Coffee consumption and sports performance – Part 1

Print this page

This is the first of three blog posts on the topic of coffee consumption and sports performance, concentrating on the effect of caffeine on aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Coffee and Health also houses current scientific information on a wide range of other coffee-related topics.

Caffeine and performance in endurance (aerobic) exercise

It has been shown that caffeine can improve performance in individuals taking part in endurance-type, aerobic exercise.

In an interview, available to view here, Dr Andrew Blannin from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, at the University of Birmingham in the UK explains:

“The beneficial effects of coffee on sports performance are due to the caffeine within the coffee. In 2011, EFSA concluded that caffeine was indeed an ergogenic aid and that’s because it’s been shown to improve endurance performance, endurance capacity and ratings of perceived exertion. Performance benefits can be seen with moderate intakes of coffee.”

Caffeine linked to faster times in endurance races

A recent review in which subjects had to run, cycle or row a set distance saw faster times recorded in individuals who consumed caffeine. This effect was seen in individuals taking moderate quantities of caffeine before and/or during exercise.

Caffeine may help reduce muscle pain

Muscle pain during exercise can impede performance. Caffeine ingestion of 5mg/kg body weight has been found to reduce muscle pain for a group of subjects carrying out 30 minutes of high-intensity cycling, compared to another group who had not consumed any caffeine.

Caffeine and performance in short-term high-intensity (anaerobic) exercise

Although there is some evidence pointing to positive effects of caffeine on short-term high intensity exercise, there is a wide variation in results between studies. EFSA does not currently consider there to be sufficient scientific proof to support a set position.

Caffeine appears to improve performance in specific individuals

Studies in high intensity, anaerobic exercisefound the effects of caffeine to be more evident in certain groups of people involved in specific sports. These could include trained athletes engaging in power-based sports, team sports, and sports requiring intermittent bouts of activity. Additionally, a moderate amount of caffeine was more effective than a high dose.

Caffeine and sports aids may have an additive effect

A recent study found that when caffeine was given to subjects playing a simulated soccer match, as well as a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink, there was a significant improvement in short distance sprinting and jumping in the group who consumed caffeine as well as their sports drink.

The effects of caffeine appear to be time-limited

Two trials looking at anaerobic exercise repetition in trained and active people reported that the ingestion of caffeine produced an improved performance in the first set of exercises, but not in the second set. This suggests that the effects of caffeine are only short-term.

For more information on coffee and sports performance, and to view information sources, click here.

Also, to see Dr Andrew Blannin, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK, discuss the latest research on the relationship between coffee consumption; sports performance and fluid balance with Dr Trisha Macnair, hospital physician and health journalist view our vodcast here.

This information is intended for Healthcare professional audiences.
Please consider the environment before printing.