We as runners are a technical, particular bunch. As picky about our coffee as we are about our shoes and eyewear. Very few runs are started without – at the very least – a single shot of freshly brewed espresso. Few are finished without a café stop.
Hard to believe then that caffeine (otherwise known as: 3G6A5W338E) was on the Olympic banned substance list less than 30 years ago. A recent study suggests up to three quarters of the world’s elite athletes use it for its benefits. Many go as far as to travel with their own coffee machines. However, to assume its ergogenic properties (enhances speed and stamina) is the sole reason for the love affair, would be to misunderstand the relationship.
There is some solid scientific evidence that caffeine can improve endurance performance by reducing fatigue and your perception of effort. In essence, ‘it makes exercise feel easier to do,’ and, it may also have a small benefit on how your body uses fat as a fuel during exercise.
Here are a few more stats you might not be aware of:
- Caffeine can improve endurance performance by 3-4% and work rate by 7-10% at moderate doses.
- Most research uses 300-400 mg to show performance benefits.
- There are no benefits at higher doses and some people may experience unwanted side-effects.
- Caffeine does not negatively effect hydration status.
- In combination with a high carbohydrate recovery meal caffeine may assist restoring muscle glycogen (carbohydrate stores).
- Caffeine content of brewed coffee can vary from 15-240 mg per serving.
- Robusta beans have the highest caffeine content.
- The darker the roast the lower the caffeine content.
- The fresher the grind the higher the caffeine content.
- And the longer the brew the higher the caffeine content of the drink i.e. Immersion brews like a plunger (4-5min contact time) will have more caffeine than an espresso (Under 30 seconds contact time)