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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Jan 8. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001885. [Epub ahead of print]

Women Experience the Same Ergogenic Response to Caffeine as Men.

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School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, The University of Queensland, Australia.
School of Allied Health Sciences, Griffith University, Australia.
Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Australia.
School of Health and Sports Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Australia.
School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Griffith University and Quality Use of Medicines Network, Australia.



This study aimed to determine if 1) consumption of caffeine improves endurance cycling performance in women, and 2) sex differences exist in the magnitude of the ergogenic and plasma responses to caffeine supplementation.


Twenty-seven (11 women and 16 men) endurance-trained cyclists and triathletes participated in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Participants completed an incremental exercise test to exhaustion, two familiarization trials and two performance trials. Ninety minutes prior to the performance trials participants ingested opaque capsules containing either 3 mg·kg body mass of anhydrous caffeine or a placebo. They then completed a set amount of work (75% of peak sustainable power output) in the fastest possible time. Plasma was sampled at baseline, pre- and post-exercise for caffeine. Strict standardization and verification of diet, hydration, training volume and intensity, and for women, contraceptive hormone phase was implemented.


Performance time was significantly improved following caffeine administration in women (placebo: 3863±419s, caffeine: 3757±312s; p=0.03) and men (placebo: 3903±341s, caffeine: 3734±287s; p<0.001). The magnitude of performance improvement was similar for women [4.3% (0.4-8.2%); mean (95% CI)] and men [4.6% (2.3-6.8%)]. Plasma caffeine concentrations were similar between sexes before exercise, but significantly greater in women after exercise (p<0.001).


Ingestion of 3 mg·kg body mass of caffeine enhanced endurance exercise performance in women. The magnitude of the performance enhancement observed in women was similar to that of men, despite significantly greater plasma caffeine concentrations following exercise in women. These results suggest the current recommendations for caffeine intake (i.e. 3-6 mg·kg caffeine prior to exercise to enhance endurance performance), which are derived almost exclusively from studies on men, may also be applicable to women.

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