As an ultramarathon runner, I am always looking for ways to maximise my energy for my training sessions and races.
I am a big fan of caffeine – it’s common knowledge that it increases the metabolism and fat burning mechanism, improves our focus and makes us more alert – great when you are getting up and training first thing in the morning like me.
But hang on a minute – which source is best? After a lot of trial and error, I want to share with you what I have found that works best for me. Firstly though, lets have a look at what options are out there that I personally have tried in the past.
Energy Source #1 – Coffee
Most runners already know this one!! When I first started running I would have an espresso shot before training.
Whilst this gave me more energy in the short term,I found that it was not necessarily the best option for long term sustainable energy, and that’s before we even think about the digestive issues it can (and did) cause on the run.
In addition coffee isn’t necessarily convenient to take on during a run or race.
Energy Source #2 – Energy Drinks
At least the caffeine in coffee is natural though, as opposed to the caffeine in an energy drink which is most likely synthetic – just a mixture of chemicals which is absorbed more quickly into the digestive system and is therefore going to give you an even bigger energy hit…. but a bigger crash too.
(Hint: if you see the words “caffeine” on the ingredients list this is a synthetic caffeine – a natural caffeine would list the source)
Energy Source #3 – Caffeinated gels
Something I used to use a lot – caffeinated energy gels, usually the espresso flavoured ones that had double the amount of caffeine. They worked for me at the time, especially as a convenient energy source during a long run or road race.
If your stomach can handle gels (mine can’t anymore!) then they could be a good source of energy, although again the caffeine is more likely to be synthetic than natural.
Energy Source #4 – Medicinal caffeine
Taking over the counter caffeine tablets may sound like a great idea and it’s something that I used on ultramarathons for a couple of years to keep me alert and focused, as advised by a sports dietician. It was convenient, portable and it worked.
At the end of the day though, this is just another source of chemicals going into your system, and for me this just didn’t sit well.
My top Energy Source – Plant based caffeine
I have found the best natural source of caffeine for sustainable energy for me comes from a combination of plant based sources in the form of a shot which includes green tea and yerba mate.
Yerba what I hear you say? Yerba mate is an adaptogen herb that is made from the dried leaves of a native South American plant. More about adaptogens in another blog, but yerba mate has been said to offer “the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea and the euphoria of chocolate” all in one. Sounds pretty great right?
It is! I get up to four hours of sustained energy, no crash, no jitters. Great for a preworkout literally as I start my session as I have never had a stomach upset from it. And it kicks in instantly which believe me when you hit witching hour at 3am during a 24 hour race is the best – no waiting around for 15 minutes for the caffeine to kick in and give you that energy hit.
SO there you have it – the BEST CAFFEINE SOURCE that I have found for ENERGY.
If you enjoyed this post and got value from it I would love it if you would share with your friends 🙂
And check out my latest post on how to sail through Christmas feeling energetic rather than exhausted!