Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) 44 Suppl 2() S175-84 doi 10.1007/s40279-014-0257-8

Abstract

Caffeine is a popular work-enhancing supplement that has been actively researched since the 1970s. The majority of research has examined the effects of moderate to high caffeine doses (5-13 mg/kg body mass) on exercise and sport. These caffeine doses have profound effects on the responses to exercise at the whole-body level and are associated with variable results and some undesirable side effects. Low doses of caffeine (<3 mg/kg body mass, ~200 mg) are also ergogenic in some exercise and sport situations, although this has been less well studied. Lower caffeine doses (1) do not alter the peripheral whole-body responses to exercise; (2) improve vigilance, alertness, and mood and cognitive processes during and after exercise; and (3) are associated with few, if any, side effects. Therefore, the ergogenic effect of low caffeine doses appears to result from alterations in the central nervous system. However, several aspects of consuming low doses of caffeine remain unresolved and suffer from a paucity of research, including the potential effects on high-intensity sprint and burst activities. The responses to low doses of caffeine are also variable and athletes need to determine whether the ingestion of ~200 mg of caffeine before and/or during training and competitions is ergogenic on an individual basis.