Position Statement – Caffeine and Performance

The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) regularly develops Position Stands on issues related to sport nutrition. In 2010, 15 world-reknown sport scientists and sports nutritionists came together to develop a concensus on what the available research suggests pertaining to the use of caffeine in sport. Below is a summary of what they had to say.

  1. Caffeine is effective for enhancing sport performance in trained athletes when consumed in low-to-moderate dosages (~3-6 mg/kg of body weight) and overall does not result in further enhancement in performance when consumed in higher dosages (>/= 9 mg/kg of body weight). Click here to see a table produced by the Australian Institute of Sport giving the mg of caffeine found in common foods and fluids.
  2. Caffeine exerts a greater ergogenic effect when consumed in an anhydrous (tablet) (e.g. No Doz) state as compared to coffee (or Red Bull/Coke etc).
  3. The majority of research has utilized a protocol where caffeine is ingested 60 min prior to performance to ensure optimal absorption; however, it has also been shown that caffeine can enhance performance when consumed 15-30 min prior to exercise.
  4. Caffeine can enhance vigilance and concentration during bouts of extended exhaustive exercise, as well as periods of sustained sleep deprivation.
  5. Caffeine is ergogenic for sustained maximal endurance exercise, and has been shown to be highly effective for time-trial performance.
  6. Caffeine supplementation is beneficial for high-intensity exercise (e.g. rowing), including team sports such as soccer and rugby, both of which are categorized by intermittent activity within a period of prolonged duration. Moderate caffeine supplementation in the range of 4-6 mg/kg body weight can be advantageous to either short term or intermittent/prolonged duration high-intensity performance, but only in trained athletes.
  7. Caffeine can enhance, not inhibit, glycogen resynthesis during the recovery phase of exercise. That is, we can enhance recovery of our muscle’s carbohydrate supplies if we use caffeine after training.
  8. The literature is equivocal when considering the effects of caffeine supplementation on strength-power performance. However, it appears that in trained athletes caffeine supplementation may enhance performance, especially in upper body performance. Additional research in this area is warranted.
  9. The scientific literature does not support caffeine-induced diuresis (urine production) during exercise, or any harmful change in fluid balance that would negatively affect performance. While there may be an argument for caffeine-induced diuresis at rest, the research does not indicate any significant negative effect of caffeine on sweat loss and thus fluid balance during exercise that would adversely affect performance.

If you want to read more on the specific details on how these key points were arrived at, check out the actual Position Stand of the ISSN by clicking here.

As in all things, try things before you buy them. I certainly have used No Doz tablets before long road races on the bike, marathons and ultra runs, and half ironman or full ironman events. I have no doubt it works for me.