

This is one of those things I will never fully understand. I always thought that fat-burning, being an inherently slower process, is something that happens more AFTER you hit the wall (ultramarathons notwithstanding...). But people always talk about learning to burn fat more effectively for marathons-- is this really what we are trying to do?
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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby MichaelMc » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:37 pm

140.6 wrote:
MichaelMc wrote:I have my morning coffee before a race, even two, but wouldn't choose to fire down "wake ups" or caffeine gum.

So, for you, even if the amount of caffeine is the same you consider the delivery mechanism is a differentiating factor? Seriously?

Your arrogance is truly breath-taking sometimes.


Read it again. "Draw your line where you feel like it: I have my morning coffee before a race, even two, but wouldn't choose to fire down "wake ups" or caffeine gum."

So I'm not free to choose?

I am not judging other people. Nor am I name calling: I'd appreciate the same courtesy.

I'm friends with Ian and if he felt there was an insinuation he could pick up the phone or write me an e-mail.

If you have an issue with me I'd suggest you p message, e-mail me or call me too. :wink:

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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby MichaelMc » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:46 pm

Jwolf wrote:
Pat Menzies wrote:Caffeine helps the body mobilize and burn fatty acids rather than carbs so how could it not help with the wall? So much training philosophy for long races centres on burning fat rather than carbs for endurance exercise.

This is one of those things I will never fully understand. I always thought that fat-burning, being an inherently slower process, is something that happens more AFTER you hit the wall (ultramarathons notwithstanding...). But people always talk about learning to burn fat more effectively for marathons-- is this really what we are trying to do?


Jen, bodies always burn all types of fuel, only the proportion of each changes. Over time distance training increases the percentage of fat utilized at "x" pace in two ways. First, the same effort yeilds a faster pace, and second, even at the same effort an experienced distance runner will be using more fat than when s/he was less well trained. It is postulated this is due to changes in fast twitch/slow twitch fibres and/or changes in mitochonddrial density. The question isn't whether bodies become able to burn more fat at a certain intensity or not, it is whether depriving yourself of carbs has any effect (and/or if it has enough effect to counter the negetive effects).

I don't like the "learning to burn fat" terminology, for much the same reason: we are always burning fat, so there is nothing to "learn".

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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby Jwolf » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:49 pm

MichaelMc wrote:
Jwolf wrote:
Pat Menzies wrote:Caffeine helps the body mobilize and burn fatty acids rather than carbs so how could it not help with the wall? So much training philosophy for long races centres on burning fat rather than carbs for endurance exercise.

This is one of those things I will never fully understand. I always thought that fat-burning, being an inherently slower process, is something that happens more AFTER you hit the wall (ultramarathons notwithstanding...). But people always talk about learning to burn fat more effectively for marathons-- is this really what we are trying to do?


Jen, bodies always burn all types of fuel, only the proportion of each changes. Over time distance training increases the percentage of fat utilized at "x" pace in two ways. First, the same effort yeilds a faster pace, and second, even at the same effort an experienced distance runner will be using more fat than when s/he was less well trained. It is postulated this is due to changes in fast twitch/slow twitch fibres and/or changes in mitochonddrial density. The question isn't whether bodies become able to burn more fat at a certain intensity or not, it is whether depriving yourself of carbs has any effect (and/or if it has enough effect to counter the negetive effects).

I don't like the "learning to burn fat" terminology, for much the same reason: we are always burning fat, so there is nothing to "learn".


So bottom line-- just train. I like that.
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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby Nicholas » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:51 pm

SteveF wrote:I would presume Michael means someone who takes extreme doses for performance rather then simply having a red bull or caffeine pill to get them going.

That is exactly how I read it. Even if it were just a statement of choice, I could see that as a legitimate point of view...some folks are not into popping pills to help them but are OK with their regular, morning Java. It certainly doesn't deserve the throw-away comment at the end. And that comment definitely falls outside the rules for respectful conversation on this forum.

Can we get back to the details of the topic at hand in an objective manner????
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Re: Caffeine loading vs Carb loading

Postby ian » Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:01 pm

Whoa, lots happening here...

RayMan wrote:I googled caffeine content and found that a cup of coffee has 108 mg per 8 ounces, so my morning coffee gives me about the same "edge". How does the gum taste?

I like the gum. I don't drink coffee anymore because it does weird things to my digestion. I use the gum on a daily basis, including race days.

Jwolf wrote:This is one of those things I will never fully understand. I always thought that fat-burning, being an inherently slower process, is something that happens more AFTER you hit the wall (ultramarathons notwithstanding...). But people always talk about learning to burn fat more effectively for marathons-- is this really what we are trying to do?

To add to Michael's response, my goal in a marathon is to ration a finite supply of glycogen (topped up slightly during the race) to the finish line so as to maintain an even pace. This necessitates that some of my energy comes from fat, and while this indeed happens to varying degrees anyways, I'm especially trying to encourage it during the early stages of a race. Most of this is training, i.e., becoming more fuel efficient at paces just off LT, but if caffeine happens to make it easier for my muscles to burn a bit more fat, all the better.


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