Women Power Up on Caffeine Throughout the Menstrual Cycle

13 June 2020
Connie Packer

Basketball Power

There are many studies that focus on the benefits of caffeine. It takes a lot to build understanding of a supplement and identify its benefits, how it works, when it's useful, and how it should be used.

The first study, below, looked at the results of over 250 studies to make some conclusions and identify some holes in the research. The two studies after that help to fill in those holes in caffeine research.

Meta-Analysis Confirms General Caffeine Benefits

New Study: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: Caffeine Supplementation and Exercise Performance-An Umbrella Review of 21 Published Meta-Analyses

This study took the results of over 250 studies and combined them to make broader conclusions about caffeine. The researchers found that caffeine enhanced aerobic endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, power, jumping performance, and exercise speed.

However, the available data was not adequate to specify optimal dosage for the various types of exercise. It also wasn't adequate to determine optimal dosage across the phases of women’s menstrual cycles. The authors pointed out that, while some studies showed similar benefits for men and women, few studies have included women.

Studies generally timed ingestion 60 minutes before exercise. But the authors point out that optimal timing may potentially vary by genetic variation.

Caffeine Works Throughout the Menstrual Cycle 

New Study: The Effect of Caffeine on the Velocity of Half-Squat Exercise During the Menstrual Cycle: A Randomized Controlled Trial

This study focused on resistance exercise at different points of the menstrual cycle. The participants included 13 training athletes with regular menstrual cycles and caffeine intake less than 100 mg per day.

The testing was performed twice during each phase of the menstrual cycle (early follicular, late follicular, and mid-luteal phases), 48 hours apart. Participants received a placebo or 3 mg caffeine per kg bodyweight, sixty minutes before completing the half squat exercises.

The data showed similar increases in mean and peak velocity during all 3 phases of the menstrual cycle. The researchers acknowledged that the participants did not have any menstrual related disorders, which are common among menstruating athletes. But for regularly-menstruating athletes who want to focus on high-velocity resistance training enhanced by caffeine, they may not have to worry about scheduling around their menstrual cycle.

Caffeine Enhances Athletic Performance of Women

New Study: Acute Caffeine Supplementation Promotes Small to Moderate Improvements in Performance Tests Indicative of In-Game Success in Professional Female Basketball Players.

This study focused on the effects of caffeine on various high-intensity activities, representative of movements in a basketball game.

The study included 10 professional female basketball players. They ingested a placebo or 3 mg caffeine per kg bodyweight. Then, sixty minutes later, they completed a series of countermovement jumps (CMJ) with and without arm swing, a squat jump (SJ), the lane agility drill, 20m sprints (with 5m and 10m split times recorded) with and without dribbling a ball, and a suicide run.

All participants consumed less than 100 mg caffeine regularly and completed the study during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. The researchers noted that caffeine may be metabolized slightly slower during the luteal phase, increasing the potential effect of caffeine.

The researchers found that caffeine supplementation enhanced countermovement jump height without arm swing by 4.6%, countermovement jump height with arm swing by 3.8%, and squat jump height by 4.8%. Within individual differences, researchers saw small improvements in vertical jump height and change of direction speed, as well as slightly to moderately faster sprint and repeated-sprint times.

The positive performance effects of caffeine supplementation were accompanied by moderately lower ratings of perceived exertion and a small increase in perceived performance. Researchers also noted that, while some individuals saw slight improvements, some individuals saw much greater improvements.

The authors concluded that female basketball players may benefit from caffeine supplementation but that degree of enhancement may vary by person.

It's great to see a study that systematically compiled the available data to draw overall conclusions. I also find it exciting to see the data gaps filled in by the results of new studies.

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