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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 07-26-10, 09:00 AM   #1
KidTruth
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Energy levels, caffeine problems

I know there are mountains on this subject, but maybe my fellow cyclists can give me some input.

I'm 26 and more physically active than I've ever been in my life. I did my first back-to-back century event (100 miles first day, 100 miles second day) last April and have since mixed in jogging with my routine. I'm 5'11 and 155 pounds. On an average week right now I run about ten miles cycle about 50, but that depends on what kind of event I have coming up.

That said, I run off of coffee, and it's getting old. Because I'm in Texas and the heat is excruciating, I have about a solid hour to bike in the mornings before work. After work I'm so burnt out from my caffeine comedown that I just want to vege out.

So, what's the secret? How do I obtain some sort of constant energy nirvana without caffeine? are there other vitamins or stimulants that don't have the same drawback? I tend to get in a situation where I'm drinking coffee until about 5 PM, and then going to sleep when it wears off. That said, I'd like to use coffee only occasionally when I really need to focus. But without it, how do I get up and be cycling within 20 minutes of waking up? Or, is there a way to live a more balanced life - maybe do my cycling in the evening when it's also cool, and somehow not be totally exhausted?

Any input would be welcome. Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-26-10, 09:43 AM   #2
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Simplest thing is to have a cup before your morning ride, then no more all day. Problem solved. We don't need coffee to work hard, but it sure helps with the cycling because it spares glycogen. I don't drink it after 1:00. That works for me. I can ride fine in the morning with coffee, or in the evening without.

You can switch to mate. You bring a thermos of boiling water and a bag of mate to work. You also need the special cup and bombilla.
http://www.noborders.net/mate/how.html
and others from google. Way cooler than coffee.
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Old 07-26-10, 10:54 AM   #3
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Try drinking tea instead? With tea you don't experience the same crash as you do with coffee. It's a much milder, less jittery lift. The compounds in coffee stimulate SNS (fight or flight) response and stress levels, which is great before a hard workout, not so great if you want sustained energy. I try to limit coffee to pre-workout only, especially if you want to put in an extra hard effort. After a few days drinking it, I start "needing" it to feel normal and I end up worn out and tired.
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Old 07-28-10, 08:50 AM   #4
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Sounds like your body has just gotten used to high levels of caffeine/coffee and needs to be slowly weened off. It probably craves and needs it more because the coffee doesn't have as great an affect as it used to (similar to other drugs and fatty foods). So i wouldn't do anything drastic, just reduce your daily intake by a cup or 2 one week then a few more cups the next, etc. until you're down to a normal healthy amount (i.e. cup in morning and cup in afternoon). And by cup i mean one coffee mug...i think they say more than 3 cups daily is not healthy.

If possible try biking after work and see how your day goes, you can usually get in a good workout between 6:30 and 8:30 pm with temps/humidity dropping.
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Old 07-28-10, 11:03 AM   #5
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Quit the coffee and you'll feel better after a few weeks.. that being said I always go back.. my mouth gets bored during the day and I need the flavor, or I get tired for one reason or another. I have a very addictive personality.
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Old 08-04-10, 05:51 AM   #6
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Fellow caffeine junkie here.

The problem is that at our level of consumption, caffeine doesn't work on us anymore. On a person that consumes moderate amounts of caffeine it indeed gives them a boost. In our case, we are either caffeine-depleted and down, or we get our fix and basically it levels us out.

You got two options: Quit caffeine and eventually the roller coaster will stop and your natural energy levels will come back, or spread it out throughout the day so you are never caffeine-deficient. Over here in Japan we have caffeinated chewing gum. It works like magic
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Old 08-04-10, 10:23 AM   #7
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Quit the coffee for a while and see what happens. There could also be some other reason you're running out of gas. Are you getting enough sleep? Eating enough?
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Old 08-04-10, 03:27 PM   #8
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I'll second the yerba mate vote. It contains some caffeine, but also has other analogous xanthine compounds. You feel stimulated but not jumpy. It cuts appetite urges that coffee tends to stimulate. It's also an antioxidant. Definitely worth checking out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_mat%C3%A9

I can cut out the coffee entirely for a few days with mate as a fall back. You can then easily move to non caffeine herbal tea if you want to go on the wagon. Or not. But at any rate, mate is worth using as a substitute.
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Old 08-04-10, 03:40 PM   #9
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I'll second the yerba mate vote. It contains some caffeine, but also has other analogous xanthine compounds. You feel stimulated but not jumpy. It cuts appetite urges that coffee tends to stimulate. It's also an antioxidant. Definitely worth checking out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_mat%C3%A9

I can cut out the coffee entirely for a few days with mate as a fall back. You can then easily move to non caffeine herbal tea if you want to go on the wagon. Or not. But at any rate, mate is worth using as a substitute.
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Old 08-04-10, 04:13 PM   #10
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I wouldn't go cold turkey. I'm sure you know what a caffeine-withdrawal headache feels like.

