Caffeine has become a hot topic these days; a topic that kind of comes and goes.
SCAN (the dietetic practice group for sports nutrition) just put out these recommendations:
Caffeine and Athletic Performance
• There is evidence that caffeine may enhance performance in endurance athletes (e.g. cyclists, runners, swimmers and rowers) and speed
endurance athletes (e.g. mid-distance runners, and soccer, rugby and hockey players).
• Caffeine does not appear to increase weight loss but may delay fatigue and improve mental sharpness.
• Side effects include: anxiety, jitteriness, rapid heartbeat, upset stomach, and insomnia.
• Caffeine is an addictive substance. Tolerance may minimize benefits, and withdrawal symptoms can negatively impact performance.
• Caffeine, in high amounts (>15 ug/mL in the urine), is a banned substance by the NCAA. For most individuals, more than 500mg right before competition may result in a positive test.
Strategies for Caffeine Consumers:
• Timing: ~1 hour pre-competition, but practice during training first
• Amount: Tolerance depends on the individual, but 2 – 6 mg/kg body weight (no more than 9 mg/kg) is adequate.
• Type: Researchers suggest that caffeine, in pill form, may be more effective than drinking coffee and is better tolerated.
Caffeine Source Amount (mg)
Brewed Coffee (8 oz.) 60 – 150
Energy Drinks / Energy Bars (varies depending on size & brand) 80 – 200+
Pills (1 tablet) 100
Soda / Tea (8 oz.) 40 – 60
One athlete reports:
I usually have a couple of cups of coffee before my long bike rides. My riding partners swear that caffeine gives them
a competitive edge and tell me that I should be consuming more. Is all of the hype about caffeine true, and if so, how
much is safe?
Caffeine and Athlete Performance
Tips to Take With You
1. Know what you’re putting in your body.
Some caffeine-containing products may have additional additives that could impair performance.
2. In moderation, caffeine does not cause dehydration or electrolyte imbalance, but athletes should rely on non-caffeinated beverages when rapid hydration is necessary.
3. Meet with a sports RD to determine if caffeine is appropriate for you.
© 2013 Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN)