Caffeine Improves Performance in Jiu Jitsu
Do the positives outweigh any potential negatives with caffeine?
Caffeine is a widely popular molecule natural to plant sources such as the coffee bean, tea leaves, and kola nuts. Caffeine, typically ingested from hot coffee beverages, has various effects on physical performance and cognition. Caffeine induces its effects in a multiplicate of mechanisms: blocking various receptors in the nervous system such as the adenosine receptor which is responsible for sleepiness and drowsiness, enhancing the effect of dopamine in the brain striatum leading to psychostimulation, and other actions leading to reduced inflammation, promoting arousal, etc. Caffeine is considered to be safe and it would require massive doses to produce toxic effects in a healthy person. Caffeine is also known to have a profound positive effect on aerobic performance.
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Caffeine in the form of beverages and other oral forms has been used to enhance athletic performance for many years. It is actually the most commonly used athletic performance enhancer. Because of this, it can be expected that caffeine can have a positive impact on performance in Jiu Jitsu matches. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance described an experiment with the objective of determining such an effect. Fourteen competitors were involved and were stratified into two groups: seven grapplers receiving caffeine and seven receiving a placebo. The investigators were also blind as to who received the treatment or placebo. The experiment required the athletes to conduct two matches with a 20-minute break in between.
The results of this experiment were quite profound. Video analysis of the competitors revealed that those who ingested caffeine improved in a variety of ways: increased time on the offensive in both matches and physical performance was improved. Physical performance was measured through handgrip dynamometry, jump height, maximal static lift, and peak bench press. It was also found that blood lactate levels were higher in those that consumed caffeine. These objective measurements were tested before the matches, after the first, and then after the second. Interestingly, however, performance was almost equal in every category after the second match.
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The general safety of caffeine and its overall ability to improve mental and physical performance makes it quite attractive. It is important to mention that there are various side effects associated with both long-term and short-term consumption. Caffeine can increase anxiety, shakiness, and blood pressure. In the long-term, caffeine can cause dependence and withdrawal is sometimes difficult. Taking caffeine late in the day can also cause insomnia, which a potent inhibitor of cognition and physical ability.
Diaz-Lara, Francisco Javier, et al. “Enhancement of High-Intensity Actions and Physical Performance During a Simulated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Competition With a Moderate Dose of Caffeine.” International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, vol. 11, no. 7, 2016, pp. 861–867., doi:10.1123/ijspp.2015-0686.
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