Does Caffeine Decrease Blood Flow?
5 Fast Facts On Caffeine
- Besides carbohydrate, caffeine is one of the most scientifically verified supplements that can enhance endurance performance.
- 3-6mg/kg body weight of caffeine 30-60 minutes before endurance exercise can delay fatigue, improve time trial performance, and make hard exercise seem easier.
- Caffeine does not cause dehydration.
- Caffeine does not decrease blood flow.
- In fact, it is quite the opposite. Caffeine causes vasodilation (increase blood flow) by stimulating nitric oxide production.
Is caffeine a vasodilator or vasoconstrictor?
Good morning, family of fast. Matt Mosman, the chief endurance officer over at EndurElite. Welcome to another episode of Busting the Bullshit.
On the chopping block today is does caffeine, like the type found in coffee or in pre-workouts like PerformElite, decrease blood flow and negatively impact endurance performance?
Now, I don't know where this myth came from, but here's this whole bullshit theory that's been spewed out over the last few years, is that, basically, caffeine vasoconstricts or decreases blood flow.
This decrease in blood flow decreases blood to working muscles and can decrease endurance performance or affect those sick pumps for all you gym bros, and that it's just...it's not a good idea to consume caffeine pre-workout whether you're running, lifting, biking etc.
Now, is there any truth to this? Short and sweet, no. It's a bunch of malarkey.
Now, I'm gonna spare you the geek speak because there's a ton of stuff that happens on the physiological level when you consume caffeine.
But we're just gonna put it in short, simple, easy to understand information today as far as why caffeine does not vasoconstrict or decrease blood flow and let you know why you can still be taking it to increase endurance performance because we all know caffeine is freaking awesome.
Caffeine Actually IMPROVES blood flow to muscles
So here's what happens when you ingest caffeine in the right amounts.
- So when you ingest the caffeine from like coffee or a pre-workout, this signals the release of calcium from something called the endoplasmic reticulum.
- I know, big word. But basically, all this means is when this calcium released, it interacts with endothelial tissue or tissue that surrounds arteries and vessels, and it actually stimulates the production of nitric oxide.
Caffeine stimulates nitric oxide production which promotes vasodilation
Now, what does nitric oxide do? Nitric oxide makes your blood vessels go from that to something like that. So it actually has the opposite effect of what other people are telling you about a vasoconstriction.
Caffeine actually increases vasodilation or the increase in blood flow to working muscles. Ah, awesome. Another reason to love caffeine.
Now, I'm not telling the whole story here.
Caffeine does cause vasoconstriction in smooth muscle tissue, but only for a brief period of time before the caffeine signals a significant vasodilator effect.
So again, caffeine, it's gonna cause vasoconstriction for just a little bit of time, but caffeine comes back around again and says, "Hey, I don't like this vasoconstriction. Let's get this blood flow pumped up to these working muscles." So it, again, signals for the blood flow to increase and overcomes that very, very brief vasoconstrictive effect.
So that is all I have for today, my endurance friends.
Take-home point. Caffeine, we love it. It increases endurance performance. Besides carbs, it's probably one of the most scientifically demonstrated ingredient supplements to increase endurance performance.
We've talked about that in videos before.
It is not going to cause a decrease in blood flow to a significant effect, and if it does for that brief period of time, it's gonna be overcome by caffeine itself.
Third point. The way it interacts with endothelial tissue is it increases nitric oxide which leads us to vasodilation.
And last point. If you purposely wanna constrict your blood to your working muscles, here's what I want you to do. I want you to go down to Walmart. I want you to pick up a super duper awesome ultimate warrior costume for Halloween, get a tight tourniquet, wrap it around your arm tight, and it's gonna look like Google road maps all over, your veins will be swelling, man.
So again, that's all I have for today. If you have a buddy who believes that caffeine is a vasoconstrictor or decreases blood flow, raise your right hand, slap him across the face, then share this video with him and say, "My friend, you're dead wrong." If you want other videos like this on endurance training, nutrition, supplementation, random musing, and other episodes of Busting the Bullshit, subscribe to the EndurElite YouTube channel or head on over to the EndurElite blog at www.endurelite.com. Get super social with us on Facebook and Instagram. And until next time, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast, and stay informed.