Coffee isn’t the only (or necessarily the best) source of caffeinecoffee

Coffee plays a large role in the daily life of many athletes.  However, is coffee the best way for athletes to consume caffeine prior to exercise to get their performance enhancing fix?  While the answer to this question may seem an obvious “yes!” – the scientific literature begs to differ.  An interesting study was designed to answer this question, and compared caffeine ingestion in coffee compared to caffeine ingested as a capsule (1). This was a well designed, double blind study with all the proper controls. They found the same dose of caffeine ingested as coffee or as a capsule (4.45 mg/kg body weight) resulted in similar blood caffeine concentrations.  However, only the caffeine capsule increased performance during a run to exhaustion at 85% VO2max! The authors concluded that there must be components of coffee that counteract the actions of caffeine to improve performance. While these are results from only one study, it suggests that not all caffeine is created equal.  Athletes may want to consider consuming caffeine in a form other than coffee in order to improve performance.

References (Adapted from upcoming article “Caffeine and Taurine: The Perfect Marriage”)

1. Graham TE, Hibbert E, and Sathasivam P. Metabolic and exercise endurance effects of coffee and caffeine ingestion. Journal of applied physiology 85: 883-889, 1998.

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