Coaching Association of Canada

Does Caffeine Boost Performance?

It is true that caffeine can improve athletic performance without impairing the body's temperature regulation or hydration. A single ml single serving energy drink typically contain 80-100mg of caffeine including those from herbal sources, such as guarana seeds, kola nut or yerba mate.

Research has shown that even relatively small doses of caffeine (3 mg caffeine per kg body weight), taken one hour before exercise, can enhance reaction time, concentration and alertness, and improve performance in both endurance events (over 20 minutes) and short high intensity events (1-5 minutes) by 1-3% in elite athletes.

The effects of caffeine on the body are not yet fully understood, but it appears to stimulate the central nervous system, reduce the perceived effort of exercise and enhance muscle fibre contraction.

Caffeine Content of Various Beverages

Drinks (250 ml) Caffeine (mg)
Drip coffee 110-180
Brewed coffee 70-130
Instant coffee 40-100
Espresso (1 oz) 65
Brewed tea 20-60
Cola 35

Does Caffeine Work for Everyone?

Not everyone enjoys a boost to their performance with caffeine and there is no way to know if it will work for you without a methodical approach to test its effect with assistance from a registered dietician. Side effects of caffeine include insomnia, headache, nervousness, anxiety, inability to focus, arrhythmia, tachycardia, hypertension, lightheadedness, irritability, nausea and gastrointestinal distress. For these reasons, caffeine is a performance enhancing supplement that you need to discuss with your coach, doctor or dietitian and try with caution during training. Health Canada recommends children consume no more than 50 mg of caffeine daily.

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