Caffeine Supplementation Strategies Among Endurance Athletes
Keywords:Endurance Performance, Running, Cycling, Triathlon, Caffeine, Sports Nutrition
Caffeine is widely accepted as an endurance-performance enhancing supplement. Most scientific research studies use doses of 3-6 mg/kg of caffeine 60 min prior to exercise based on pharmacokinetics. It is not well understood whether endurance athletes employ similar supplementation strategies in practice. The purpose of this study was to investigate caffeine supplementation protocols among endurance athletes. A survey conducted on Qualtrics returned responses regarding caffeine supplementation from 254 endurance athletes (f = 134, m =120; age = 39.4 ± 13.9 y; professional = 11, current collegiate athlete = 37, recreational = 206; running = 98, triathlon = 83, cycling = 54, other = 19; training days per week = 5.4 ± 1.3). Most participants reported habitual caffeine consumption (85.0%; 41.2% multiple times daily). However, only 24.0% used caffeine supplements. A greater proportion of men (31.7%) used caffeine supplements compared with women (17.2%; p = .007). Caffeine use was also more prevalent among professional (45.5%) and recreational athletes (25.1%) than in collegiate athletes (9.4%). Type of sport (p = 0.641), household income (p = 0.263), education (p = 0.570) or working with a coach (p = 0.612) did not have an impact on caffeine supplementation prevalence. Of those reporting specific timing of caffeine supplementation, 49.1% and 34.9% reported consuming caffeine within 30 min of training and races respectively; 38.6% and 36.5% used caffeine 30-60 min before training and races. Recreational athletes reported consuming smaller amounts of caffeine before training (1.6 ± 1.0 mg/kg) and races (2.0 ± 1.2 mg/kg) compared with collegiate (TRG: 2.1 ± 1.2 mg/kg; RACE: 3.6 ± 0.2 mg/kg) and professional (TRG: 2.4 ± 1.1 mg/kg; RACE: 3.5 ± 0.6 mg/kg) athletes. Overall, participants reported minor to moderate perceived effectiveness of caffeine supplementation (2.31 ± 0.9 on a four-point Likert-type scale) with greatest effectiveness during longer sessions (2.8 ± 1.1). It appears that recreational athletes use lower caffeine amounts than what has been established as ergogenic in laboratory protocols; further, they consume caffeine closer to exercise compared with typical research protocols. Thus, better education of recreational athletes and additional research into alternative supplementation strategies are warranted.
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