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This International Coffee Day we ask: Does coffee really improve cycling performance?

Now, we all know that coffee and cycling go hand in hand. Who doesn’t like a cafe stop on a cycling adventure.  But, did you know the effects of caffeine in the body and how it can improve your cycling performance? 

This week, we caught up with SR Performance Services Limited Nutritionist, James Worley who said “put simply, caffeine improves performance by enhancing the function of the central nervous system. This enhanced activation helps to lower the perceptions of tiredness and fatigue, and improve brain function by increasing attention and concentration."

But it’s important to understand the amount of coffee affects individual performance in different ways, so testing the amount of milligrams of caffeine consumed before tackling a ride or a Wattbike session is definitely recommended. 

Worley added “A dose as little as a double espresso has the ability to produce the desired performance effects for most people. Caffeine takes time to peak in the bloodstream so try consuming a double espresso 45 minutes or so, prior to when you want the desired performance effects.”

Caffeine levels vary between coffee types, so it's beneficial to know what type of coffee is best and when. BikeRadar recently suggested three different types for pre, mid and post ride...

  • Best pre-ride: Double espresso – 185mg caffeine, 6cal, 0.4g protein, 0.8g carbohydrate, 0.2g fat.
  • Best mid-ride: Medium Americano (with a splash of skimmed milk) – 277mg caffeine, 18cal, 1.6g protein, 2.6g carbohydrate, 0.3g fat.
  • Best for recovery: Medium mocha (with full fat milk) – 75mg caffeine, 301cal, 10.7g protein, 57.4g carbohydrate, 11.3g fat.

Having a milky coffee post workout will provide your body with essential protein, calcium and fat, and in turn can improve and support your recovery. Worley adds: “be careful you do not consume caffeine too late into the evening as this could affect your sleep quality.  Caffeine can stay at high levels in your bloodstream for 4-6 hours after ingestion.”

All the science considered, it seems silly to not mention that a coffee can does wonders for morale!

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