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Researchers Found that Caffeine Can Help Athletic Performance E-mail
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caffeine_drinksCaffeine Studies

Researchers at the Australian Institute of Sport found that athletes who consumed a small intake of caffeine before exercise could continue for up to 30 minutes longer than those who had not consumed it. The caffeine also enabled the athletes to increase the amount of weight lost during physical activity. It also produced a 3.5% increase in exercise capacity.

The team suggests that substances in caffeine trigger muscles to use fat to fuel exercise instead of using the usual stores of carbohydrates. Other studies have found that caffeine taken during exercise can delay the onset of fatigue by up to 60%. (Intakes tested have typically been modest, ie 6-8 ounces of cola or coffee.)

Caffeine Controversy

Despite considerable research in this area, including the work at the  Australian Institute of Sport the role of caffeine as a performance enhancing drug is still controversial. Some of the data are conflicting, which is in part due to how the experimental studies were designed and what methods were used. However, there is general agreement in a few areas:

  1. Caffeine does not appear to benefit short term, high intensity exercise (eg. sprinting)
  2. Caffeine can enhance performance in endurance sports.

Caffeine Recommendations for Athletes

If you choose to use caffeine, make sure that you have used caffeine extensively under a variety of training conditions and are thoroughly familiar with how your body reacts to this drug. 

Product / Caffeine
(in milligrams)

Coffee (6 oz. cup)
Drip 175
Percolated 132
Instant regular 64
Decaffeinated 3
Cola Drinks (12 oz)
Coca-Cola Classic 46
Coca-Cola, new 46
Coke Free 0
Pepsi 43
Pepsi Free 0-2
Dr. Pepper 38
Mountain Dew 52
Tab 50
Jolt 71
44 oz. cup of Coke/Pepsi 169/158
Tea (5 min. brew, 6 oz) 24-60
Cocoa and chocolate
Cocoa beverage (water mix, 6 oz) 18
Milk chocolate candy bar (8 oz) 48
Baking chocolate (1 oz) 35
White chocolate 0
Carob (chocolate substitute) 0
Nonprescription drugs
Caffedrine capsules (each) 100
NoDoz tablets (each) 100
Weight-control aids
Dexatrim (daily dose) 200
Dietac (daily dose) 200
Prolamine (daily dose) 2
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