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Caffeine and sport performance

Summary

Caffeine can improve performance in most sports.

Caffeine can improve focus, especially if sleep deprived.

Too much caffeine can reduce performance

Caffeine can contribute to dehydration and loose bowels.


What does caffeine do?

Caffeine has the biggest effect on aerobic endurance exercise. It has also been shown to have an effect on muscular velocity and strength too, but not as much (jumping, throwing and sprinting exercises). It also can have a cognitive benefit and improves cognition and performance under sleep deprivation.


How does caffeine increase sport performance ?

The most studied mechanism of action for caffeine is binding to the neuro-transmitter adenosine and preventing adenosine from binding to its target receptor and cause and effect. Adenosine is well documented to cause need for sleep and this explains caffeine's effect on sleep. Adenosine receptors are also in the circulatory, respiratory and urinary systems.


So caffeine also has an effect on these systems in addition to the brain. Adenosine also regulates release of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and other neuro active molecules. This means caffeine can impact emotions.


Down sides of caffeine

Caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety

Caffeine can exacerbate dehydration as it is excreted in urine

Caffeine is theorised to effect women differently due to estrogen and oral contraceptives influencing the metabolism of caffeine.


How much caffeine to increase sport performance

Most research on dose is using 3-6mg per kg of body weight. Some people do respond well to smaller doses. Dosage is individual due to genetic differences processing caffeine and tolerance from habitual intake.


The timing is dependent on the route it is taken. Orally 60minutes before exercise is suggested. A mouth wash or chewing gum which is absorbed sub-lingually (through the tongue) can be taken closer 15-20mins.





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