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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Study Spotlight: Looking for A Boost at the End of Your Race?

We’ve mentioned before that caffeine can improve endurance performance typically because of its ability to “spare” muscle glycogen (our body’s fuel which is of a limited supply) and help us burn more fat for fuel which we have a near-endless supply of.  Therefore a lot of endurance athletes choose to drink coffee prior to races or similar caffeinated beverages to conserve energy.  Caffeine also acts a stimulant and has the ability to increase alertness while decreasing sensations of fatigue which can also help improve performance.   As a result, supplement manufacturers are looking for more viable ways to help endurance athletes get their caffeine in around or during race time. Hence: CAFFEINE GUM!  Researchers recently designed a study to determine whether or not caffeinated gum could impact endurance performance in cyclists.

Unfortunately a lot these drinks are not reasonable options during a race (Can you imagine sipping on a nice cup of coffee while cycling at 20 mph in the heat? I don’t think so).

What did they do?
Researchers had 20 cyclists complete a 30km time trial twice. A caffeine infused gum or placebo was administered in a double-blind fashion.  During the 30 km time trial, cyclists completed 0.2 km maximal effort sprints after each 10 km of the time trial.  The gum or placebo was ingested after the first sprint.  Measures of oxygen consumption, power output, heart rate, lactate and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded during the time trial.

What did they find?
No differences in performance or physiological variables were identified between the two conditions after the first 20 km of the time trial.  However, when the cyclists ingested the caffeine gum, they increased mean power by 3.8% and sprint power by 4% during the final 10 km.  These increases in power also resulted in elevated heart rate and blood lactate as the cyclists were working at a higher intensity.

Conclusions:
It appears as though caffeine gum may help with sprint performance during the final stages of a 30 km maximal effort ride. Those who are looking for a final “kick” during endurance races may want to give caffeine-gum a try!


Reference:

Paton, C., Costa, V., and Guglielmo, L. Effects of caffeine chewing gum on race performance and physiology in male and female cyclists. (2015)
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