Coffee has always been a controversial topic as it pertains to athletes. Is it healthy, does it help athletic performance, and ultimately should athletes drink it? A recent study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests that coffee consumption can improve performance in endurance athletes. Read on to find out the benefits of coffee and whether you should be drinking it.
Many athletes obtain their daily caffeine intake through coffee; however, the evidence is conflicting regarding the efficacy of coffee in improving endurance performance. This evidence-based review focused on three goals: evaluate the effects of pre-exercise coffee on endurance performance; evaluate the effects of coffee on perceived exertion during endurance performance; and translate the research into usable information for athletes to make informed decisions regarding the intake of caffeine via coffee as a potential ergogenic aid.
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Within the test, searches of three major databases were performed using the terms caffeine, coffee, coffee-caffeine, endurance and aerobic. Included studies evaluated the effects of caffeinated coffee on human subjects, provided the caffeine dose administered, administered caffeine 45 minutes before testing, and included a measure of endurance performance via time trial.
Researchers observed significant improvements in endurance performance in five of nine studies, which were on average 24.2 percent over controls for time to exhaustion trials, and 3.1 percent for time to completion trials. Three of six studies found that coffee reduced perceived performance measures of exertion significantly more than control conditions. Coffee providing 3 to 8.1mg/kg (1.36-3.68mg/lb) of caffeine may be used as a safe alternative to anhydrous caffeine to improve endurance performance.
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Based on the reviewed studies, some evidence supports the benefits of coffee as an ergogenic aid to improve performance in endurance cycling and running. If you enjoy coffee and you’re looking for something to supplement your diet to help you increase your endurance performance, sipping some pre-workout coffee may be exactly what you need.
Higgins, S. (2015), “The Effects of Pre-Exercise Caffeinated-Coffee Ingestion on Endurance Performance: An Evidence-Based Review,” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26568580
Andrew Meyers is a NASM-certified personal trainer at Youfit Health Club in Gilbert, Ariz. He specializes in long-distance running and weightlifting. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from Grand Canyon University, where he also ran cross country and track.