St Mary’s research finds caffeine has positive effect on athletic performance

An academic at St Mary’s University, Twickenham has published his latest research exploring the effects of caffeine on sports performance, finding that it can have a beneficial effect on endurance performance.

Dr Mark Glaister, Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Programme Director for St Mary’s MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Physiology, has published his research ‘Effects of dietary nitrate, caffeine and their combination on 20km cycling time-trial performance’.

This latest research involved 14 competitive female cyclists who were completing four 20km time-trials on racing bikes fitted to a turbo-trainer. Before each race, the cyclists were given either a concentrated dose of caffeine, dietary nitrate (beetroot juice), or one of two placebos; maltodextrin or beetroot juice without dietary nitrate to measure its effect.

The results showed that caffeine supplementation, equivalent to around 4 cups of coffee, has a beneficial effect on endurance performance, whilst dietary nitrate (in the form of a concentrated sport-specific supplement) has little or no effect. The caffeine induced improvements in power output corresponded with significantly higher measures of heart rate, blood lactate, and respiratory exchange ratio.

About the research Mark said, “Of all the legal supplements an athlete could take, caffeine arguably has the biggest effect on performance. Athletes should be aware that consuming more than the recommended amount of caffeine reduces the benefits on performance. Moreover, very high doses can bring about side effects and can be dangerous.”