Caffeine in endurance sports – Part 2

This #ScienceFriday is all about whether pure caffeine has a higher effect on performance compared to regular coffee, the best timing for caffeine consumption to improve performance during competition and which micronutrients may not be absorbed by coffee. As always, if you have any questions, get in touch, and we will answer them!

Pure caffeine:

  • Higher dosage of caffeine
  • Higher proportion of free fatty acids in the blood (7)
  • In combination with taurine → Possibly enhances the effect of caffeine


  • The accompanying substances of coffee impair the effect of caffeine (5)
  • Dependable on the type of bean
  • At least 3 mg/kg (2 cups of coffee approx. 200 mg caffeine) → ergogenic effect 
  • No difference between caffeine and coffee (6)

Timing of caffeine supplementation before exercise:

  • 30 minutes before exercise (3)
  • Need for further research (4)

Caffeine has a positive effect on (4):

  • Muscle endurance 
  • Muscle strength
  • Anaerobic power 
  • Aerobic endurance

Does coffee hinder vitamin absorption?

  • Not documented 
  • Increased excretion (diuresis) of water, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium
  • Prevents the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium from food (1, 2)
  • Take coffee 30 minutes later than food 

Various foods and habits can accelerate the breakdown of caffeine:

  • Cruciferous plants
  • Grilled meat 
  • Smoking (8)
  • Grapefruit


  1. Prof. OttensDepart, S. (2014): Ökotrophologie, HAW Hamburg:
  2. Schmidt Dr. med. E, Schmidt Nathalie: Leitfaden Mikronährstoffe. Kapitel 2.2, 182-190 (13.1.), 2.4, 266-272 (13.2.), 2.2, 142-154 (13.3.), 2.4, 238-254 (13.4.), Urban & Fischer Verlag; München, Februar 2004
  3. Talanian JL, Spriet LL. Low and moderate doses of caffeine late in exercise improve performance in trained cyclists. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2016;41:850–5.
  4. Grgic, J., Grgic, I., Pickering, C., Schoenfeld, B. J., Bishop, D. J., & Pedisic, Z. (2020). Wake up and smell the coffee: caffeine supplementation and exercise performance—an umbrella review of 21 published meta-analyses. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 54(11), 681-688
  5. Graham TE, Hibbert E, Sathasivam P (1998) Metabolic and exercise endurance effects of coffee and caffeine ingestion. J Appl Physiol 85: 883–889.
  6. Hodgson, A. B., Randell, R. K., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2013). The metabolic and performance effects of caffeine compared to coffee during endurance exercise. PloS one, 8(4), e59561
  7. Graham, T. E. (2001). Caffeine, coffee and ephedrine: impact on exercise performance and metabolism. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26(S1), S186-S191.
  8. Arnaud, M J. (1993). Metabolism of caffeine and other components of coffee. In: Garantin, S. Caffeine, coffee and health. New York: Raven Press; 43-96.

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