UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Airway Management

Title: Caffeine and Exercise

Keywords: Caffeine, Exercise, VO2 max (PubMed Search)

Posted: 12/25/2021 by Brian Corwell, MD
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Caffeine is probably the most wildly used and studied drug/supplement in the world.

It has been shown to enhance exercise capacity and performance.

Mechanism of action is likely multifactorial and involves adenosine receptor antagonism via direct CNS action improving mental alertness, reaction time and reducing the perceived exertion rate (pain).

To no surprise, amateur and elite athletes use caffeine to improve performance.

The well-accepted dosage of caffeine to improve performance is between 3 and 6 mg/kg, approximately 60 min before exercise. This dosage promotes (between 1 and 8%) performance gains in aerobic exercises and exercises with high glycolytic demand from cyclists to tennis players to weightlifters.

Consider the lower end of this range if interested in trying this on your own.

In an evaluation of 20,686 urine samples of elite athletes, almost 75% of the samples contained caffeine in concentrations higher than 0.1 μg/mL

Caffeine also increases maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max)

23 elite athletes were tested twice with and twice without caffeine.

Randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study.

Caffeine 4.5 mg/kg taken 45 minutes before exercise

Measures: Time to exhaustion and VO2 max.

Caffeine increased time to exhaustion and VO2 max, thereby increasing overall performance.

If you are going to incorporate using caffeine before your next workout, I suggest espresso shots for extra caffeine without the volume of a large cup of coffee. Beware of known side effects such as jitters, anxiousness and difficulties with sleep if taken later in the day. Also consider stomach upset digestive issues, and increased heart rate.

Happy Holidays!!!!





  1. Martins GL, Guilherme JPLF, Ferreira LHB, de Souza-Junior TP, Lancha AH Jr. Caffeine and Exercise Performance: Possible Directions for Definitive Findings. Front Sports Act Living. 2020 Dec 11;2:574854.
  2. Stadheim HK, Stensrud T, Brage S, Jensen J. Caffeine Increases Exercise Performance, Maximal Oxygen Uptake, and Oxygen Deficit in Elite Male Endurance Athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021 Nov 1;53(11):2264-2273.