Taper off until you come off completely. A few days won't do it. You got to be off for a few weeks before your body stops craving it.
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Old 08-04-10, 07:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abdon View Post
Fellow caffeine junkie here.

The problem is that at our level of consumption, caffeine doesn't work on us anymore. On a person that consumes moderate amounts of caffeine it indeed gives them a boost. In our case, we are either caffeine-depleted and down, or we get our fix and basically it levels us out.

You got two options: Quit caffeine and eventually the roller coaster will stop and your natural energy levels will come back, or spread it out throughout the day so you are never caffeine-deficient. Over here in Japan we have caffeinated chewing gum. It works like magic
Quote:
Originally Posted by abdon View Post
I wouldn't go cold turkey. I'm sure you know what a caffeine-withdrawal headache feels like.

Taper off until you come off completely. A few days won't do it. You got to be off for a few weeks before your body stops craving it.
Hah, yes, basically you guys have an addition... there was some study which came out that said chronic coffee drinkers obtain no actual benefit in alertness over non-coffee drinkers... basically the effect wears off and you are left "in the hole" so to speak grasping for more and more caffeine just to stay normal.

Don't go cold turkey, switch to brews with lower caffiene or mix decaf beans with normal beans. be sure your body doesn't try to sneak extra servings past you, it will try!
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Old 08-04-10, 09:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by KidTruth View Post
How do I obtain some sort of constant energy nirvana without caffeine? ... Any input would be welcome.
This is a common misconception. Caffeine absolutely does NOT provide energy! Caffeine increases alertness, and that's it. If you think you're running off of caffeine, you're simply running on other calories or stored body fat. Even if you eat a whole handful of No-Doz, you will not attain anything close to an 'energy nirvana'. You simply will be wide awake (and probably would have a pretty bad headache as well, in this case). Even though you'd be wide awake, you'd still pretty much 'feel like crap' physically because the caffeine has not given you energy.

If you're eating something that contains zero calories, you aren't getting any energy from it. It's as simple as that.

If you want to know what will provide immediate energy so that your body won't be feeding on its own stored fat (and sometimes muscle mass), simply eat some food.

Use an online calorie calculator (such as [1]), put in your height, weight, age, and rough daily activity level. A decent calorie calculator will tell you how many calories you consume without expending energy (in a vegetative state, called BMR for 'basal metabolic rate'[2]), and how many calories you'd need to consume to exactly maintain your current wait. If you want to ensure you aren't gaining any weight, simply eat below this number of calories each day, and try not to each much late at night (so that you don't consume energy right before sleeping, when your body will store some of the energy as fat before it has expended it all).

There is no secret to weight loss, energy levels, etc. Calorie counting is about as simple and fool-proof as it gets. It may be tedious to track calories, particularly when you eat home-cooked food, but it really is the best way to control energy and weight loss.

[1] http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basal_metabolic_rate
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Old 08-05-10, 01:59 AM   #13
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Can you cut back on the coffee a bit, and get an extra hour or two of sleep each night?

I used to get about 6 hours of sleep a night, start to nod off over my desk at about 3 pm, and my coffee intake would increase dramatically in the last couple hours of the work day as I tried to stay awake.

Now I get about 7.5 hours of sleep a night, and even with about half the coffee I used to drink, there is no nodding off over my desk in the afternoon. The extra 1.5 hours of sleep makes quite a difference for me.
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Old 08-05-10, 06:38 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
You can switch to mate. You bring a thermos of boiling water and a bag of mate to work. You also need the special cup and bombilla.
http://www.noborders.net/mate/how.html
and others from google. Way cooler than coffee.
+1 on the yerba mate, but an alternative to the bombilla and all that is to brew it in a french press.
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Old 08-06-10, 04:44 PM   #15
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I never reccommend changing the training plan that works for you, what I do is have a coffee before a bike ride, and I never have coffee other than that, I'm always full of energy in the evenings, with no come down
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