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Drink Coffee and Swim Faster

Caffeine’s positive effect on endurance exercise is well-known, but when should you drink it and does it necessarily need to be hot?

No, of course not, unless it’s really cold outside, then it can be a good idea.

Often you will find caffeine-energy at aid stations during a race and for long races it’s a good thing to continuously keep to a healthy level of intake. Otherwise you risk a drop in attention and perceived energy. But, if you’re going to do a short or sprint race, research suggest you to ingest somewhere around 6 mg/kg body weight caffeine, 45-60 minutes before the start. This will allow for the body to absorb it and to help the body work harder. As an example, the study at hand found that caffeine supplementation resulted in a 3.7% reduction in swim time, with men reducing their time with up to 4.5% compared to women with 2.8%.

Be aware of the negative effects however, especially if you’re not used to drinking coffee, that too much caffeine can cause elevated heart rate, increase anxiety, the well-known effect on the digestive tract , irritability and insomnia.

/The WoS Team


“Caffeine Improves Triathlon Performance: A Field Study in Males and Females” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism

© 2018 Human Kinetics, Inc.

Sunita Potgieter, Hattie H. Wright, and Carine Smith


The ergogenic effect of caffeine on endurance exercise is commonly accepted. We aimed to elucidate realistically the effect of caffeine on triathlon event performance using a field study design, while allowing investigation into potential mechanisms at play. A double-blind, randomized, crossover, field trial was conducted. Twenty-six triathletes (14 males, 12 females) participated (age: 37.8±10.6 years, habitual caffeine intake: 413±505 mg/day, percentage body fat: 14.5±7.2%, training/week: 12.8±4.5 hours). Microencapsulated caffeine (6 mg/kg body weight) was supplemented 60 minutes pre-trial. Performance data included time to completion (TTC), rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and profile of mood states (POMS). Blood samples taken before, during and post-race were analyzed for cortisol, testosterone and full blood count. Capillary blood lactate concentrations were assessed pre-race, during transitions and 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 minutes after triathlons. Caffeine supplementation resulted in a 3.7% reduction in swim time (33.5±7.0 vs. 34.8±8.1 minutes, p<0.05) and a 1.3% reduction in TTC (149.6±19.8 vs. 151.5±18.6 minutes, p<0.05) for the whole group. Gender differences and individual responses are also presented. Caffeine did not alter RPE significantly, but better performance after caffeine supplementation suggests a central effect resulting in greater overall exercise intensity at the same RPE. Caffeine supplementation was associated with higher post-exercise cortisol levels (665±200 vs. 543±169 nmol/l, p<0.0001) and facilitated greater peak blood lactate accumulation (ANOVA main effect, p<0.05). We recommend that triathlon athletes with relatively low habitual caffeine intake may ingest 6 mg/kg body weight caffeine, 45-60 minutes before the start of Olympic-distance triathlon in order to improve performance.

Read the study here:

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