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Caffeine’s Power to Up Your Game Is in Your Genes

Your DNA decides whether you get the performance kick.

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It has flummoxed sports nutrition researchers for years: Why do some athletes get turbo-charged with caffeine while others do not see the same performance boost after a latte? Researchers from the University of Toronto appear to have unlocked the mystery, at least in relation to men. An investigation published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that male athletes with a specific variation in the CYP1A2 gene, which impacts caffeine metabolism, benefited from caffeine ingestion before a cycling time trial. Their counterparts with different CYP1A2 genotypes experienced either no boost or a downgrade in performance.

Now that we have this evidence, testing for an athlete’s CYP1A2 genotype might become de rigueur among sporting teams.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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