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St Mary’s Study Discovers Commercial Energy Drinks are Unlikely to Improve Exercise Performance

New research from St Mary's has found that smaller doses of caffeine and taurine might not help athletes perform better on high intensity exercise tasks.

New research from the Sport & Exercise Physiology Research Group at St Marys University, Twickenham has found that supplementation with smaller doses of caffeine and taurine, which are the two main ingredients of commercial energy drinks, might not help athletes perform better on high intensity exercise tasks.

In the most recent study (Jeffries et al., 2017), the research group showed that supplementation with caffeine or taurine at doses equal to that found in most energy drinks, did not increase repeat sprint ability. In a second study (Warnock et al., 2017), they found that increasing these doses improved repeat sprint performance. In some cases, taurine, rather than caffeine, was the most effective supplement.

Of additional interest to athletes or those consuming caffeine-containing products, was the increase in heart rate demonstrated with both small and larger doses of caffeine. This was the case even before the participants had started exercise and would reflect an increase in resting metabolism.

These studies bring to light the importance of caffeine and taurine as pre-workout or pre-competition supplements for athletes when taken at the correct dose.

Senior Lecturer in Physiology and Strength & Conditioning Dr Mark Waldron said “Athletes who are required to perform multiple sprints as part of their sport, such as team sports athletes, should carefully consider the use of commercial energy drinks or co-ingestion of caffeine and taurine supplements at similar doses”.

Lecturer in Physiology Dr Owen Jeffries supports this advice by suggesting that “an increased heart rate prior to exercise may reflect a greater energy usage at rest, depleting the reserves that may be required for the latter stages of high intensity team sport exercise”.

The study entitled “Energy drink doses of caffeine and taurine have a null or negative effect on sprint performance” was published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, while the study entitled “The Effects of Caffeine, Taurine or Caffeine-Taurine Co-Ingestion on Repeat-Sprint Cycling Performance and Physiological Responses” was published in The International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.

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