Does Caffeine Aid Recovery?

Updated: Mar 29, 2019

Our previous blog posts have examined how caffeine can improve endurance and reduce the perception of pain for 90% of athletes, but what is seldom explored is the impact of caffeine on our recovery from exercise.

It seems counter-intuitive that a drug which hypes us up may in fact help, as we normally associate rest and relaxation with recovery, but caffeine has been shown to dramatically accelerate the restoration of glycogen in our muscles, which helps us train harder next time.

A study by the American Physiological Society [1] found cyclists who had consumed a drink of caffeine and carbs following cycling to exhaustion had 66% more glycogen in their muscles after 4 hours than when they had drunk only carbohydrates. (The drinks looked, smelled and tasted the same and both contained the same amount of carbohydrate.)

Caffeine is known to release fat into the bloodstream, preserving glycogen stores during exercise, but in the study the drink was consumed after exercise had finished. It's not understood fully why glycogen levels rebounded so quickly, but higher levels of blood glucose, insulin and several signaling proteins believed to play a role in glucose transport into the muscle were elevated in the bloodstream after the athletes had drunk the carb-caffeine mix.

Unfortunately the caffeine dose for the trial was extremely large - 8mg per kilo of body weight, which equates to 5-7 Caffeine Bullets for the average person. Well over the recommended daily caffeine allowance and it would also dramatically increase your chances of a restless night, so it's not all good news. Further tests are required to establish exactly how much caffeine you need to benefit from accelerated recovery, but hopefully if you are already taking your optimal dose of caffeine when you race, this will aid your recovery. However if you struggle with back to back training or are taking part in a multi-day event, it might be worth experimenting with your caffeine intake post training sessions to see if you improve your recovery. As the faster we recover, the harder we can train and help us to set even more Personal Bests!

About Caffeine Bullet

Caffeine Bullet is a mint chew with 100mg caffeine and 4 types of electrolytes, formulated for athletic performance, to be taken before and during exercise to improve endurance, increase alertness and reduce the perception of pain. Far more convenient and concentrated than a gel, the caffeine is absorbed through your gums, to give you a more pronounced effect up to 4 times faster so that you can train harder and perform better.