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It is National Caffeine Awareness Month, and we’d like to discuss the pros and cons of everyone’s favorite stimulant: caffeine. As martial artists, we know the importance of keeping our bodies in top condition. But how does caffeine fit into our training routine?

The Pros of Caffeine

If you do take caffeine in any form, you already know that it does have effects such as an increase in focus, alertness, and endurance. Hey, for some, it’s the only thing that will get you going in the morning like myself. Hell, don’t even talk to me if I haven’t had my morning cup of joe.

That first sip in the morning, especially when the house is quiet, and I’m the first one up, brings on that feeling of gratitude and ambition like no other. Believe me; I get it. Let’s face it. There will be times in life when you feel like your battery is low. Maybe from a lack of sleep, an overwhelming schedule of activity, gloomy weather, etc. Since we can’t go back in time and get more sleep last night, a dose of caffeine may be the only remedy at that time. And it could help.

Brain fog and muscle fatigue are natural for everyone, athletes and non-athletes. It isn’t the easiest thing to keep a high energy level with high morale 100% of the time. A dose of caffeine can immediately remedy these things and get you through a workout, project, or a long drive. There is some truth to that Red Bull is giving you wings.

Although I don’t suggest you try to pull off that aerial move, you’ve been dying to try it on the mat. There’s also a drink called “reality,” Lol.

Caffeine also has the benefit of staving off muscle soreness. It does have properties that transport proteins faster throughout your body to aid in muscle repair. With all these benefits, why would I not add caffeine to my regimen if I haven’t already? Slow down, tiger! There is a cost to everything. Read on.

The Cons of Caffeine

Caffeine is addicting. Just take a look at all the Starbucks stores within a few blocks of each other. No cap, but their coffee is not all that great (and I’m a coffee drinker), just like a McDonald’s burger is hardly a burger. But they sell like crazy.

No matter the amount, caffeine can and will also cause jitters for some. Excess amounts of it will make even the caffeine connoisseur have the case of the shakes. One thing you don’t ever want to have is bad sleep quality due to caffeine. But best believe it does happen. Then it becomes this never-ending cycle of “I didn’t get enough sleep, so I need more caffeine, and the caffeine kept me up all night, so I didn’t get enough sleep.”

Through my decades of experience with caffeine, as a young, super busy, full of energy, lack of sleep college student with a full load of classes and a nightly part-time job, an athlete, and now a career man, husband, and father, I have built ways of using caffeine to benefit me, without its ill effects.

It all comes down to timing and consumption. Take your form of caffeine as early as possible and very far away from your regular sleep time. Having a solid and consistent work and workout schedule can further help this, as you’ll know when you do need a jolt and when you don’t. For example, I have a cup of coffee once in the morning and then a cup of tea right after lunch, and that’s it! No more.

Don’t ingest any caffeine if you don’t need it. Caffeine shouldn’t be a social drink. Don’t have a coffee just because you’re going to the coffee shop with a friend. If you haven’t consciously scheduled it, don’t do it. And, of course, keep your dose to one serving. Don’t drink the whole carafe of coffee, and you don’t need the entire tall can of Monster. Yuck!

Caffeine-Free Alternatives & Random Facts about Caffeine

No matter what I have said in this blog or how I personally intake caffeine, YOU DON’T NEED IT. A consistent workout schedule and a healthy diet provide you with the best source of energy –  your natural energy.

Working out regularly keeps your throttle and fuel lines clean, and just like a car, when those things are clean and clear, and you have the proper fuel, your vehicle, in this case, your body, is a high-functioning machine.

Fun Facts

  • Did you know that caffeine is the world’s most widely used psychoactive drug? Caffeine is also called “an ergogenic aid”. This term is used by us kinesiologists. I guess it makes it sound less gravel than saying “psychoactive drug” Same same but different.
  • I once ordered the Jamaican blue mountain coffee at Philz. I thought it had more caffeine because it was 10 bucks a cup. Did I just get swindled? To this day, I still don’t know if it’s the caffeine in the Red Bull/Monster, or the vast amounts of sugar in those drinks that you’re getting high off of. Either way, I think it’s a rip-off.
  • Do you need a jolt and want to try something different? Try Vitamin B12, a smoothie with more citrus fruits, herbal tea, and a healthy meal.

In the spirit of National Caffeine Awareness Month, we challenge you to try a caffeine-free alternative next time you need a boost and share it with us.

Join us on Instagram and Facebook to share your favorite caffeine boosters and alternatives.

Whether you’re a die-hard coffee drinker or prefer to get your energy from a smoothie, we want to hear from you.

Use the hashtag #EvolveCaffeineAwarenessMonth and tag us @EvolveTrainingCenter to be featured on our social media pages and earn an additional raffle ticket.

You might just find a new favorite way to get your energy up. And remember, whether you’re fueled by caffeine or not, we’re all in this together as members of the Evolve Training Center community.

Let’s keep pushing each other to be the best we can be!

- Coach Mark