Some may say that caffeine consumption is an addiction. But for coffee aficionados like myself, that morning and midday cup o’Joe is a sacred ritual. If you’re also an active person, this dark potion might actually give you an extra edge in your training and surfing.
The smell of coffee alone is enough to wake you up. Some cannot start their morning without their cup of Joe. Some cannot fathom of making it through the day without a refill. Others, like me, love it because it’s so darn tasty and helps sustain my training. If you drink coffee or any caffeine-infused drink (e.g. tea, yerba mate, hot cocoa), then chances are you’ve already experienced its performance-enhancing effects first-hand. If you’re still on the fence about whether you should be drinking it or not, here are some interesting insights into the benefits of caffeine for surfers:
Benefits of caffeine for athletes
Is coffee good or bad for your surfing sessions? Studies have shown that moderate coffee consumption is not only healthy but also one of the best drinks for surfers before and in between sets.
Coffee is mostly water, right? Wrong! While there is around 98% of water in your regular cup of Joe, there are also essential minerals, protein, fiber, vitamins B1, B2, B5 and B9, polyunsaturated and saturated fats. Can all of these improve your surfing? Yes, they can, by injecting just the right amount of juice to give you an extra kick when riding those waves.
Here are the most notable benefits of caffeine for athletes, supported by science:
1. Improved concentration, alertness and mood
Have you ever noticed how everything suddenly seems much clearer after a cup o’Joe? Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and improves brain functions. Its effects are particularly beneficial for athletes who suffer from sleep-deprivation while traveling for competitions.
2. Enhanced reaction time and improved accuracy
Caffeine improves physical and cognitive performance during exhaustive exercise, which can help surfers perform better, as concentration plays a major role out there on the waves.
3. Lowers peripheral pain perception
Caffeine reduces the perception of muscle soreness and pain during physical exercise. This means that you can surf for longer without breaking down in the middle of the session or feeling exhausted.
4. Better and faster recovery after physical strain
Ingesting caffeine and carbohydrates after physical strain increases muscle glycogen by 66%, helping the body recover much faster. Coffee can help regenerate injured muscle and combats loss of muscle caused by aging.
5. Excellent source of antioxidants
Caffeine is a great weapon against free radicals, thus reducing the risk of cancer. The antioxidants found in coffee also have anti-inflammatory properties, which helps the body recover from exertion.
6. Lowered risk of type II diabetes
Caffeine consumption is associated with healthy glucose metabolism, thus reducing the risk of developing diabetes.
7. Prevents diseases
When it comes to preventing diseases, caffeine’s most notable impact is on neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, modifying brain dysfunctions and reducing the risk of epilepsy, schizophrenia, migraine and depression.
8. Improved blood circulation
Moderate coffee consumption elevates the heart rate and is linked to superior blood vessel health. Better blood circulation means that you’ll be able to stay warm during those cold-water surfing sessions, and also that your body will be able to deliver a constant supply of oxygen to the muscles and cells regardless of the temperature.
9. Slows down the aging process
Coffee lowers oxidative stress, the main cause of deterioration that comes with aging. It can improve protection against DNA damage and related chronic disease risk. Drinking coffee can help slow down aging or, at the very least, help you age with grace.
10. Supports weight loss
Consumed before exercising, coffee converts fat cells into energy. In ketosis state, your body consumes fat for energy instead of sugar, which provides longer-lasting energy and reduces cravings.
11. Minimizes sun damage on your eyes
Being on the water all day means that your eyes need to put up with the sun’s reflections on the water. UV exposure can lead to serious issues like cataracts and pterygium growth (surfer’s eye). Studies have shown that UV effects can be attenuated with the help of alkaloids found in tea and coffee.
Considering these amazing cognitive and physiological benefits, it’s easy to see why many surfers and athletes consume coffee in the morning and also upon arriving at the beach. It’s recommended that you enjoy your cup o’Joe 60 minutes before a surfing sesh, as caffeine is released in the body for four to six hours after you drink that cup of coffee.
So, how much coffee should you consume to gain a performance edge?
The answer is that it really depends on your body’s tolerance to caffeine. In the end, it all comes down to how well you are used to caffeine consumption. Up to 400 mg of caffeine a day is considered safe for most healthy adults. Between 3 to 9 mg of caffeine per body weight is considered an optimal dosage.
A 12-ounce (350 ml) cup of coffee contains between 90 to 120 mg of caffeine, so you should be A-Okay with three-four cups a day. But there are many other sources of caffeine that you might come across during the day, and you should always keep track of your caffeine intake:
- An average cup of black tea contains 67 mg of caffeine
- An 8.4-ounce can of Red Bull contains 83 mg
- One shot of espresso contains 71 mg of caffeine
- A 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola has 34 mg
- A 20-ounce Starbucks coffee already contains the maximum amount of caffeine for the day – 410 mg.
Side effects of caffeine consumption
Coffee does have its side effects, and caffeine overdose can hurt your performance. High levels of caffeine can lead to insomnia, anxiety and restlessness. High doses can make you feel sick – you may experience headaches, heart palpitations, stomachaches, nausea and vomiting, increased breathing rate and ringing in the ears. Too much coffee will make you jittery and nervous, not an ideal state to be in when keeping your balance on the surfboard.
Drinking too much coffee can lead to serious addiction – the more you drink the more your body will crave. Those who become dependent on coffee may develop withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking it. Furthermore, occasional consumption might lead to heart issues and possibly even heart attacks, whereas people who regularly drink coffee seem to show considerably lower risks.
The reality remains that coffee can be considered a drug; a very powerful one I may add. The best thing you can do is to experiment with different daily doses until you can figure out which works for you best. Also, remember that caffeine from natural coffee is far better than processed caffeine in energy drinks, sodas or other supplements.
Get your pre-surf caffeine fix without any guilt and hit the waves on a budget surf holiday!