In today’s Journal Club we’ll check out a brand new paper examining caffeine, coffee, and riding a bike as fast as you can. Does coffee improve your cycling? Should you stop drinking coffee in the lead-up to an important event in order to boost your caffeine sensitivity and performance on race day? Let’s find out.

Clarke, N.D. and D.L. Richardson, Habitual Caffeine Consumption Does Not Affect the Ergogenicity of Coffee Ingestion During a 5 km Cycling Time Trial. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2020: p. 1-8.

Before we cover a few highlights from the study, let’s start with a bit of context.

We’ve covered how coffee can boost your cycling performance in a previous post. You can check out that in-depth article by clicking on this link.

Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Caffeine will probably boost your cycling performance.
  2. Coffee seems to work just as well as pure caffeine.
  3. Classic research suggests that in order to get a full boost from caffeine on race day, you might need to back off your coffee habit for a few days before a race or event.
  4. More recent research suggests that you don’t need to back off drinking coffee in order to receive a performance boost on race day. That’s where the current study comes in.

Let’s take a look at the current study design.

Study design

1. Researchers evaluated habitual caffeine intake from participants

Participants separated into “high” and “low” caffeine groups

2. Participants consumed caffeinated coffee or placebo before 5k TT

Participants drank coffee 60m prior to a 5k TT

3. Researchers observed the performance impact and crunched the numbers

Reseachers sought to examine the impact of caffeine habituation on TT performance


Now that we have a basic overview of the study design, let’s jump in for further details.

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