Is your Jiu-Jitsu class early in the morning? Maybe you had a long day at work and it’s 8 pm and you hardly have any energy left to train, should you have some caffeine? This article will go through the 3 common types of caffeine sources to help you decide if one of them is right for you and what you can expect when taking caffeine.
Caffeine before Jiu-Jitsu can improve your productivity in a class by increasing energy, focus, and mentality. It can come at the cost of the following side-effects: jitters, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, insomnia, or withdrawal. There are many ways to consume caffeine, the most popular being coffee (or green tea), energy drinks, and pre-workout supplements.
What Does Caffeine Do?
Coffee, energy drinks, and pre-workout all share a similar primary ingredient, caffeine. Caffeine affects the central nervous system and can increase alertness, energy, mood, and mental focus. Caffeine will temporarily increase raise heart rate and blood pressure. If you have heart disease it may be dangerous to take, especially in higher doses energy drinks and pre-workouts typically contain.
Taking caffeine will wake you up and its peak effectiveness generally occurs 1 hour after consumption. It will stay in the body for up to 4-6 hours. This is important to know, especially for people that train in the evening.
Caffeine sensitive people or people that do not consume caffeine regularly should keep this in mind as caffeine in the evening can keep you up.
Even moderate amounts of caffeine can cause insomnia and those effects can become stronger as you grow older. Make sure you time your caffeine properly if you do choose to take it. It may take a few tries to get it right too!
Curious about the caffeine content in your coffee, tea, energy drink, or soda? Check out this handy website that has a database of the caffeine contents of many different drinks and brands: Caffeine Database.
What Do Stimulants Do During Jiu-Jitsu?
Stimulants during Jiu-Jitsu can increase performance by allowing for greater maximal oxygen uptake (VO₂max), better aerobic and anaerobic performance, more mental awareness, increased power output. Keep in mind that Jiu-Jitsu is an intense activity that will raise your heart rate very high, so taking stimulants that will increase your blood pressure and heart rate can be dangerous.
Increasing VO₂max levels allow your body to more efficiently use the oxygen you breathe in. The more oxygen you can use the more lactic acid is removed from the blood.
When there is not enough oxygen lactic acid buildup occurs which prevents the muscles from breaking down glucose and glycogen.
Too Much Caffeine?
Too much caffeine before Jiu-Jitsu can give you the jitters throughout the class, increase your heart rate higher than normal, reduce technical proficiency from having too much energy, or cause frequent bathroom breaks.
Jitters during Jiu-Jitsu is almost worst than feeling tired. This sensation can cause you to feel unsettled or make it hard to concentrate. Unfortunately, jitters can last for several hours.
Too much caffeine can give individuals too much energy. Jiu-Jitsu is methodical and technical and having too much energy may cause you to rush drilling or technical setups. It can be more beneficial to approach class in a calm state.
Other times, the amount of caffeine you have could cause your heart to start pounding! Ever have an intense rolling session and your heart feels like it is beating out of your chest? Imagine starting a rolling session with your heart already in that state! First, it can be dangerous, and second, it is not comfortable.
First-time users of pre-workouts may experience this as they are typically high caffeine or people that are caffeine sensitive.
Finally, caffeine will make you have to pee more often. You’re drinking water to stay hydrated, you’re drinking beverages that contain caffeine, and before you know it you’re running to the washroom between every roll.
How To Calculate Your Max Heart Rate
To calculate what your approximate maximum heart rate is: Max Heart Rate = 220bpm – your age. Zone 1 will be 50-60% of this number, Zone 2 will be 60-70%, and so on. Zone Heart Rate = Max Heart Rate * Zone%.
|Zone||Intensity||Percentage of HRmax|
|Zone 1||Very light||50–60%|
It is important to note that conditioning yourself and doing more cardio will keep your heart rate lower as your heart won’t have to work as hard to circulate oxygen and blood to your body.
Coffee Before Jiu-Jitsu Class?
One cup of coffee has ~90mg of caffeine which gives you a caffeine boost without being over the top. One cup of coffee can still give you the jitters, eating properly beforehand can help reduce the chance of getting the jitters. Be sure you brush your teeth before class to get rid of coffee breath; unless of course that’s your strategy!
How Are Energy Drinks Before Class?
One energy drink typically has 160mg of caffeine per 16oz can or ~80mg per cup. Energy drinks are high in sugar (unless you buy no sugar) and contain taurine, glucuronolactone, B vitamins, guarana, ginseng, ginkgo Biloba. They will give you a boost of energy with added focus from the additional supplements in them.
Most energy drinks are carbonated which can enhance digestion by improving swallowing ability and reducing constipation. However, you will have to determine for yourself if having a carbonated beverage before a high-intensity activity sits well in your stomach.
