This descriptive cross-sectional study assessed the perceptions, knowledge, and experiences of caffeine use by athletes competing at the 2005 Ironman Triathlon World Championships. Questionnaires were distributed to 140 athletes (105 men and 35 women, 40.3 ± 10.7 y old) representing 16 countries during prerace registration. A large proportion (73%) of these endurance athletes believe that caffeine is ergogenic to their endurance performance, and 84% believe it improves their concentration. The most commonly reported positive caffeine experiences related to in-competition use of cola drinks (65%) and caffeinated gels (24%). The athletes’ ability to accurately quantify the caffeine content of common food items was limited. The most popular sources of caffeine information were self-experimentation (16%), fellow athletes (15%), magazines (13%), and journal articles (12%). Over half the athletes (53%) could not identify an amount of caffeine required to improve their triathlon performance. Mean (± standard deviation) suggested doses were 3.8 (± 3) mg/kg body weight. Few side effects associated with taking caffeine during exercise were reported.
The authors are with the School of Public Health and Heart Foundation Research Centre, Griffith University, PMB 50, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, 9726.