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Cut down on coffee to boost performance

Caffeine’s performance enhancing benefits are more evident if you are not a regular consumer.

According to the team of researchers behind the latest study, athletes with high habitual caffeine consumption could hamper its performance-enhancing benefits when they need them most.

As a central nervous system stimulator caffeine is known to reduce fatigue, improve endurance and boost muscular strength. As such, it is no surprise that caffeine is a popular performance enhancer.

Researcher Dr. Brendan Egan, of the School of Health and Human Performance at Dublin City University in Ireland, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism after testing the impact of caffeine on members of a sports team. A total of 18 men were required to participate in a series of 40-meter sprints. Before each sprint, they were asked to chew some gum. Some of the participants in the study received caffeinated gum, which contained levels of caffeine that were equivalent to what is found in two cups of strong coffee, while others received non-caffeinated gum.

Egan and colleagues also looked at whether the daily caffeine consumption impacted the outcomes of the sprinters during the experiment.

They found in the athletes who consumed caffeine on a regular basis, the caffeinated gum had little impact on their sprinting performance. In fact, the men who consumed the equivalent of around three or more cups of coffee every day saw their athletic performance decline with repeated sprint tests, even after chewing the caffeinated gum.

In contrast, those who had a low habitual caffeine intake maintained their performance during the sprint tests after chewing the caffeinated gum.

The latest findings suggest that regular coffee consumption could hamper the performance-enhancing benefits. Egan and colleagues recommend that athletes who drink coffee regularly should cut down in the lead-up to a sports performance. If not, they may be unlikely to reap the rewards of a caffeine supplement.

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