Overview

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  • Caffeine improves physical performance: The effects of coffee consumption on sports performance are linked to the caffeine in coffee, rather than to coffee itself. There is clear evidence that caffeine can have an ergogenic effect, meaning it can improve physical performance.1
  • Caffeine improves performance during endurance exercise: The effect of caffeine on sports performance is most evident in endurance (aerobic) sports lasting more than five minutes e.g. running, cycling and rowing. Studies have shown that in endurance exercise, caffeine improves time-trial performance and has shown a reduction in muscle pain.2
  • Caffeine improves short-term high intensity performance: In short-term, high-intensity (anaerobic) exercise caffeine also has an ergogenic effect, such as in trained athletes performing high-intensity exercises and team sports.3
  • Caffeine may increase adrenalin production during exercise: For both aerobic and anaerobic exercises, caffeine most likely exerts its effect via caffeine-mediated antagonism of the adenosine receptors in the brain – a pathway that leads to an increased production of adrenalin, which stimulates energy production and improves blood flow to the muscles and heart.4
  • Caffeine may reduce perceived levels of pain and exertion: Caffeine may modulate central fatigue, a type of fatigue caused by neurochemical changes in the brain associated with prolonged exercise, and therefore influence ratings of perceived exertion, perceived pain, and levels of vigour, all of which are likely to lead to improvements in performance.11,12
  • Caffeine does not adversely impact fluid balance during exercise: During physical activity caffeine has no significant overall effect on fluid balance and advice to abstain from caffeinated beverages before and during exercise is unfounded.4
  • Position statements on caffeine: Because of its ergogenic effects, caffeine has been the subject of review by official bodies. The International Society of Sports Nutrition issued a position statement on caffeine supplementation and sports performance in 2010.5 Additionally, EFSA finalised its Scientific Opinion on Caffeine in 2015.6

The content in this Topic Overview was last edited in January 2016. Papers in the Latest Research section and further resources are added regularly.

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