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Caffeine for Performance
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance, and is a stimulant found in naturally occurring sources such as coffee, tea, and cacao. It can also be found in energy drinks, soft drinks, or in supplement form. There’s quite a high range of variability in how much caffeine these products contain.
Does caffeine improve your performance?
There has been quite a large body of research conducted on the performance benefits of caffeine. Although there are several proposed mechanisms, the main reason is thought to be its effect on the central nervous system to reduce our perceived level of fatigue or effort. Caffeine has been shown to enhance both aerobic and anaerobic actions including, but not limited to, muscular endurance, strength, sprinting, jumping and throwing, with the largest benefits seen in aerobic endurance sports. So, athletes who participate in endurance, high intensity, or team sports may benefit from caffeine.
How much should I have?
Most studies have looked at higher doses of caffeine, between 3-6mg per kg of body mass per day. However, there is growing research that 1-3mg of caffeine per kg of body weight per day positively affects performance in the same way but may reduce unwanted side effects. Very high doses are not recommended.
When should I take it?
Ideally, caffeine should be taken an hour before exercise to experience the benefits. With a half-life of 3.5-5 hours, both dosage and timing are important because too much caffeine can impair sleep quality which may reduce recovery. Ideally, caffeine should be taken in the morning but if used for exercising at night, it should be used with consideration.
Who should avoid using caffeine?
Caffeine may have a negative effect on nervous athletes as it can induce anxiety, and in this case should be avoided. There’s also the potential for caffeine to lead to gastrointestinal issues.
Caffeine has the potential to improve performance particularly for athletes who compete in team sports, endurance sports, or high intensity sports. If you’re interested in seeing how caffeine may be beneficial for you, book a consultation with us for individualised advice around how caffeine may be used to increase your performance.
Guest NS, VanDusseldorp TA, Nelson MT, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2021;18(1):1. Published 2021 Jan 2. doi:10.1186/s12970-020-00383-4