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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Nov;111(5):1372-9. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01028.2010. Epub 2011 Aug 11.

Caffeine intake improves intense intermittent exercise performance and reduces muscle interstitial potassium accumulation.

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Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


The effect of oral caffeine ingestion on intense intermittent exercise performance and muscle interstitial ion concentrations was examined. The study consists of two studies (S1 and S2). In S1, 12 subjects completed the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery level 2 (Yo-Yo IR2) test with prior caffeine (6 mg/kg body wt; CAF) or placebo (PLA) intake. In S2, 6 subjects performed one low-intensity (20 W) and three intense (50 W) 3-min (separated by 5 min) one-legged knee-extension exercise bouts with (CAF) and without (CON) prior caffeine supplementation for determination of muscle interstitial K(+) and Na(+) with microdialysis. In S1 Yo-Yo IR2 performance was 16% better (P < 0.05) in CAF compared with PLA. In CAF, plasma K(+) at the end of the Yo-Yo IR2 test was 5.2 ± 0.1 mmol/l with no difference between the trials. Plasma free fatty acids (FFA) were higher (P < 0.05) in CAF than PLA at rest and remained higher (P < 0.05) during exercise. Peak blood glucose (8.0 ± 0.6 vs. 6.2 ± 0.4 mmol/l) and plasma NH(3) (137.2 ± 10.8 vs. 113.4 ± 13.3 μmol/l) were also higher (P < 0.05) in CAF compared with PLA. In S2 interstitial K(+) was 5.5 ± 0.3, 5.7 ± 0.3, 5.8 ± 0.5, and 5.5 ± 0.3 mmol/l at the end of the 20-W and three 50-W periods, respectively, in CAF, which were lower (P < 0.001) than in CON (7.0 ± 0.6, 7.5 ± 0.7, 7.5 ± 0.4, and 7.0 ± 0.6 mmol/l, respectively). No differences in interstitial Na(+) were observed between CAF and CON. In conclusion, caffeine intake enhances fatigue resistance and reduces muscle interstitial K(+) during intense intermittent exercise.

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