Caffeine is one of the most commonly used substances to enhance wakefulness, attention, and physical abilities. Although it is present in a wide array of natural foods, it is most commonly consumed in beverages such as a coffee, energy drinks, and pre-workout supplements.
Caffeine, like many other substances that affect the wakefulness, works primarily in the brain. First, as we all know, caffeine is effective at preventing sleepiness, and this is by inhibiting adenosine receptors. Caffeine also works in a part of the brain known as the striatum, which is responsible for things like motor function and cognition. Some studies even indicate that caffeine can improve life expectancy in certain groups of people.
In normal doses that you would get from a cup of coffee, caffeine is safe. However, consumption of caffeine in high doses such as energy drinks with 300 mg, may have a negative impact. The negative impact, though, is most commonly seen in older people or people with various diseases like high blood pressure.
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.
Although there is a general consensus that caffeine has a positive impact on athletic performance, there is limited data showing whether it is scientifically true or just myth. Furthermore, there is very limited data showing the effect of caffeine on performance in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
In the only study ever conducted on the effect of caffeine on Jiu Jitsu performance, researchers split two groups of grapplers. One group received caffeine while the other group took placebo. This means that the grapplers didn’t know if they were getting caffeine or not, and this would limit the placebo effect.
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To determine the impact of caffeine on physical performance in Jiu Jitsu, the grapplers were to take part in two matches with a break in between. Although it may be difficult to find an accurate measure of performance, examining footage of the matches allows one to measure the level of offense.
It was found that grapplers who consumed caffeine exhibited more offensive attitudes and enhanced physical performance in measures like handgrip strength and bench press.
Although caffeine is safe, and arguably even healthy in low to moderate doses, one still has to monitor how much they are consuming. High doses of caffeine can affect mood, sleep, and our heart. The important side effect we are worried about, insomnia, can have a big negative impact on Jiu Jitsu performance, probably bigger than the small improvement caffeine can cause.
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