How Does Caffeine Affect Athletic Performance?

12 Nov

Caffeine mainly acts as a central nervous system stimulant.  The vast majority of competitive athletes consume it, with more than half consuming it for the purpose of enhancing performance.  The benefits of caffeine include increased work output, speed, arousal and focus, combined with reduced perceived exertion and fatigue.

Caffeine is found in foods like chocolate, soft drinks, coffee, and tea.  A typical cup of coffee contains about 120 mg of caffeine.

Caffeine’s Effect on Athletic Performance

  • Improves reaction time, alertness, and focus
  • Decreases the body’s reliance on muscle glycogen (stored energy)
  • Increases the body’s absorption and use of consumed carbohydrates
  • Prolongs endurance performance
  • May increase the threshold for pain and discomfort

Caffeine specifically benefits prolonged endurance performance.  Sports lasting longer than an hour with sustained effort will benefit more from players consuming caffeine than sports with short bursts and duration.  Endurance sports such as running, cycling, and cross-country skiing; high-intensity sports such as swimming and rowing; and team sports such as soccer and basketball all benefit from caffeine supplementation by allowing players to increase work production, speed, and accuracy.  Caffeine does not necessarily offer a performance-enhancing benefit for strength and power activities, such as resistance training.

Caffeine supplementation of 3 to 6 mg per kilogram of body weight one hour before exercise is most effective.  The main drawback to caffeine is a potential diuretic effect, which could lead to dehydration, but caffeine does not increase fluid loss when consumed during exercise.

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One Response to “How Does Caffeine Affect Athletic Performance?”

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  1. Coffee, Caffeine, and Exercise | Athletic Performance Training Center - November 16, 2016

    […] How Does Caffeine Affect Athletic Performance? […]

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