Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Caffeine and Athletic Performance

Scientists have been studying the effect of caffeine on athletic performance for quite some time. Based on the evidence that exists, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) currently reports that 3 to 9 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight can improve endurance athletic performance (lasting up to 2 hours) and short-term, intense exercise (lasting about 5 minutes).


Body weight = 150 lbs

150 lbs / 2.2 = 68.2 kgs

68.2kgs X 3 mg caffeine = 204.6

68.2kgs X 9 mg caffeine = 613.8

So a person who weighs 150 pounds would need between 205 mg and 614 mg of caffeine. A cup of coffee has at least 100 mg of caffeine.

Studies have shown that caffeine can help to increase power output and speed. Unfortunately, studies cannot confirm that caffeine in the form of coffee will elicit the same results because caffeine was administered in pill form. Fortunately, caffeine does not cause dehydration as commonly thought.

Practical advice: If you are using gels or sports drinks with caffeine in them, know that they are safe and they may even improve your performance. Do not ever try something new on race day! Do not overdo the caffeine. By that, I mean that more is not always better. Be sensible, do not take so much caffeine that you are jittery, and don't expect this to help you win the race. Train, train, train!


  1. If I am currently not supplementing my training with caffeine, should I start? And if so, what would you recommend? I don't really want to start to drink 3 or 4 cups of coffee before a run. You mentioned sport drinks with caffeine...are there any good ones that I could possibly talk my wife into buying :)

  2. Great question. Powerbar and GU make gels that contain caffeine ranging from about 20mg to 75mg per serving. Powerbar even has energy chews that contain caffeine. Of course the idea is that you're taking a serving in about every 45 minutes to an hour. Which product is better? It really depends more on how you feel about it. They all contain electrolytes and carbohydrates, so what works best is really more of a personal preferance. Some of the varieties contain more or less electrolytes and that need is based on your sweat rate. As you can tell, it really depends on the individual. Again, remember not to overdo the caffeine and use the smallest dose that works for you.

  3. Thanks to Busy-Dad-E for bringing Shot Bloks by Clif Bar to my attention. These can also be purchased with caffeine. I will have to try them!

  4. Pinterest, is looking for pictures that motivate me to stay on my healthy path. Everyday I find a picture or a quote that pushes me to choose healthier eating options and to hit the gym, even when I'd rather stay at home and fall asleep.