Coffee improves cycling time trial performance

coffee for endurance | caffeine cycling

Caffeine is proven to improve exercise performance in several endurance sports, including running, cycling and triathlon.

Previously research has found coffee to be less effective than caffeine anhydrous at improving endurance exercise performance. Researchers believed this to be because of compounds found within coffee (called chlorogenic acids) which may impair its performance benefits. However, research comparing the effects of caffeine, coffee, decaffeinated coffee and a placebo on endurance cycling performance, in eight trained cyclists/triathletes, found coffee to be equally effective for improving cycling time trial performance as caffeine anhydrous (Hodgson et al., 2013).

About the coffee research

The researchers compared the effects of four drinks containing either:

  • Caffeine anhydrous
  • Coffee
  • Decaf coffee
  • Placebo.

Both the caffeine and coffee drinks provided 5mg of caffeine per kg of bodyweight. This is in line with previous research where the optimum endurance benefits occur when consuming 3-5mg of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight.

What the researchers found

Both caffeine anhydrous and coffee significantly improved cycling time trial performance (by ~5%), when compared with the decaffeinated coffee and placebo drinks.

The average time trial performance and average power are displayed below for the four treatments:


Cycling Time Trial Performance


Average power


Caffeine anhydrous

(5mg caffeine/kg bodyweight)


294±21 W


(5mg caffeine/kg bodyweight)


291±22 W

Decaffeinated Coffee


276±23 W




277±14 W

The researchers concluded that both caffeine and coffee, when consumed 1 hour prior to exercise, were equally effective at improving endurance exercise performance.

Key take away: a coffee drink provided equal performance benefits to a caffeine supplement.

Read more about the benefits of caffeine for endurance exercise

Coffee endurance exercise reference:

Hodgson AB, Randell RK, Jeukendrup AE. (2013) The metabolic and performance effects of caffeine compared to coffee during endurance exercise. PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e59561. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059561. Epub 2013 Apr 3.


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