Energy drinks are expensive and high in sugar which is their biggest downside compared to other caffeine sources like coffee.
|Improve blood sugar control||New studies are not showing any side effects of taurine as of writing this article. Below is a list of side effects from older studies.|
|Helps maintain proper hydration and electrolyte balance in your cells||Dizziness|
|Helps with digestion||Headache|
|Regulates minerals such as calcium within your cells|
|Supports your central nervous system and eyes|
|Contains antioxidant benefits|
|[B3-Niacin] Converts fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and starches into usable energy||[B3-Niacin] Elevated doses can cause skin flushing in some people|
|[B3-Niacin]Helps remove toxic chemicals from the body||[B3-Niacin] Can cause the skin to feel itchy|
|[B6] Helps the nervous system function properly|
|[B6] Improves red blood cells to increase transportation of oxygen and carbon dioxide|
|[B6] Helps maintain a healthy immune system|
|[B6] Aids in the processing of carbohydrates for energy|
|[B12] Reduces fatigue|
|[B12] Optimizes memory function|
|[B12] Help with the production of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) to prevent depression|
|[B12] Helps with protein production|
|Rich in Antioxidants||Heart Palpitations|
|Reduce Fatigue and Improve Focus||Insomnia|
|Improve your ability to learn and remember||Seizures|
|Help promote weight loss||Anxiety|
|Natural stomach tonic to treat digestive problems||Nervousness|
|May reduce the risk of heart disease||Headaches|
|Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties||Nervousness|
|Improve brain functions like memory, behavior, and mood||Insomnia|
|May strengthen the immune system||Changes in blood pressure|
|Maintains the health of cells|
|Helps fight fatigue and promote energy|
|Control of blood glucose in people|
Is Pre-Workout Good For Jiu-Jitsu?
Pre-workout will increase energy, concentration, endurance, and improved mood; however, it can cause many people to experience jitters, itchy skin (from the Beta-alanine), and bowel movement. Pre-workout has an advantage over coffee and energy drinks from the creatine content that contains, but, pre-workout is expensive and not regulated by the FDA.
Pre-workout is my energy source of choice but I have a higher tolerance for caffeine and have been taking pre-workout for many years now. I never recommend pre-workout to people who have never taken it because it is expensive and it can be addictive from the energy boost you get.
It must be noted that some pre-workouts can be contaminated or have new ingredients in them that could fail a drug test. If you remember the pre-workout Craze you know all about this. If you do not, it was found that Craze pre-workout contained an ingredient that resembled methamphetamine.
Craze, which is widely sold in the United States, tested positive for the methamphetamine analog N,a-diethyl-phenylethylamine (N,a-DEPEA), according to the report. Furthermore, the researchers noted that N,a-DEPEA is not listed on Craze’s ingredient label.Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/meth-substance-found-craze-workout-supplement-report/story?id=20572095
That being said, pre-workout give a great boost of energy and concentration. Most pre-workouts have 200-300mg of caffeine in them along with 5mg of creatine.
The caffeine along with the other additives that boost energy and mental focus will give you the concentration needed in class if you find yourself always sleepy or groggy.
The creatine will assist in reducing muscle fatigue and increasing recovery time. Creatine allows your boy to retain water around your muscles which allows them to recover quicker.
Caffeine is a stimulant that our body adapts to quickly so larger doses are required with prolonged use. Withdrawal symptoms typically begin 12–24 hours after stopping caffeine, especially if your body is dependent on it from daily use.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depressed mood
- Low energy
To reduce withdrawal symptoms try slowly cuttings back caffeine instead of going cold turkey, stay hydrated, and try to get enough sleep every night.
Caffeine before Jiu-Jitsu can give a boost in energy, focus, endurance, and mood. Its peak effects occur ~1 hour after consumption and can last up to 4-6 hours. Too much caffeine can cause jitters, insomnia, increased heart rate and blood pressure, lack of focus due to having too much.
Green tea and coffee is the best way to consume caffeine in beverage form. Energy Drinks can contain large amounts of sugar and are expensive to buy for what you are getting. Pre-workout has powerful effects, but is expensive and may contain harmful ingredients because they are not regulated by the FDA.
Alternatives to coffee, energy drinks, and pre-workout are caffeine pills (which are very cheap), ginseng, B vitamins, and taurine. Additionally, having low energy could be a result of a lack of sleep, improper diet, or training schedule.
Harvard Health, The buzz about caffeine and health: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-buzz-about-caffeine-and-health#:~:text=A%20stimulating%20effect,about%20four%20to%20six%20hours.
Smith, A.E., Fukuda, D.H., Kendall, K.L. et al. The effects of a pre-workout supplement containing caffeine, creatine, and amino acids during three weeks of high-intensity exercise on aerobic and anaerobic performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7, 10 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-7-10
Ryan Raman, MS, RD. 12 Benefits of Guarana (Plus Side Effects): https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/guarana-benefits