What is Caffeine and How it works?
Caffeine is one of the most widely used stimulants in the world and is commonly consumed to help improve focus and alertness. But did you know that caffeine can also have a significant impact on your endurance performance, particularly in cycling? In this blog, we will explore the effects of caffeine on endurance sports, specifically cycling, and discuss the latest research on this topic.
Caffeine is known to stimulate the central nervous system and increase the release of adrenaline, which can help to reduce fatigue and improve endurance performance. Studies have shown that caffeine can help to enhance endurance performance in athletes by reducing the perceived effort of exercise and increasing the time to exhaustion (1). Additionally, caffeine has been shown to improve cognitive function and reaction time, which can be particularly useful in sports where quick decision-making is necessary. E.g. Cyclocross, Crits, MTB.
However, it is important to note that the effects of caffeine can vary depending on a number of factors, including the dose, timing, and individual variability. While some individuals may experience significant benefits from caffeine consumption, others may not see as much of an effect.
Research has shown that the optimal dose of caffeine for endurance performance is between 3-6 mg/kg of body weight, which is roughly equivalent to 1-3 cups of coffee for the average person (2). Timing of caffeine consumption is also important, as it takes time for the caffeine to be absorbed and reach peak levels in the bloodstream. Experts recommend consuming caffeine approximately 30-60 minutes before exercise for optimal performance benefits (3).
It undoubtedly has performance-enhancing effects. However, caffeine consumption has also been associated with a number of potential side effects. Gastrointestinal discomfort, increased heart rate, and insomnia. It is important to be aware of these potential side effects and to use caffeine in moderation. There are numerous methods of ingesting caffeine, this needs to be practised in training prior to a race as it can often cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Tablets, gum and gels are often easier to consume than coffee and caffeinated drinks.
How we can help
Overall, the research suggests that caffeine can be a beneficial tool for endurance athletes, particularly in cycling, when used in the correct dose and timing. At AeroFin Performance, our coaches can help you optimise your caffeine consumption to improve your cycling performance, while also ensuring that you are minimising any potential side effects.
- Goldstein, E. R., Ziegenfuss, T., Kalman, D., Kreider, R., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., … & Antonio, J. (2010). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7(1), 5.
- Spriet, L. L. (2014). Exercise and sport performance with low doses of caffeine. Sports Medicine, 44(Suppl 2), 175-184.
- Desbrow, B., Biddulph, C., Devlin, B., Grant, G. D., Anoopkumar-Dukie, S., Leveritt, M. D., … & Leveritt, J. (2012). The effects of different doses of caffeine on endurance cycling time trial performance. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30(2), 115-120.