Curing Cramping Through Caffeine RegulationBy Paul Roberts Sand&Steel Fitness
There are many causes for cramps:
- Lack of conditioning;
- Dehydration; and
- Electrolyte deficiency (Calcium, Chlorine, Potassium, Sodium)
Are some of the most frequently blamed items. I train hard everyday and maintain a clean diet, and still I suffer from the onset of cramps in my calves and stomach. They are painful, and worse then that when my muscles seize up my soccer game, skiing venture, or exercise bout is over.
Perhaps I wasn’t getting enough water?
So I tried cutting out coffee for a month. If you are like me and drink a few cups a day, going cold-turkey will royally suck. I basically had flu-like symptoms for the whole weekend. Headaches I expected, but I literally felt ill for a few days. Well I recovered. It is well known that coffee is a diuretic, and so by eliminating coffee, I would increase intracellular water, and decrease cramping. Well such was my theory.
Cutting out coffee stopped my Cramping
Of course, that sucked because I love coffee. So I stayed off it, and I got far less cramps. However every now and then I would still get cramps… the same cramps as before… just not as often. Maybe, coffee wasn’t the cause… or maybe it was a catalyst… my research continued.
I HEART 1,3,7-Trimethylpurine-2,6-dione
For those of us who are not addicted, 1,3,7-Trimethylpurine-2,6-dione is Caffeine — the wonder drug — addictive as all hell, but relatively harmless. What is more, caffeine helps improve athletic performance, which numerous studies can attest to. Caffeine is in soda, coffee, chocolate, and many pre-workout mixes.
I like pre-workout mixes because they help me lift more, concentrate better, etc., but I usually buy ones without caffeine, because I get enough from coffee. In fact to multi-task better, I’ve been working on a more direct intake method. See my beta IV prototype to the right.
One of the benefits of owning a gym is that supplement providers often mail you supplements, and I happened to get a brand new preworkout catalyst. I always read the labels, and I noticed this product had 300 mg of caffeine… 3x that of coffee. NP, my body can handle that… famous last words. Coffee, as you may know, contains about 100 mg of caffeine, and if you are like me you sip it all day long. Well I took this supplement in fell swoop, and started my workout, and picked exercises that sometimes caused me to get cramps in the past. And guess what happened?
I GOT THE WORST STOMACH CRAMPS OF MY LIFE.
I literally cramped up in 5 minutes was in agonizing pain for 10 minutes. The cramps were so bad, I was concerned I was going to sprain a muscle. So I ended my workout, and started working on this blog. The next day I did the same workout, and had no cramping. Hmm… could it be the caffeine? Well I bought some caffeine only pills, and decided to take them (300 mg) and do my workout. I must admit I had the same kind of feeling one has the moment before they test a 9-volt battery with their tongue (for those who haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it, and I look forward to reading your comments on the blog :-))
Caffeine Causes My Cramps
So I did what every good fitness professional did I searched Google to be sure. Yep, Caffeine Causes Muscle Cramps. I am sure there is a safe level, which undoubtedly depends on body weight, tolerance, metabolism speed, etc. wherein the performance benefits of caffeine and the cramping it can cause. So my next search for university studies, on the correlation of caffeine and cramps, confirmed my discovery. If you drink coffee like you should be drinking water, maybe you should consider that coffee may be hurting your performance in more ways than one.
I may love coffee, but I love my body more, and so I’ll be reducing my caffeine intake this month (and cutting down other caffeine sources, dark chocolate OMG.) Subscribe to our blog to stay-tuned for an update with my findings.