Impact of Caffeine for the Coffee Afficionado

Does caffeine improve sports performance when athletes habitually consume caffeine? While this question is filled with anecdotes, a recent study just confirmed an earlier report (27), and answered this all important question for the coffee-junkie-athlete crowd. Irwin et al., (16) performed a study with a double blind placebo controlled crossover design in twelve male cyclists, who withdrew from caffeine for 4 days, or consumed a controlled amount of caffeine for 4 days (1.5 mg/kg body weight) (16). Subjects then received an acute dose of caffeine (3mg/kg) 90 min before a cycling time trial. Performance time during the time trial was increased by 3% during acute caffeine ingestion following the 4 day withdrawal period, and by 3.6% without the withdrawal period.  These two responses were not significantly different from one another.  Therefore, the conclusion from the study was that withdrawal from caffeine was not required to receive performance enhancing effects of caffeine.

References (Adapted from upcoming article “Caffeine and Taurine: The Perfect Marriage” -numbers not sequential).

16. Irwin C, Desbrow B, Ellis A, O’Keeffe B, Grant G, and Leveritt M. Caffeine withdrawal and high-intensity endurance cycling performance. J Sports Sci 29: 509-515, 2011.

27. Van Soeren MH, and Graham TE. Effect of caffeine on metabolism, exercise endurance, and catecholamine responses after withdrawal. Journal of applied physiology 85: 1493-1501, 1998.

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