Like many people, I love a good cup of coffee in the morning, and I also happen to love doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As I was sipping my coffee before training for a boost of energy, I wanted to know if using caffeine would improve my performance on the jiu-jitsu mats, so I did some research to find out.
Drinking caffeine before training BJJ in moderation improves performance. Taking caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and increases overall alertness and focus. Caffeine also releases adrenaline which makes your heart and lungs work faster which also boosts overall performance.
Let’s explore how caffeine may improve athletic performance and go into some pros and cons to help you make the decision on whether or not you should be brewing up a cup of coffee, cracking open an energy drink, or taking a caffeine-enhanced pre-workout before BJJ.
Does Caffeine Improve Athletic Performance?
Moderate caffeine consumption can improve a person’s athletic performance. The sports industry and countless athletes have noticed the benefits that can be gained from using caffeine around exercise, and it is common practice to take a pre-workout or caffeine before workouts.
Naturally, caffeine alone isn’t the fact that makes or breaks a person’s fitness level. The daily amount of exercise an individual gets, the types of meals they consume, how much water they drink, how much sleep they get at night, and their genetics all play a significant role in overall athletic performance.
How Caffeine Interacts With the Body
Caffeine is a stimulant that stimulates the central nervous system, blocks hormones that cause drowsiness, and promotes the production of adrenaline. The effects peak between 15 minutes and 45 minutes after consumption but are absorbed and processed over up to 10 hours.
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. Having a stimulated central nervous system boosts reaction time and can play a role in endurance and muscular engagement.
One of the more noticeable effects that caffeine can have on our system is the stimulation of the adrenal glands which will result directly in adrenaline. Adrenaline boosts blood flow to your muscles and brain which primes your body for performance.
Another potent effect of caffeine is that it blocks melatonin and adenosine which are key players in creating feelings of drowsiness. This inhibition of melatonin and adenosine results in feels of alertness even if a person is sleep-deprived. This is why your afternoon cup of coffee can result in a sleepless night.
Caffeine also relaxes smooth muscle tissue. This notably includes your lungs which has some effects on your breathing and circulation. Another side note is that smooth muscles in your colon and your intestinal tract getting relaxed might send you to the bathroom after your cup of coffee to poop! So caffeine timing might be prudent if you are somebody who is sensitive to these effects.
How Does Caffeine Impact BJJ Performance?
In terms of what caffeine might do to improve your BJJ performance, some of the most commonly reported benefits include:
- More Energy
- Faster Reaction Speed
- Greater Focus
Caffeine consumption has also been linked to weight loss, so if this is a personal goal there might be some extra synergy to include caffeine in your routine. To understand these benefits, we’ll need to take a closer look at how caffeine affects the body.
The unfortunate reality of modern life is that we are chronically under-rested. Caffeine provides a “quick fix” by antagonizing receptors that would bond with adenosine and melatonin.
When adenosine and melatonin cannot bond to its receptors, the body does not feel the natural tiredness it would normally experience. As such, caffeine can help boost your energy and help you feel more wakeful before, during, and after a BJJ training session.
This doesn’t even take into account the boost to adrenaline from the increased stimulation to the adrenal glands. The resulting increased blood flow to the muscles and brain is a primary driving force in performance improvement.
Faster Reaction Speed
Increased energy levels aside, consuming caffeine before a BJJ workout could help you react more quickly to incoming stimulation. Since your central nervous system is stimulated and primed for action you will be able to react more quickly.
If you are sleep-deprived, which most people in modern society unfortunately are, the melatonin and adenosine blocking properties of caffeine will allow you to maintain a better focus during class. Add this to the increased blood flow and circulation that is going that will boost the oxygen levels in your brain, and you will be able to focus better while under-rested.
Should You Drink Coffee Before BJJ?
Timing your coffee consumption around a jiu-jitsu session can greatly increase your perceived energy and basic focus. If training in the morning or afternoon, timing caffeine consumption to about an hour before training can increase importance without even affecting sleep.
The average habitual coffee drinker is likely to enjoy (and potentially benefit from) a regular intake of between 100mg and 350mg caffeine. Consuming a maximum of 350mg of caffeine per day time around training could be a smart way to optimize your energy and focus during BJJ sessions.
For people who do not regularly consume caffeine, you can get benefits from as little as half a cup of coffee. In fact, when I cycle off of daily coffee drinking and I need a bit of a boost, drinking a single small cup of coffee is my go-to energy-boosting beverage.
Something to keep in mind is that if you suffer from anxiety, it might be better to skip the caffeine as using stimulants can often worsen anxiety.
Should You Drink Pre-Workout Before BJJ?
Pre-workout is popular to take before any form of exercise and BJJ training sessions are not an exception. There are benefits to taking a pre-workout but since caffeine is the primary driving factor in the energy boost you receive take care using it in the evenings.
If you plan on working out later in the late afternoon or in the evening, you should resist the urge whenever possible. Proper diet and sleep are the majority of the battle for maintaining good energy levels and giving up sleep quality by taking pre-workout results in a temporary gain of energy for worse long-term loss of energy throughout the next several days.
If you’re training in the morning, a pre-workout could help you feel more energized, focused, and alert during your session without much effect on your overall sleep quality and energy levels.
Should You Drink Energy Drinks Before BJJ?
Energy drinks are commonly taken by many BJJ athletes before their training sessions. They are effective as a boost of short-term energy primarily through the caffeine that is commonly used in medium to large doses in each serving.
Timing of energy drink consumption is critical since they often contain a concentrated amount of caffeine alongside a high load of sugar. Both of these substances can be harmful when consumed excessively, and can also negatively impact sleep quality if an athlete is taking it before an evening class.
Many athletes and BJJ martial artists use caffeine to maximize their endurance and get the most out of their performance. When used in moderation, caffeine could help you improve focus, energy, and reaction time.
Excessive caffeine consumption, especially in the later hours of the day can cause a net negative effect if it changes your sleep quality or quantity. However, used properly, caffeine is an effective, safe, performance enhancer for BJJ athletes, when taken in moderation.
For more check out Hard To Sleep After BJJ? | 13 Tips for Sleep After Jiu-Jitsu.