Caffeine and Endurance Performance


Does Caffeine Enhance Endurance Performance?

Many sports products contain caffeine, and most adults consume caffeine on a daily basis. The question is, does caffeine enhance performance in endurance sports? How much is too much? When should you take it for best results? In this interesting video, Dr. Stephen Lane provides answers to these and other important questions. Here is a summary of what you need to know:

Q: Does caffeine enhance performance in endurance sports?

A: Yes. Performance increase results vary by individual and event. However, the average increase in power output is about 4%. That is significant!

Q: How much should I consume to see an increase in performance?

A: About 3 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight is the recommended amount for optimal effects.

Q: What if I consume more than the recommended amount?

A: There is no evidence that more caffeine will translate into an even better performance. In fact, consuming too much (12 milligrams per kilogram of body weight) can be detrimental and cause unwanted side effects (see last question below).

Q: When should I consume the recommended amount for best results?

A: It depends on the type of event and the source of caffeine. As a general rule, it takes 45-60 minutes for caffeine to reach peak concentration (or “kick in”) in the body. As examples, caffeine capsules take about 60 minutes to reach peak, and caffeine gum takes about 30 minutes.

Q: How often during an event should I consume it to get the best results?

A:  It takes six hours for the caffeine concentration to reach half of its peak level in the body. That means the effects of it last a long time. Again, it depends on the individual’s metabolism, but you get the idea. Therefore, for shorter events such as criterium races, there is no need to consume additional caffeine. For longer events lasting several hours, you may need another “dose” to keep you going. I would estimate that you would need more caffeine between hour 3.5 and 4 of a 6-7 hour ride.

Q: Are there side effects?

A: Caffeine can interfere with an individual’s ability to sleep, considering that it takes six hours for its concentration to reach half of its peak level in the body. It can also cause jitters/shaking if consumed in large quantities. Individuals with heart and other problems should consult their physician first. Lastly, caffeine is not recommended for teenagers.