Caffeine intake in sports

Caffeine in sport: the ideal dose at the right time is important

It is no secret that caffeine can enhance performance in sports. Anyone who has ever drunk a strong coffee, a coke or an energy drink before a training session or competition can confirm the stimulating effect. Caffeine is a natural substance and one of the oldest stimulants in the world. In sport, as countless studies have shown, caffeine increases athletic endurance performance and improves concentration and attention in decisive phases of a competition. The Swiss Society for Sports Nutrition SSNS lists caffeine as a supplement with the highest effectiveness in category «A».

Sprint and endurance athletes regularly use caffeine, be it before the start gun goes off or during the race. In order to achieve the beneficial effect, it is important that caffeine is taken in a suitable way to the individual situation. The SSNS considers the following dosages to be appropriate for athletes:

• 3-6 mg per kg body weight 1 h before exercise
• 3-6 mg per kg in doses of 0.3 - 1.0 mg per kg body weight distributed over the entire duration of the competition (e.g. 50 mg for 75 kg persons = 0.7 mg/kg every 1-2 h)
• 1-2 mg per kg body weight at the latest 30 min before the end of the competition

These are significant amounts! For an athlete weighing 60 kg, this means a dosage of around 180-360 mg of caffeine before a competition! Because presumably no athlete wants to start a competition with half a litre of coke or three espressos in their stomach, the nutrition industry has brought so-called caffeine shots onto the market. They guarantee a precise dosage, are practical to use and come in different flavours so that even people who don't like coffee might benefit. The Swiss sports nutrition manufacturer SPONSER® has two caffeine shots in its range that are used by athletes at all performance levels. ACTIVATOR 200 contains 200 mg of caffeine per 25 ml of liquid and comes in the flavours «Cola-Lemon» and «Fruit Boost». The vegan shot uses caffeine from various sources: Guarana, Mate, green tea extract as well as free caffeine. Unlike other sources, the effect is not only fast acting, but also lasts up to four hours.

Recommended intake of ACTIVATOR 200

Sprint and interval performance
In sprint and interval sports, athletes benefit from increased concentration, attention, and adrenaline activity. It is advisable to take it early enough before the activity: about 30-60 min before start, in order to reach optimal effectiveness.

Competitions lasting 1-3 hours
In competitions lasting several hours, caffeine shows an increased endurance performance due to improved fatty acid oxidation for energy supply. Since the highest caffeine concentration in the blood occurs about 45-60 minutes after ingestion and levels off in the following 2-3 hours, it is important to plan the intake in an appropriate pattern. Like this, the maximum effect can be achieved directly from the start or, for example, in the second half of a competition or in its final phase.

Competitions between 12-24 hours
A promising application is to take an ACTIVATOR 200 with 200 mg of caffeine every 3 hours, depending on the athlete's body weight. If athletes already have experience with caffeine and tolerate it well, they can start taking it right from the start. Otherwise, it is advisable to wait a little longer and use the ampoules with greater intervals (5-6 hours) or even specifically about 30 minutes before performance-relevant phases such as at night or before expected drops in performance.

More days up to ultra-events
Just follow the same recommendations as for 12-24 hours. However, athletes must consider a notable time gap (approx. 4 h) between any caffeine intake and sleep.