Up until 2004, Caffeine use spent 20 years being limited in Olympic sport. It was possible for athletes to be thrown out of the competition if their urine contained more than 12 micrograms per millilitre of caffeine. But as studies evolved, it was soon found that the amount of caffeine required for performance enhancement was practically indistinguishable from everyday use. This is one of the reasons the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed caffeine from the list of prohibited substances. Although there were fears the lifted ban would lead to misuse, this just hasn't happened. So what benefits can you get from caffeine? According to rugby nutrition research, consuming 3-6mg of caffeine in liquid form, per kg of your body weight, can help enhance performance in athletes aged 18 and over. Part of this is due to the stimulated release of adrenaline which can prolong fatigue, ward off aches and pains and make you more alert. Delaying tiredness and feeling more alert, you might notice that the benefits are similar for both athletes and office dwellers. It is typically found that caffeine works best when taken an hour before performance. And if you’re competing in a late game, it is better to delay your first cup of coffee rather than double up with a second, pre-game cuppa in the afternoon. Some experts advise a 2pm cut off for caffeine intake as it has the potential to interfere with your sleep pattern. It can take around 8 hours to leave your system, so this is another factor to consider when timing your caffeine intake. If a cup of coffee isn’t your thing, you can get up to 50mg of caffeine from just 60g of dark chocolate, though this will vary for different brands. And although you can get 80mg of caffeine from 250ml or Red Bull, bear in mind that you will also be consuming around 6 teaspoons of sugar too. Of course, caffeine will affect each person differently, and if you are considering it as a serious part of your training you should tweak quantities and timings to help you get the results you want. But more importantly, it should be noted that caffeine is not going to perform miracles. It will never be a replacement for proper training, a balanced diet and using the right equipment for your game.
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