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Caffeine Boosts Performance in Athletes Who Use It Rarely

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Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, allowing athletes of all stripes to complete longer, harder workouts. But new research suggests that people who usually avoid coffee and energy drinks likely benefit the most from caffeine.

Researchers writing in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism said they gave caffeinated chewing gum to male athletes to gauge its effect on their performance in repeated sprints. Results showed that those who frequently consumed high amounts of caffeine (roughly 3 or more cups daily) did not experience performance benefits from the caffeinated gum. Those who rarely drank caffeinated drinks like black tea and coffee performed much better.

With habituation, which results from frequent consumption, our bodies can become desensitized to the perky benefits of caffeine. So, if you have a big sporting event on the horizon and want to benefit from a caffeine jolt, consuming less caffeine in the lead-up might be a good idea.

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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November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

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