BIG Nutrition: No Coffee for Olympians


BIG Nutrition: No Coffee for Olympians

The amount of dedication and training that goes into competing at the Olympics is daunting. But doing it without coffee, is downright cruecaffeine-coffee-medium-300x200l! Preferring to feature its own product, one of the major sponsors, Coca Cola, feels that soda will fill the gap. However, those used to coffee may not find cola equivalent, and the lack of caffeine could negatively impact an athlete’s performance.

Caffeine is a legally permissible ergogenic aid by the International Olympic Committee and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Ergogenic aids are “substances, devices, or practices that enhances an individual’s energy use, production, or recovery.” (Wikipedia) Studies show that caffeine:

  • Reduces the perception of fatigue and
  • Permits more intense exercise for a longer period of time.

Is caffeine an aid that adult athletes could use? Yes, and the dose that is optimal is 3-6 mg/kg body weight (215 mg-430 mg caffeine for someone who weighs 73 kg or 160 lbs) taken one (1) hour before exercise. Caffeine intake beyond 9 mg/kg is detrimental to performance and produces unwanted side effects (e.g., heart palpitations, anxiety, and gastrointestinal distress). Further, use in children and adolescents athletes is not recommended and has not been studied adequately for safety.

Coffee, tea, or SFH Fuel, for example, may be just the thing to help you get through a surprise WOD this week! Just watch out for:

  • ‘Energy’ beverages with larger amounts of caffeine than is recommended.
  • ‘Supplements’ that are described as giving you ‘energy’ as these may not disclose that they contain caffeine.

Happy and healthful eating,

Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN


Interested in other nutrition ergogenic aids? Contact me at [email protected]