Drinking coffee could be as good at improving endurance in athletes as taking caffeine pills, a new study has claimed.
Simon Higgins, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia in US reviewed more than 600 articles and screened them for those that focused only on caffeinated-coffee conditions, measured the caffeine dose and measured an endurance performance.
Of those, nine randomised control trials specifically used coffee to improve endurance.
“Previous research has focused on caffeine itself as an aid to improve endurance. Coffee is a popular source of caffeine, so this paper looked at the research surrounding its ergogenic benefits,” Higgins said.
Looking at the nine trials, Higgins found that between 3 and 7mg per kilogramme of body weight of caffeine from coffee increased endurance performance by an average of 24 per cent.
The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can vary from 75 mg to more than 150, depending on the variety and how it is roasted and brewed.
“There’s the potential that getting your caffeine by drinking coffee has similar endurance benefits as taking caffeine pills,” Higgins said.
In the nine trials, participants either cycled or ran after drinking coffee. They then exercised vigorously and the results were measured. In a majority of cases, endurance was noticeably improved after the use of coffee.
When researching the effects of caffeine from coffee, Higgins found that caffeine from coffee has ergogenic benefits – it enhances physical performance.
“While there is a lack of high-quality research on coffee as a source of caffeine, there is an abundance of research on pure caffeine,” Higgins said.
“It’s surprising how little we know about caffeine from coffee when its endurance effects could be just as beneficial as pure caffeine,” he said.
He found that coffee appears to be just as helpful as taking caffeine in the form of powder or tablets.
“There’s a perception that coffee won’t give you the same benefits as pure caffeine. New research could mean that athletes could have a cup of coffee versus taking a pill,” Higgins said.
The study was published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.