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The Performance-Enchancing Power Of Caffeine

  • By Matt Fitzgerald
  • Published Aug. 18, 2011
  • Updated Mar. 27, 2012 at 1:16 PM UTC

Caffeine During Exercise

A recent study, conducted at the University of Birmingham in England, looked at a completely different benefit of caffeine. It studied the effect the stimulant had during exercise on exogenous carbohydrate oxidation—which is the rate at which consumed carbs are burned.

Cyclists received either a 6-percent glucose solution, a 6-percent glucose solution plus caffeine, or plain water during a two-hour indoor cycling test. The researchers found that the rate at which the consumed carbohydrates were burned was 26 percent higher in the cyclists receiving carbs with caffeine than in those receiving carbs without caffeine. The study’s authors concluded that caffeine may have increased the rate of glucose absorption in the intestine, providing fuel to the working muscles more quickly. The likely effect on performance is the ability to work harder for a longer period of time without becoming fatigued.

Based on these results, athletes might want to consider consuming caffeine along with a sports drink during races or long training sessions instead of dosing up beforehand, since taking in caffeine both before and during a race or workout would be excessive and could lead to nervousness, anxiety, and stomach upset.

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