This information is intended for healthcare and professional audiences.
At a Glance
- Any effects of coffee consumption on sports performance are linked to the caffeine in coffee, rather than to coffee, per se.
- There is clear evidence that caffeine can have an ergogenic effect, i.e. it can improve physical performance.
- This effect is most evident in endurance (aerobic) sports, such as running, cycling and rowing.
- The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently stated that a cause and effect relationship has been established for caffeine intake and increased endurance performance (3mg/kg body weight 1 hour before exercise), endurance capacity (3mg/kg body weight 1 hour before exercise), and a reduction in perceived exertion (4mg/kg body weight 1 hour before exercise)1
- In short-term, high intensity (anaerobic) sports, although caffeine appears to have an ergogenic effect in certain types of exercise, such as in trained athletes performing intermittent exercises and team sports, the overall evidence on the effect of caffeine on short-term, high-intensity activities remains inconclusive. EFSA does not currently consider there to be sufficient published science to support a cause and effect relationship1.
- Caffeine most likely exerts its effects via a pathway that leads to an increased production of adrenalin, which stimulates energy production and improves blood flow to the muscles and the heart.
- Caffeine may moderate fatigue and influence ratings of exertion, perceived pain and energy levels, all of which are likely to lead to improvements in performance.
- In January 2004, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) removed caffeine from its list of banned substances. Caffeine has also been the subject of a review by the International Society of Sports Nutrition which issued a position paper on caffeine supplementation and sports performance in 2010.
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