The Effectiveness of Caffeine in Exercise Performance


The Effectiveness of Caffeine in Exercise Performance



Faculty Mentor

Majid Koozehchian, Kinesiology; Gina Mabrey, Kinesiology


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9:00-9:10am | Houston Cole Library, 11th Floor


Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive substances in the nation and the entire world. Caffeine is contained naturally in dozens of different plants, including coffee, tea, and cocoa. The substance is mainly consumed in the form of coffee. However, there has been a recent increase in its usage in energy drinks. In young adults and exercising individuals, there has been a rise in caffeine consumption in caffeine-containing products in the form of pre-workout supplements, chews, aerosols, and other caffeinated food products. Due to their high consumption, caffeine-containing products and caffeine have been a long-standing topic of interest. Most importantly, the rise in caffeine consumption in the sporting world increased the interest of researchers who began studying these products' effectiveness on exercise performance. According to research, the mechanism of action or MOA that caffeine has on the central nervous system (CNS) seems to be why the substance alters performance.

The substance is believed to exert its effect on the CNS via the antagonism of adenosine receptors, leading to an increase in neurotransmitter release, motor unit firing rates, and pain suppression. Due to its molecular similarity to adenosine, caffeine binds to adenosine receptors after ingestion increasing the concentration of these neurotransmitters. This ultimately results in positive effects on mood, vigilance, focus, and alertness. Caffeine supplementation enhances muscular endurance, movement velocity, muscular strength, sprinting, jumping, throwing performance, and anaerobic sport-specific actions when utilized for exercise performance. Most results of utilizing caffeine are witnessed in aerobic endurance performances, above all when utilized in doses of 3-6 mg/kg body mass. Different studies have been made on the effectiveness of lower doses of caffeine (2mg/kg) and high doses (9 mg/kg). The effect of minimal doses of caffeine remains unclear, while high doses are associated with a high incidence of side effects and do not seem to be required to provoke an ergogenic effect. Active individuals tend to utilize caffeine supplementation 60 minutes prior to exercise, but research has shown that the optimal time of ingestion highly depends on the source itself. The substance improves performance and cognitive function, including attention and vigilance, even in individuals under conditions of sleep deprivation. Side effects of caffeine include sleep deprivation or restlessness, agitation, and, in some cases, anxiety but the substance is considered safe when utilized in the recommended amount.

Physically active individuals that utilize pre-workout or caffeine supplements seem to have better anaerobic and aerobic performance. Due to caffeine's tendency to affect CNS function, anti-doping authorities have investigated the drug throughout the years. Both be IOC, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned the substance in 1984 and 2000. A doping offense was defined as having a urinary caffeine concentration exceeding a cut-off of 15 ug/mL. The two associations removed the classification in 2004, which caused a rise in caffeine intake among the athletic population. Interestingly, caffeine is categorized as a banned substance by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) if urinary caffeine concentration exceeds 15 ug/ml. Although further research needs to be done to determine the specific amount of caffeine that the active population could safely ingest without it being considered doping, the substance has been shown to improve performance and cognitive function among active and non-active populations.


student research, kinesiology


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The Effectiveness of Caffeine in Exercise Performance