Caffeine may considerably improve the performance of endurance athletes competing in hot conditions according to a new Australian study.
The findings are in contrast to previous research which suggested caffeine may impair an athlete’s performance in the heat.
The study, published by Sports Medicine Australia in The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, found that a moderate dose of caffeine (3mg/kg of body weight) resulted in cyclists completing a time trial in 35 degree heat on average 4 and half minutes faster than a time trial without caffeine.
Lead author Dr Cecilia Shing of the School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania, said that while the ergogenic effect of caffeine in standard conditions was widely documented, the benefits of consuming caffeine before exercising in the heat have been less convincing.
“Caffeine has the potential to increase core temperature, heart rate and sweat rate which would add to the stress of exercising in a hot environment,” Dr Shing said.
“Earlier research found caffeine may actually impair performance in the heat, however this could be due to athletes being given too high a dose.
“Our study found that a moderate dose of caffeine was around 85 per cent likely to improve the performance of cyclists in a hot environment.
“Cyclists who had received a dose of caffeine were completing a time trial on average in approximately 55 minutes, compared to the 60 minutes it took them without the aid of caffeine.
“Our findings highlight the potential of caffeine as a performance enhancing aid for non-heat adapted endurance athletes competing in extreme heat conditions.
“Even on a typical hot Australian summer day that quick shot of caffeine before your 10km run may get you across the line just a little bit faster!”
The study, ‘Effect of caffeine on cycling time-trial performance in the heat’ was published in The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (Volume 17, Issue 4).