Caffeine Helps Athletes?

Being an athlete my whole life growing up, I was always looking for ways to legally enhance my performance. Before each game, I would eat a protein bar because in my head, that protein bar was exactly what I needed to be energized enough to play. There was no evidence behind that thought of mine, just an anecdote based on my personal experience. Other people would tell me to eat something different or drink something different, but I always stuck to my protein bar. One day, my friend’s Mom told me to drink coffee before every game because the caffeine in the coffee would energize me.

I didn’t believe this statement, but I am curious whether she was correct or not. My hypothesis in this experiment would be that caffeine has no impact on athletic performance. In this case, my hypothesis would be the null hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis would be that coffee enhances athletic performance.

The results of studies on this topic are very mixed. Many experts in the field advise athletes to stay away from caffeine completely, but many others say that caffeine in small doses will provide benefits to athletic performance. This study is one that believes caffeine provides athletic benefits, but even this study admits more specialized studies need to be executed. Right now, there is not enough evidence on either side to make a definitive decision on whether or not caffeine will enhance athletic performance. This particular article shows the mixed results of the studies so far and explains why there must be more studies done.

More studies must be done in order to come to a correct conclusion. There needs to be an experiment done that only tests one variable and holds all else constant to truly know the effects of caffeine. I think the experiment should be a double blind placebo trial and should be set up like this: gather a sample size of at least 500 randomly selected athletes from all sports and test their athletic capabilities by having them perform drills. You can do this by testing each athlete with caffeine and without caffeine in his or her diet. To do this, you test each athlete twice. Before one test, give the athlete a caffeine pill. Before the second test, give the athlete a fake pill. Neither the scientist nor the athlete can know whether he or she was given a real or fake pill. You then have the athlete perform many different drills and record his or her results. By comparing these results, you can tell if the caffeine really helped their performance in the drills.

In conclusion, the results of this hypothesis could still go either way. I tend to lean toward caffeine having no benefit to athletic performance, but until more definitive results come out, no one will know the true answer.

Image result for caffeine athletic performance

5 thoughts on “Caffeine Helps Athletes?

  1. Dylan Huberman

    Like you, I would like to see the double blind placebo trial you described towards the end of your post. Personally, I wouldn’t mix caffeine into working out because my muscles are very tight and caffeine only tightens them up more. I even get headaches from it sometimes. Take a look at the link below; it’s something you might want to try as it might get you closer to answering your question.

  2. Justin Passaro

    Brett, if you are participating in exercise that requires a lot of cardio, caffeine may not be the best idea. Sure, it will probably give you a quick short burst of energy, but I don’t see the effects last too long. I also think that it could be potentially harmful to consume caffein right before you workout. Caffein could play with your heart rate and may lead to some damaging effects. Although, it may aid in the burning of fat process since caffein does help raise your metabolism. Here is an article that puts more focus into the time of your workout and how caffein may come into effect.

  3. Rebecca Jordan Polaha

    I feel as though caffeine and working out is not the best idea. Even in small dosages I feel as though it is just unhealthy for your body when you’re going through so much work. I like that you compared these two, however, because I never would have thought to research it. One issue that may arise in the experiment that you were talking about is confounding variables. People may just be better athletes naturally, which can cause many problems in data.

  4. Sarah Elizabeth Read

    Your post really caught my attention! One of my coaches in high school basically told my team that we’d need to go caffeine free for the entirety of the spring semester/crew season if we wanted to perform well. This made sense to me at the time, but looking back, I wonder what my coach’s reason behind it was. For me personally, it’s really obvious to be when I have caffeine in my system. I’m either extremely focused or not at all and I feel very much on edge. Because of this, I try to minimize the amount of caffeine I drink on a weekly basis. I know not everybody is like this with caffeine, but I’d be very curious to know if caffeine consumption directly correlates with performance on an academic level. Here’s a study I found on the implications of caffeine consumption among high school students:

  5. Anthony Mitchell

    Based off the headline and the first couple sentences, I think you and I were on the same page with this one Brett. I didn’t think that athletes and caffeine should mix, let alone helps us to be a little bit better. I like the juxtaposition of the two arguments and how we can read and decipher for ourselves. I will still be on the opposing side saying that athletes should probably stay away from it because there isn’t a clear scientific way to see if having it is better than not. I will, however, submit this article for consideration about athletes being allowed to eat junk foods/food that is “bad” for them:

    Let me know what you think!

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