Should YOU use Caffeine in Sport?

Updated: Mar 29, 2019

One person can guzzle double-espressos at midnight and sleep like a baby, while another merely hears a speech by Kofi Annan and is still wide awake at 3 am! We all metabolise caffeine differently and how fast our body breaks it down determines whether we should be utilising it in sport and in life in general.

The Benefits of Caffeine in Sport

Caffeine is the only legal performance enhancing drug in sport:

  • Caffeine reduces the perception of pain and fatigue, so we can train and race harder for longer

  • Caffeine releases fat into the bloodstream, reducing glycogen depletion

  • Caffeine increases alertness, ensuring clear decision making

However the beneficial effects of caffeine only potentially helps 90% of us. 10% of athletes actually slow down when they use caffeine and it’s all been predetermined by our genetics.

Drinking a coffee while cycling
The Benefit of Caffeine in Sport

How Fast we Metabolise Caffeine is Determined by our Genes!

A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that variations in the CYP1A2 gene determined whether caffeine benefited endurance performance. Those with the AA variation (fast metabolisers) cycled 6.8% faster during a 10k time trial, while those with the CC variant (slow metabolisers) cycled 13.7% slower.

Pie Chart of How Quickly we Metabolise Caffeine

The Effects of Caffeine on Different Metabolisms

Fast metabolisers process caffeine quickly into, but also out of their system

  • A large dose affects you intensely as it hits your system.

  • If you want to sustain the effects all day it is better to have a steady consumption of a moderate level than to have one big dose.

  • You are likely to be able to consume more caffeine than most athletes.

  • Drinking caffeine in the evening will not affect your sleep significantly.

Slow metabolisers maintain caffeine in their system for longer, but in lower levels:

  • You will not receive a caffeine ‘hit’ or the associated benefits.

  • Caffeine stays in your system for a long time potentially disrupting sleep.

How to Test Your Caffeine Metabolism

It is possible to have your DNA tested to find out which variation of the CYP1A2 gene you have, but it is likely that you already instinctively know. If you don’t, drink a double espresso at 7 pm and wait to see whether you’re tearing up the dance-floor at 7:15 and ready for bed by 12 (fast metaboliser) or whether not much happens other than a sleepless night.

So Should YOU Use Caffeine in Sport?

Take your own test! If you metabolise caffeine slowly then definitely not, but for 90% of us, caffeine will aid our performance and for 50% of us it can make us up to 7% faster!

Here's David to explain:

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.