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Consumption of dietary caffeine and coffee in physically active populations: physiological interactions

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Caffeine is a proven ergogenic aid, increasing athletic performance, endurance, and mental chronometry at doses as low as 1-3 mg·kg-1. As coffee is a readily available and commonly ingested form of caffeine, the two are often equated. However, coffee also contains hundreds of other biologically active compounds, many of which are metabolically distinct from caffeine. The purpose of this review was to examine the prevalence of coffee and (or) caffeine consumption among elite Canadian athletes, and to delineate the effects of coffee and caffeine on physical activity, weight maintenance, performance, and metabolism. A total of 270 self-reported 3-day food records were examined for caffeine intake from athletes registered with Canadian Sport Centres in 2005 and 2006. Athletes ranged in age from 16-45 years, and competed in 38 different sports. Results showed that 30% of athletes ingested >1 mg·kg-1·day-1 from a variety of sources. Average daily intake was 0.85 ± 13 mg·kg-1. Caffeine intake was not correlated with any 1 sport; the 10 highest caffeine users were athletes from 9 different sports, including skill, endurance, and power sports. No differences were noted for average caffeine ingestion between summer and winter sports. High caffeine intakes corresponded to coffee ingestion, with the 25 highest individual intakes (193-895 mg·day-1) from coffee drinkers. In summary, it can be concluded that the majority of high-level Canadian athletes consume dietary caffeine primarily in the form of coffee. However, levels consumed are insufficient to elicit performance enhancement. Potential detrimental effects of caffeine consumption on exercise performance include gastric upset, withdrawal, sleep disturbance, and interactions with other dietary supplements.

Il est avéré que la caféine est une substance ergogène qui, à des doses aussi faibles que 1 à 3 mg·kg-1, améliore la performance sportive, l’endurance et la chronométrie mentale. Le café étant une boisson aisément accessible et la façon courante d’ingérer de la caféine, on considère souvent le café et la caféine comme équivalents. Cependant, le café contient des centaines d’ingrédients biologiquement actifs qui ne possèdent pas la même activité métabolique que la caféine. Le but de cet article-synthèse est d’analyser la prévalence de l’apport de café et/ou caféine chez les athlètes d’élite du Canada et de distinguer les effets du café de ceux de la caféine sur l’activité physique, le maintien du poids, la performance et le métabolisme. À cette fin, on analyse l’apport de caféine durant 3 jours inscrits dans 270 carnets alimentaires d’athlètes enregistrés auprès des Centres canadiens multisport en 2005-2006. L’âge des athlètes en compétition dans 38 sports différents varie de 16 à 45 ans. D’après les observations, 30 % des athlètes consomment plus de 1 mg·kg-1·jour-1 de caféine de sources diverses. L’apport quotidien moyen est de 0,85 ± 13 mg·kg-1. L’apport de caféine n’est pas associé à un sport; les plus grands consommateurs de caféine pratiquent 9 sports différents incluant les sports d’adresse, d’endurance et de puissance. On n’observe pas de différences de consommation de caféine chez les athlètes des sports d’été comparativement aux athlètes des sports d’hiver. Ceux qui consomment plus de caféine sont ceux qui boivent le plus de café; les consommations des 25 plus grands buveurs de café varient de 193 à 895 mg·jour-1. En guise de conclusion, l’apport alimentaire de caféine de la majorité des athlètes canadiens de haut niveau provient principalement du café. La quantité consommée ne contribue pas globalement à l’amélioration de la performance. Parmi les effets nuisibles probables de la consommation de caféine sur la performance physique, on note des dérangements gastriques, des retraits, des troubles du sommeil et des interactions avec d’autres suppléments alimentaires.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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  • This bimonthly journal has a 30-year history of publishing, first as the Canadian Journal of Sport Sciences, and later as the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology. It publishes original research articles, reviews, and commentaries, focussing on the application of physiology, nutrition, and metabolism to the study of human health, physical activity, and fitness. The published research, reviews, and symposia will be of interest to exercise physiologists, physical fitness and exercise rehabilitation specialists, public health and health care professionals, as well as basic and applied physiologists, nutritionists, and biochemists.
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