Caffeine and bicarbonate for speed. A meta-analysis of legal supplements potential for improving intense endurance exercise performance

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A 1% change in average speed is enough to affect medal rankings in intense Olympic endurance events lasting ~45 s to 8 min which for example includes 100 m swimming and 400 m running (~1 min), 1,500 m running and 4000 m track cycling (~4 min) and 2,000 m rowing (~6-8 min). To maximize the likelihood of winning, athletes utilizes legal supplements with or without scientifically documented beneficial effects on performance. Therefore, a continued systematic evidence based evaluation of the possible ergogenic effects is of high importance. A meta-analysis was conducted with a strict focus on closed-end performance tests in humans in the time domain from 45 s to 8 min. These test include time-trials or total work done in a given time. This selection criterion results in a high relevance for athletic performance. Only peer-reviewed placebo controlled studies were included. The often applied and potentially ergogenic supplements beta-alanine, bicarbonate, caffeine and nitrate were selected for analysis. Following a systematic search in Pubmed and SportsDiscuss combined with evaluation of cross references a total of 7 (beta-alanine), 25 (bicarbonate), 9 (caffeine), and 5 (nitrate) studies was included in the meta-analysis. For each study, performance was converted to an average speed (km/h) from which an effect size (ES; Cohens d with 95% confidence intervals) was calculated. A small effect and significant performance improvement relative to placebo was observed for caffeine (ES: 0.41 [0.15-0.68], P = 0.002) and bicarbonate (ES: 0.40 [0.27-0.54], P < 0.001). Trivial and non-significant effects on performance was observed for nitrate (ES: 0.19 [-0.03-0.40], P = 0.09) and beta-alanine (ES: 0.17 [-0.12-0.46], P = 0.24). Thus, caffeine's and bicarbonate's ergogenic effect is clearly documented for intense endurance performance. Importantly, for all supplements an individualized approach may improve the ergogenic effect on performance.

TidsskriftFrontiers in Physiology
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 2017

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CURIS 2017 NEXS 146

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