We hear lots of contradictory things about the effect of caffeine on athletes. Many of you may be wondering whether you can drink coffee while doing a regular physical activity.


The answer is yes, but in moderation! Different studies contradict one another on this issue but they all tend to show that coffee can have positive effects on sport in small doses, though when consumed in large quantities it can be very harmful!


Coffee: an advantage for sport performance

Everyone knows that coffee tends to stimulate our bodies, particularly our nervous system and brain functions. It excites us, keeps us awake and accelerates the heart rate. This characteristic of caffeine suggests that it may improve our physical performances.In addition, certain studies have shown that it reduces the feeling of tiredness, stimulates the heart and breathing, and allows better use of fats.


Indeed, lots of athletes use caffeine to slim down as it is thought that 200 to 300 mg of caffeine (1 or 2 cups of coffee) before an endurance session will cause the body to burn more fat and less glycogen (carbohydrate reserves stored in the muscles). As a result, drinking coffee allows you to burn off fat more quickly during exercise.


However, the positive effects of consuming caffeine depend on the sport being done and its intensity. Caffeine has a positive effect during moderate exercise on an empty stomach, at around 70% of your maximum heart rate, although in this case caffeine can also cause problems with digestion. Similarly, at altitude (2900 m), it has a positive effect on the ability to adapt to hypoxia, that is, a reduction in the amount of oxygen distributed by the blood to the tissues.


Coffee: yes, but in small doses

Although some studies indicate that drinking a moderate amount of coffee can improve our sports performances, you should not drink it excessively. In fact, more than 3 cups of coffee a day, combined with sport, can lead to heartburn, diarrhoea and painful cramps in the gall bladder. It also causes anxiety, insomnia and heart palpitations. This is why it is not recommended for people suffering from heart disease.


Furthermore, excessive coffee consumption weakens the nervous system, reduces immune defences and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and anaemia. A real worry for athletes!


And here's the catch: a recent study shows that coffee tends to reduce blood flow to the heart (by 22%!), and therefore causes a lack of oxygen in the body. This could prevent the heart from adapting to the exercise being done and could be dangerous for the athlete, whose muscles need plenty of oxygen as they exercise. This study contradicts the 1st which suggested that coffee improved athletes' performances, but for now there is no reason for us to choose one over the other…