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Caffeine and Athletic Performance

Sally Perkins explains how to maximise the effects of caffeine on athletic performance.

The most widely consumed drug in the world, caffeine has been shown by numerous studies to have positive effects on sports performance. Even younger athletes aged 11-18 take caffeine to try and improve their athletic performance. But while the benefits of caffeine on sports performance are undeniable, these benefits are only reaped when caffeine is taken strategically. When taken in the right amounts at the right times, using a method appropriate for the athlete's body, caffeine can significantly boost the athlete's performance.

The best caffeine source

Drinking coffee is the most common way to get caffeine, but it may not be the best way to get your fix. One study has found coffee not to be as strong as caffeine pills, deducing that something in coffee must be inhibiting caffeine. However, another study later negated this finding, concluding that combining decaf coffee and caffeine pills is not necessarily more efficient. Since the best caffeine source is yet to be determined, the best thing to do for now is experiment with different sources of caffeine, such as coffee, tea, caffeine pills and energy drinks to find what works best for your individual performance levels.

How much caffeine to take

The amount of caffeine a person needs to take to unlock its athletic benefits varies by body weight. Naturally, heavier people will need to consume more while lighter individuals will need less. Healthline.com states that about 200-400 mg should be taken to maximise the benefits. For some athletes, the easiest way to get the recommended amount may be to drink two big cups of coffee per day. It is important to note that various solid foods such as dark chocolate also contain caffeine and that it is possible to unwittingly get more than the recommended amount.

How often and when to take caffeine

Athletes are recommended to take a big dose of caffeine one hour before the sports event. If taken on an empty stomach, caffeine will begin to circulate in the blood in 15 minutes, while it can take 45 minutes or more if it is taken with food. Once caffeine is in the body, it will stay for at least five hours. As for how often to take caffeine, athletes are advised against taking it on a regular basis as this would increase the body's tolerance for it, negatively affecting the athlete's sports performance.

Taking caffeine is a great way to improve athletic performance as it increases endurance, muscle power and reaction time, but only if done so strategically. It is important that athletes find the caffeine source that works best for them and that they take the required amount at the appropriate times.


Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • PERKINS, S. (2019) Caffeine and Athletic Performance [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/article435.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years' experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.

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