Should You Drink Coffee Before a Ride?

09
Apr
2013

Coffee Before You Ride

Question:

I love coffee and have managed to cut back from 4 cups per day to just 1 cup every morning over the last 6 months.  If I’m going on a long ride that begins in the morning, is it still okay to drink my coffee before I go?

Kelli’s Answer:

Thanks for a caffeine question!  First, great job on cutting back on coffee (I say this from a sports nutrition perspective more than a wellness one).  The issue with being a coffee-dependent athlete is that you’ve trained your body to require a certain amount of caffeine in order to simply get to baseline.  Six months ago, you weren’t at baseline until you had 4 cups.  So, if you could only get in 1 before a ride, you started in a deficit as far as cell stimulation – this mostly effects your mental status, but it has a significant effect.

Being below your baseline can cause an increased sense of effort (when you just “feel” like you’re draggin’), headaches, and fatigue.  So now, for optimal performance, I do recommend that you consume your baseline caffeine before a long rides – 1 cup of medium strength coffee has about 80-120 mg caffeine (depending on your definition of medium strength).

If it doesn’t cause stomach or GI issues for you, you can go ahead and get this through coffee before a ride – but, on a personal level, you may find that coffee and riding equals an emergency potty break, and I’m not talking about the kind you can drip-dry.  If this is the case for you, you may have to find alternative caffeine sources (you can try cold coffee, 5 hour energy, dark-brewed tea, or gels w/ 2x caffeine (15 minutes before starting).  Or, wean yourself to not being dependent on it for your baseline.

There are studies that show benefit to consuming caffeine.  However, the benefit comes from amounts over baseline or in those who don’t routinely ingest it.

Of note, I do also use caffeine personally and with clients as “during training” nutrition, on really long events, when I know I may hit a wall and need more of a boost.  For example, it can help if you know you have a long climb or push towards the end of a ride, and you may need both physical and mental stimulation.  If you want to use it, know that it takes ~15 minutes to hit your blood stream.   And, if you still have a long way to go, you’ll likely have to continue to consume it in regular ~30-45 minute intervals in order to not “crash.”

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

Enjoy Your Ride

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Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.

Answer:

Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

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