I specifically wanted to study the use of caffeine as a performance enhancing drug as well as the use of cold shower for recovery. I soon found that there were a lot of confounding variables and secondary and tertiary interactions that I needed to keep note of. You can find the annotated raw data on Google Drive and the raw data .tsv file on GitHub (once the data set is complete).
As a general protocol I was eating a nose-to-tail carnivore diet (beef, eggs, salt, beef organs, and bone broth). Occasionally I did eat pork backfat in lieu of suet (see high Omega-6 days in annotated data) and fish (see high Omega-3 days in annotated data). As far as supplements, I used mineral water daily, salt (Redmond’s Real), and intermittently used an electrolyte supplement (see annotated raw data).
Let’s first address some changes that I made from my initial 60 days:
- I feel it is too easy to overdo it with butter / liquid processed fats (a large reason for my shift from keto to carnivore)(r) – that is, butter, tallow, ghee. So, I would have preferred to only use suet, but the COVID / supply chain folly reduced me to tallow and ghee mostly.
- Pork and chicken tend to have a higher Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio (r) compared to ruminants so I cut out chicken completely (it’s also too lean for my liking and for the higher fat experiments I did, again see annotation) and only used pork backfat as a substitute for suet (see above).
- Regarding fish, I previously noted the electrolytes in mackerel, but I more recently became aware of the heavy mineral content (the same concern arises with tuna)(r). Low mercury fish tend to be lower in overall fat compared to ruminants (see chicken above) though their Omega-3 content is quite high. I did eat some canned fish at different intervals to manipulate Omega-3 levels.
Before we get into crunching the numbers, let’s look at what the literature says about the aforementioned topics.
Research and Methods: Caffeine and Performance
It was fairly easy to find research on the use of caffeine in athletics, though most frequently it was used with endurance athletes (cycling and running), though it’s no secret that many pre-workout products contain caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to increase peak power, mean power, and grip strength, but also post-exercise blood pressure (r).
The typical dosage for athletes in the literature I read ranged from 3-10mg / Kg of body weight at time intervals ranging from 30 - 90 minutes pre-workout, though at least one study noted that required dosage may change depending on one’s tolerance to caffeine (r, r, r). In my study I also computed a caffeine ratio / density, that is mg / minute and will be included in the correlation / regression calculations. On the other hand, Robb Wolf mentioned an “optimal” dose of caffeine being 50-60 mg / 2-4 hours (r) for mental clarity and physical performance.
I also found (resource above) that I fall into the genotype Rs5751876-c, which suggest I have a “reduce ergogencic” effect from caffeine. That is, a reduce sleep quality. The article suggested lowering the dose or increasing the time of use before exercise (think slow digestion, delayed effect, and disrupted sleep). Dosages and times (and thereby caffeine density) were randomly assigned at the beginning of my study.
This changed slightly in the last 1 1/2 weeks of the study as I took note of my total daily caffeine intake which I had not been logging prior. This was a mistake on my part as it surely effects my tolerance to the drug. As a result I began to monitor and decrease my total daily caffeine intake, though the pre-workout dosing generally remained consistent with the pre-defined doses. As a control, there were days where no caffeine was used pre-workout or very marginal doses at the end of the trial.
Caffeine was ingested in the form of organic coffee (Death Wish, or Dunkin’ Decaf). The measured workout consisted of 500 kettle bell swings and 150 kettle bell overhead presses with a 25 lb kettle bell for time.