Athletes who drink a lot of coffee can improve their performance by as much as six percent, British scientists were due to announce Wednesday.
A new study found high doses of caffeine boosted muscle power and endurance when the body was not being pushed to the limit, such as in long-distance running.
“A very high dosage of caffeine, most likely achieved via tablets, powder or a concentrated liquid, is feasible and might prove attractive to a number of athletes wishing to improve their athletic performance,” said Dr. Rob James, lead researcher at Coventry University, in central England.
“A small increase in performance via caffeine could mean the difference between a gold medal in the Olympics and an also-ran”, added James, who was due to announce the results at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Meeting in Prague.
Caffeine was removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned substance list in 2004 but Coventry University scientists believed their findings may have implications for the use of caffeine in sport.
Even without taking concentrated doses, people who drink large amounts of coffee or tea could benefit from an enhanced power output.
"Seventy micro-Mols per liter caffeine concentration is the absolute maximum that can normally achieved in the blood plasma of a human, however concentrations of 20-50 micro-Mols per liter are not unusual in people with high caffeine intakes," said James.
Caffeine in the bloodstream could act as receptors on skeletal muscle, making the body temporarily more powerful, the scientists said.