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Is caffeine beneficial for Endurance Performance?

May 27, 2021

Today on Coffee & Questions I answered your question - Is caffeine good for endurance performance?

  • Where can you find it?

  • Is there evidence for the use of caffeine?

  • What are the effects of caffeine?

  • How much do you need to take? More is not better

Below is a brief summary but please watch the replay to get all of the gold nuggets on caffeine use!

Caffeine is a widely used, socially acceptable stimulant.

Where can you find caffeine? 

Find it in tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks, chocolate and supplemented sports foods like gels and bloks/chews.

Caffeine content varies widely

Here are some examples: 

What does the evidence say?

There is a solid body of evidence that supports caffeine use to enhance endurance exercise performance, with studies dating back to the 1970s.

It was removed from the WADA doping list back in 2004

In the AIS supplement framework, it is a group A supplement with evidence-based protocols

Caffeine's Effects

Major benefits achieved through CNS effects

Effects include:

  • the mobilisation of fat from adipose tissue and the muscle cell (yes please!),
  • changes to muscle contractility,
  • lowering the perceived rate of exertion (how hard you feel you’re working),
  • effects on the heart muscle and stimulation of adrenaline (our fight or flight hormone)

Caffeine absorption 

Caffeine has a half-life of approximately 6-7 hours,

Peak blood concentrations occurring around 45-60 minutes

People have varied responses to caffeine - both positive & negative

There are responders and non-responders

It’s important to trial caffeine in training before any thought of introducing it into a race.

How much caffeine do you need?

Over the last 15 years, research has refined recommendations for caffeine use

We need an amount per kg - which has been significantly reduced over the years

More is not better - performance effects plateaus

Figure out the smallest possible dose to have the greatest effect

More is not better

Risk of negative effects - Increased HR, impaired fine motor control, anxiety overarousal

When to use caffeine?

I'd suggest looking at using it Before and During endurance exercise

Play around with what works best for you and your particular event

If you currently use caffeine or are intending to use it, start with a low dose (1mg/kg) in training and build up to develop your own protocol that enhances performance using the lowest effective dose for you

THERE IS NO NEED TO WITHDRAW from caffeine before an event - it doesn't heighten the effects or improve performance so keep your daily coffee and thank me later ;)

And lastly, caffeine is not a substitute for quality training and race experience. Caffeine supplementation also shouldn’t be considered for younger athletes.

If you're a Triathlete looking to improve your nutrition, join the waitlist now for our new Triathlon Nutrition Academy. COMING SOON!



If you want help putting into practice any of the strategies above, or are looking for a Sports Dietitian to help you with training and racing nutrition, learn how you can work with me HERE


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