Does Caffeine Help Performance?

By James Brown | In | on February 27, 2017

Caffeine is a proven exercise performance enhancer that not only can boost your strength in the gym, but can help burn fat as well. The scientific literature on caffeine is impressive and the following exerpt is from the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition:

The scientific literature associated with caffeine supplementation is extensive. It is evident that caffeine is indeed ergogenic to sport performance but is specific to condition of the athlete as well as intensity, duration, and mode of exercise. Therefore, after reviewing the available literature, the following conclusions can be drawn:

  • Caffeine is more powerful when consumed in an anhydrous state (capsule/tablet, powder), as compared to coffee.

  • The majority of research has utilized a protocol where caffeine is ingested 60 min prior to performance to ensure optimal absorption; however, it has also been shown that caffeine can enhance performance when consumed 15-30 min prior to exercise.

  • Caffeine is effective for enhancing various types of performance when consumed in low-to-moderate doses (~3-6 mg/kg); moreover, there is no further benefit when consumed at higher dosages (≥ 9 mg/kg).

  • During periods of sleep deprivation, caffeine can act to enhance alertness and vigilance, which has been shown to be an effective aid for special operations military personnel, as well as athletes during times of exhaustive exercise that requires sustained focus.

  • Caffeine is an effective ergogenic aid for sustained maximal endurance activity, and has also been shown to be very effective for enhancing time trial performance.

  • Recently, it has been demonstrated that caffeine can enhance, not inhibit, glycogen resynthesis during the recovery phase of exercise.

  • Caffeine is beneficial for high-intensity exercise of prolonged duration (including team sports such as soccer, field hockey, rowing, etc.), but the enhancement in performance is specific to conditioned athletes.

  • The literature is inconsistent when applied to strength and power activities or sports. It is not clear whether the discrepancies in results are due to differences in training protocols, training or fitness level of the subjects, etc. Nonetheless, more studies are needed to establish the effects of caffeine vis a vis strength-power sports.

  • Research pertaining exclusively to women is limited; however, recent studies have shown a benefit for conditioned strength-power female athletes and a moderate increase in performance for recreationally active women.

  • The scientific literature does not support caffeine-induced dieresis during exercise. In fact, several studies have failed to show any change in sweat rate, total water loss, or negative change in fluid balance that would adversely affect performance, even under conditions of heat stress.



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