Ninety percent of Americans consume some form of caffeine daily. Most choose coffee or soda as their delivery system, and depend upon its effects to stay awake and alert when facing the workday.
There are many positive effects that caffeine has upon the bodybuilder looking to lose body fat or train harder. First off, caffeine raises energy levels and promotes mental awareness. For a trainer in the gym looking for the energy to train for 90 minutes, or achieve the mental focus to hit a new personal best on the bench press, caffeine is a wonderful tool. For pre-contest athletes, caffeine as part of an ECA stack (ephedrine, aspirin, and caffeine) is very effective for shedding body fat and curbing appetite. Caffeine improves breathing (excellent for getting through those long sets when lungs feel like they might explode). Many believe caffeine curbs eating by slightly reducing the appetite. And nearly every weight-loss supplement on the market contains caffeine – that should tell you something.
Caffeine does have some negative effects for the bodybuilder looking to add muscle. Long-term use causes the consumer to feel nervous or jittery – and you know how rare it is to see a large muscular person who isn’t of a relaxed disposition. Caffeine is a natural stimulant, and that last thing that a trainer wants when trying to add new muscle is a stimulant effect. The constriction effect – the slight tightening of blood vessels – means less blood flows from the heart to the muscle groups in need of vital amino acids and protein following workouts. The appetite-suppression effect – so desirable when losing weight – is very bad for trainers having a hard time eating enough food to effectively add mass.
Caffeine has a place in most nutritional and supplemental regimens. If you’re seeking a boost to current workouts, supplement drinks with caffeine can add that desired edge. If looking to lose weight, caffeine (as part of an ECA stack, or by itself) is remarkably effective and used by nearly all bodybuilders. However, if the goal is to add muscle mass, as few stimulants as possible should be consumed, and since caffeine does sit at the top of commonly used stimulant list, it needs to be first on the chopping block. Use caffeine like most other supplements: Cycle on and off based upon the current goals. The body is a highly adaptive machine, and quickly adjusts to caffeine. Used wisely and in conjunction with goals, caffeine is a terrific nutritional supplement. However, nonstop use, regardless of bodybuilding goals, is not productive.