Modafinil & Sports

Effect of Modafinil on sports

In addition to the cognitive enhancing effects of Modafinil, it also has effects on athletic performance. In this article we elaborate on this and review the pros and cons that come along with the use of Modafinil regarding sports.

Pro 1: Motivation to go to the gym

Modafinil is famous for its ability to give the motivation needed to begin and finish (daily) tasks [1]. This is not only applicable to cognitive tasks at the office or during studying; but can also be used for a task like going to the gym. Of course, there are people for whom working out is part of their daily routine and so they easily achieve their goals regarding their sports. But most of the people work out for the results of a it and not because they enjoy the activity itself. For these people, even reaching the gym can be quite a burden, especially after a long tiresome day of working or studying, which drains motivation. Modafinil will help boosting the motivation to go to the gym. Users have stated that when taking Modafinil in the morning, the effects made them feel motivated throughout the rest of the day and evening, which made it easier for them to hit the gym after a long day.

Pro 2: More focus during a work-out

The second avail is felt during the work-out. Modafinil helps you focus on your activities and this includes the physical ones. When you’re in the gym while feeling the effects of Modafinil, you have one goal and that is where you focus on. You are not distracted by other things. Everyone going to the gym is familiar with people who are more focused on their smartphone then on the equipment they’re occupying, lacking focus and concentration. Modafinil helps focusing on your training physically and mentally, which makes the training more efficient and also finishing quicker.

Pro 3: More intense work-out

Modafinil suppresses fatigue and sleep [2]. It will cause you to be less tired during a work-out. This does not mean that you’ll advance your strength and be able to lift heavier, but it will definitely have a positive effect on your endurance, causing you to do one or two reps more than normal. The biggest effects are however not felt during weight lifting, but during cardio. You will be able to literally run the extra mile.

It is a known fact that muscle gain is not achieved during the work-out itself, but during the recovery after a work-out. Working out breaks down the muscle fibre, which is then rebuilt and made stronger after the exercise. Modafinil is able to increase the intensity of the work-out. A more intense work-out is able to result in more muscle-gain after a work-out, albeit only on the condition of enough nutrition and protein.

The attentive reader might be thinking at this point that if this story is correct and Modafinil is able to improve endurance and muscle gain as a “performance enhancing agent”, it definitely has to be considered as doping for professional athletes, right? The answer: yes it is 🙂 Since 2004 Modafinil is put on the WADC banned list [3]. Not because the performance enhancing effects are near as powerful as for example steroids are, but because athletes that were using it would have an unfair advantage over others.

Pro 4 & Con 1: Suppression of appetite

One of the most experienced and reported side effects of Modafinil is suppression of appetite. Some people mention that they eat less while using Modafinil and others forget to eat and skip a meal altogether. Whether this is an advantage or a disadvantage depends on the focus of your work-out, gaining mass (“bulking”) or losing fat (“cutting”). There is no scientific data regarding whether people using Modafinil on average have a lower calorie intake or not, but we can definitely state that if your plan is to eat less, it is a lot easier to achieve this while using Modafinil, because of the suppressed appetite. For users of Modafinil who have the goal of losing fat, this effect is definitely an advantage: Modafinil makes it easier to eat less during the day. For people who are building muscle (“bulking”), this is a disadvantage, because it can take more effort to ingest the same amount of calories.

Important issues concerning working out with Modafinil

Nearly all points mentioned above are positive, but there are also things to take into consideration when using Modafinil while doing sports. The most important one being that Modafinil can dehydrate you quicker. While working out while Modafinil is still active in your body, it is essential to keep yourself hydrated, even more than you usually would do while working out. When doing endurance sports, you can add a sports drink for the electrolytes in addition to water. Do not forget to drink sufficiently before, during and after a work-out, since dehydration can negatively influence your physical abilities. Going running for two hours on a warm day without drinking enough water is just dangerous and irresponsible. Another thing to take into consideration is that Modafinil can slightly elevate your blood pressure and heart-rate, although in the same extend as caffeine does [4][5]. People who already have elevated blood pressure should not use Modafinil in the first place, let alone use Modafinil and go for a work-out.

Conclusion

Modafinil is used as a brain enhancement supplement, for increasing focus and concentration for cognitive tasks. For users of Modafinil, who go for a work-out during or at the end of their working day, it can have interesting effects on their achievements in sports. It can boost the motivation and make it easier to go to the gym and reach your own gym goals for the week. While being in the gym, you can have a more focused work-out, being able to do everything in a shorter period of time. You will be less tired during the training and train harder: especially for endurance sports. And last, it suppresses your appetite and it can make it easier if you’re on a limited calory intake per day. The disadvantages are that you’re dehydrated quicker and need to pro-actively continue hydration. Second, if you’re bulking and on a high calory intake, Modafinil can make it more difficult because of the suppressed appetite. To conclude, we have shown that Modafinil is able to positively affect your athletic performance. The main goal of Modafinil should always remain cognitive enhancement and not performance enhancement.

 

 

References

[1] Müller U, Rowe JB, Rittman T, Lewis C, Robbins TW, Sahakian BJ. Effects of modafinil on non-verbal cognition, task enjoyment and creative thinking in healthy volunteers. Neuropharmacology. 2013;64:490-5.
[2] Pigeau R, Naitoh P, Buguet A, McCann C, Baranski J, Taylor M, et al. Modafinil, d-amphetamine and placebo during 64 hours of sustained mental work. I. Effects on mood, fatigue, cognitive performance and body temperature. J Sleep Res. 1995;4:212-28.
[3] Kaufman KR.. Modafinil in sports: ethical considerations.. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2005;39(4):241-4.
[4] Del Coso J, Salinero JJ, González-Millán C, Abián-Vicén J, Pérez-González B., et al. Dose response effects of a caffeine-containing energy drink on muscle performance: a repeated measures design. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 May 8;9(1):21.
[5] Childs E, de Wit H.Subjective, behavioral, and physiological effects of acute caffeine in light, nondependent caffeine users. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2006 May;185(4):514-23.