Does caffeine increase sports performance?

thelink-article-102018-janineHistory of Coffee

Coffee – the liquid gold (well not literally, it’s more a browny colour, but you get the point). Today, coffee is the second most traded commodity (petroleum is number one). Entire road rides are planned purely based on this beverage so it has a substantial influence on its consumers.

Where did this drink originate from? Well, no one knows exactly but there are a few accounts thought to have been Ethiopia, but the evidence isn’t solid. In the 15th century, coffee was being grown in Yemen, by the 16th century it had moved to the Middle East, and later on it made its way to Europe and America.

Types of coffee

The 12 most common ways to drink a cup of coffee are: espresso (short black), double espresso (doppio), short macchiato, long macchiato, ristretto, long black, café latte, cappuccino, flat white, piccolo latte, mocha and affogato (dessert coffee).

Exercise and sport performance with low doses of caffeine

The secret to coffee’s popularity is an alkaloid compound, caffeine, which is a stimulant of the central nervous system. Given caffeine’s popularity as an ergogenic aid, a.k.a performance enhancer in sport, there has been a body of research done on this particular substance regarding its effectiveness for sports performance. In Spriet’s 2014 study, ‘Exercise and Sport Performance with Low Doses of Caffeine,’ a low dose of caffeine is defined as ingesting ~3 mg/kg body mass or less, which is ~200 mg of caffeine for a 70 kg individual (1-2 small cups of coffee or one large cup have no more than ~ 200mg of caffeine). For endurance sports, a moderate to high caffeine dose (5-13mg/kg body mass) ingested one hour before exercise can increase performance (Spriet, 2014). This is, however, variable, so ingestion will need to be trialled on an individual basis, before and/or during training and competitions to determine if there is an increase in performance.

There seems to be legitimacy for caffeine use in sport performance enhancement in endurance sports but sometimes it also just feels good to have a delicious coffee with your friends after a ride.

Thanks a latte for reading.

By Janine Jungfels – Pushys Sponsored Athlete


Spriet, L 2014, ‘Exercise and Sport Performance with Low Doses of Caffeine,’ Sports Medicine, vol. 44, pg. 175-184, viewed 6 October 2018.

National Coffee Association, The History of Coffee, viewed 7 October 2018, http://www.ncausa.org/about-coffee/history-of-coffee.

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