Caffeine and Sports: A Good or Bad Combination?


If you’re trying to be better at sports, should you drink coffee every day? Let’s look at what research says about coffee and athletes.

Benefits of Coffee for Athletes

Ergogenic Effect

Research suggests that the effects of drinking coffee on sports performance are more connected to the caffeine found in coffee, rather than the coffee drink itself. The caffeine might have an ergogenic effect, and it could enhance physical performance by decreasing the symptoms of fatigue. Studies found that caffeine may modulate central fatigue, which is a kind of fatigue caused by neurochemical changes in the brain linked with prolonged exercise.


Some of us might already know this. According to studies, both for aerobic and anaerobic exercise, caffeine can amplify its effect through the adenosine receptors in one’s brain, which could increase adrenaline production. And when there’s more adrenaline, you’ll have more energy and better blood circulation to your heart and muscles.

Blood Circulation


Speaking of blood flow, a study in Japan discovered that caffeine found in a cup of coffee might also help small blood vessels to work in unity with one another, easing the strain on the heart. This is beneficial for athletes because they are exposed to the possibility of getting exhausted quickly.

Research suggests that a single cup of coffee can cause a 30% increase in blood flow via the small vessels of the drinkers’ fingertips than a cup of decaffeinated coffee.

Muscle Soreness

As mentioned earlier, caffeine consumption may also alleviate the muscle pain brought by working out. It can do so by speeding up the healing and recovery process.



Studies have revealed that caffeine can also improve endurance in aerobic sports (cycling, rowing, and running), lasting longer than five minutes.

Several experiments found that caffeine can better time-trial performance in an endurance workout. It’s also responsible for the decrease of muscle pain. Drinking coffee, therefore, may also moderate expected exertion pain and levels of fatigue. And of course, if you exert less effort or aren’t fatigued, then you’ll be able to perform better on the sport you are involved in.

Research even says caffeine can be a helping hand during short-term, high-intensity anaerobic exercise. That would mean it can help athletes involved in high-intensity workouts and team sports! Impressive, isn’t? No wonder the best drip coffee makers of 2018 are becoming more and more popular among athletes!

The Myth

coffee_coffee_beans_beans_roasted_cafe_brown_aroma_drinkA 2014 study just debunked a misconception about caffeine contributing to dehydration. Previous works have claimed that drinking coffee can cause dehydration because caffeine is a mild diuretic. But recent studies have proved otherwise. In fact, coffee can even serve as a post-workout drink to help athletes recover their strength and help them replenish the fluid they lost while performing.

Not Everyone Is the Same

However, even with all these benefits of caffeine in sports performance, you should still bear in mind that individuals vary significantly and the results of drinking coffee may also differ. After all, not everyone has the same diet, metabolism, health background, and frequency of caffeine consumption. Several factors could affect how an individual will react to caffeine. Some athletes didn’t find coffee helpful in their performance, and the side effects of caffeine are usually the reason behind it. So, if you’re an athlete and you tried drinking coffee regularly only to end up with abdominal cramps and diarrhea, then perhaps coffee and sports is a bad combination for you.