Caffeine and sports performance

Burke, Louise M.
December 2008
Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism;Dec2008, Vol. 33 Issue 6, p1319
Academic Journal
Athletes are among the groups of people who are interested in the effects of caffeine on endurance and exercise capacity. Although many studies have investigated the effect of caffeine ingestion on exercise, not all are suited to draw conclusions regarding caffeine and sports performance. Characteristics of studies that can better explore the issues of athletes include the use of well-trained subjects, conditions that reflect actual practices in sport, and exercise protocols that simulate real-life events. There is a scarcity of field-based studies and investigations involving elite performers. Researchers are encouraged to use statistical analyses that consider the magnitude of changes, and to establish whether these are meaningful to the outcome of sport. The available literature that follows such guidelines suggests that performance benefits can be seen with moderate amounts (~3 mg·kg-1 body mass) of caffeine. Furthermore, these benefits are likely to occur across a range of sports, including endurance events, stop-and-go events (e.g., team and racquet sports), and sports involving sustained high-intensity activity lasting from 1-60 min (e.g., swimming, rowing, and middle and distance running races). The direct effects on single events involving strength and power, such as lifts, throws, and sprints, are unclear. Further studies are needed to better elucidate the range of protocols (timing and amount of doses) that produce benefits and the range of sports to which these may apply. Individual responses, the politics of sport, and the effects of caffeine on other goals, such as sleep, hydration, and refuelling, also need to be considered.


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