The Best Timing and Dosage for Caffeine

25 October 2019
Connie Packer

Coffee Beans

Have you ever consumed caffeine late in the evening and found it difficult to unwind and fall sleep? You're not alone. To optimize cognitive and physical performance benefits from caffeine, dosing and timing are important. And the latest supplement science can help.

Caffeine May Influence Appetite Only in the Short Term

New Study: Caffeine Transiently Affects Food Intake at Breakfast

This study included fifty adults. Thirty minutes before offering them a breakfast buffet, they received a placebo, 1 mg caffeine per kg bodyweight, or 3 mg caffeine per kg bodyweight. The participants then went about their day, recording what they ate and how full they felt.

Researchers found that when participants took 1 mg caffeine per kg bodyweight, they ate about 130 fewer calories at the breakfast buffet.

It is notable, though, that the effect didn’t last. The calories consumed throughout the day were similar among all groups. So, despite eating fewer calories 30 minutes after consuming caffeine, the participants made up for it later in the day.

Daily Caffeine Use May Result in Tolerance

New Study: Time course of tolerance to the performance benefits of caffeine

This study involved eleven adults, averaging 32 years old. They included three women who started the experiment in the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. Participants were active, consumed less than 50 mg caffeine daily, and avoided caffeine during the month before the trial.

Participants took a placebo or 3 mg caffeine per kg bodyweight daily for 20 days.

Three days a week, participants completed a cycling exercise 45 minutes after taking their pill. At the mid point (day 11) participants completed the cycling exercise before taking their pill. Participants went through the 20 day experiment twice, once with placebo and once with caffeine.

Maximal output power during a 15 second cycling test was elevated during caffeine treatment until day 18 of the trial. During the first 4 days of the trial caffeine was associated with greater oxygen uptake and peak cycling power during the graded exercise test. Although ergogenic benefits were still seen after 20 days of supplementation, the benefits were smaller and not statistically significant in this small group.

The researchers offered a couple explanations for how daily caffeine use may result in tolerance. First, the body may respond to caffeine’s blocking of adenosine receptors by making more receptors. Or, second, the body may change the expression of some genes.

Caffeine Scheduling May Improve Effect on Physical Performance

New Study: Effects of different dosages of caffeine administration on wrestling performance during a simulated tournament

This study looked at various supplementation schedules during a simulated wrestling performance. It involved 12 men, aged 21-27.

There were several groups. The first group took a placebo. The second group took a high dose of caffeine (10 mg/kg bodyweight). The third group took a moderate dose of caffeine (4 mg/kg bodyweight). The fourth group took a repeated-dose of caffeine (2 mg/kg bodyweight up to a total of 10 mg/kg bodyweight) between matches. And the fifth group took a variable amount of caffeine based on measurement of decreased performance between matches.

Each match consisted of 2 × 3 minute rounds of competitive wrestling, with a 30 second rest between rounds. The second, third, and fourth wrestling matches were performed 45 minutes apart. And the last match was performed after 3 hours of recovery from the fourth round.

Wrestlers indicated that they were less fatigued before the fourth match with repeated or variable administration of caffeine. Also, the greatest physical benefit in the third and fourth rounds was seen with repeated and variable administration of caffeine.

The authors made the following conclusions:

  • Four mg/kg caffeine ingested before a wrestling tournament is ineffective to increase performance in wrestlers.
  • Ten mg/kg caffeine ingested before a wrestling tournament improves performance in the first match.
  • To improve wrestling performance in the third and fourth matches, ingestion of 2 mg/kg before each match is effective.
  • A moderate dose of caffeine (~6 mg/kg), repeatedly administered in low doses (2 mg/kg) before each match, improves performance in the third, fourth, and fifth matches.

Timing and Dosing of Caffeine

Caffeine from an oral supplement takes from 5 to 15 minutes to start appearing in the blood. And blood levels peak at around 40 minutes after ingestion. See "Exercise and Sport Performance with Low Doses of Caffeine." So studies usually schedule ingestion to be 30 minutes before events.

Some people metabolize caffeine faster than others. This is influenced by the CYP1A2 gene, which affects function of the liver.

The caffeine studies cited above show that repeated dosing may be useful for some goals. However, the studies also show that cycling caffeine (taking regular breaks) may help you avoid developing a tolerance to caffeine and losing some of the benefits. Unfortunately, the amount of time needed to reverse caffeine tolerance wasn’t addressed in the studies.

Thrivous Surge Acute Nootropic

Thrivous developed Surge Acute Nootropic to enhance energy, focus, and productivity. It contains 100 mg of Caffeine per serving, which is about the same amount of Caffeine in a cup of coffee.

Surge pairs Caffeine with L Theanine and Ginseng. Multiple human studies show that L Theanine promotes relaxation without sedation, and Ginseng may enhance focus. Human studies also show that L Theanine may decrease the side effects of caffeine, and Ginseng may complement the energy benefits of Caffeine.

Summaries and links to these studies are available on the product webpage.

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