How to use Caffeine for Training and Race Days

When it comes to using caffeine to help with training and racing, it’s all about the timing. Different people have different reactions to caffeine, but here is our general advice:

Caffeine before a fasted training session

A black coffee before a fasted training session is likely to help your body to fuel from fat, helping direct your metabolism towards fat burning.

Caffeine is likely to make your fasted training more efficient. In this case you only take water, or electrolytes and black coffee and no other carbs, including milk. Training like this should be kept for those easy or medium-paced sessions (not much longer than two hours).

Caffeine for an energy boost

If you’re taking caffeine together with carbohydrates, be it with regular food, a gel, or a drink with carbs, your metabolism is directed to fuel more from carbs and less from fat. 

This strategy is great when you want to push hard in a race, time trials or tough interval session. Having plenty of readily available carbs in your body with some caffeine will give your energy levels a boost.

This strategy can lead to you burning less fat. This is why in a longer race – where you will need to make optimal use of your fat stores, but also need a steady stream of carbohydrates throughout – it is advised to only start taking caffeine in the latter part of your race. 

If you start taking caffeine too early (therefore not using your fat stores effectively) you are more likely to run out of steam well before the finish line. 

Caffeine for pre-session digestion 

Caffeine can also help stimulate a bowel movement before a race or training session If you have breakfast (combining carbs and protein here) three to four hours before your race, you could combine it with a cup of coffee. The three to four hours will allow enough time for the effect of caffeine to wear off and not interfere with your fat-burning metabolism once the race starts.

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Posted on 11th Dec 2021