Caffeine and Performance – Part 1

Go to any gym on the Planet early in the morning what do you see?  Alright wiseguy, fat people walking on treadmills was not the answer I was looking for!  Coffee, and lots of it, as far as the eye can see.  The majority of these folks are drinking it to make sure they don’t fall asleep and knock their front teeth out while walking on the treadmill.  Little do they know that caffeine can aid them in performance and their goal of fat loss, though drip coffee is not the most efficient nor effective method. 

In this 2 Part Series, I am going to look at:
1) The Best Form of Caffeine to consume (i.e. drip coffee vs. powder (caffeine anhydrous))
2) The effectiveness of supplementing Caffeine for Fat Loss (lipolysis)
3) The impact of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance (i.e. Brain Function)
4) The Ergogenic (performance-enhancing) effects of caffeine on Endurance and Strength

Here is a brief overview of caffeine:
- Caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive substance(1)
- In North America, 90% of adults consume caffeine daily(1)
- It is the most commonly utilized substance in “energy” drinks
- It stimulates the Central Nervous System (CNS), making us feel alert

1) BEST Form of Caffeine
When consuming caffeine for performance, the best form is to consume is caffeine anhydrous (caffeine powder in a capsule).  The reason for this is that it is a) cheaper and b) more effective than consuming coffee in liquid form (i.e. drip coffee).

WARNING: This is NOT the best way to get your caffeine!

a) Cheaper
I use NSI Caffeine Anhydrous which I purchase from  There are 240 capsules and each contains 200 mg of caffeine.  The whole bottle costs $7.  So, let’s do the math…the Mayo Clinic’s website shows that on average a 16 oz. cup of coffee contains approx. 175 mg of caffeine(2).  Let’s round this to 200 mg.  That 16 oz. cup of coffee costs you around $2.  The one pill of caffeine anhydrous, which is 200 mg of caffeine, costs $0.03.  Paying 67 times less money for the same amount of caffeine is a no brainer!!!

b) More Effective
Caffeine anhydrous is more effective than a cup of coffee.  Roasting coffee beans changes the composition of the beans producing compounds which inhibit and alter the effects of the caffeine(3).  Also, it takes a lot longer to drink a 16 oz. cup of coffee than it does to pop a pill with some water.  Although the cup of coffee may have the same quantity of caffeine as a pill, it is administered over a longer period of time.  The 200 mg from the pill is administered in full right away, yet the 200 mg of caffeine from the cup of coffee is ingested in small increments over 20-30 minutes depending on how fast you drink it.

2) Fat Loss (lipolysis)
If you are interested in fat loss then, supplementing with caffeine is a great idea!  Caffeine causes your body to a) use fat as fuel, b) it does not matter your age and c) it still works even if you drink coffee daily!!! 

a) Caffeine causes fat to be used as fuel
Research suggests that caffeine affects what your body uses as fuel during exercise, switching from glycogen to an increased dependence on the mobilization of free fatty acids(4).  In layman’s terms, caffeine causes your body to use fat as fuel instead of glycogen.  Specifically, researchers found that a dose of caffeine of 5mg / kg of bodyweight resulted in significant increases in intramuscular fat oxidation during cycling(4)

b) Caffeine increases the number of calories you burn, regardless of your age
A study by Arcerio et al. observed the effects that caffeine had on 10 younger men (19-26 yrs old) versus 10 older men (65-80 yrs old).  The study was double-blind and placebo-controlled.  The dosage was 5mg of caffeine per kg of fat free mass (consists of mostly muscle and bone).  The younger men consumed about 350 mg and the older men consumed about 295 mg (so, the younger men had more fat free mass than the older men).  Energy expenditure increased by 11% in the younger group and 9.5% in the older group.  The scientists who performed the study stated, “older and younger men show a similar thermogenic response to caffeine ingestion…”  Basically, both young and old can benefit from the thermogenic effects of caffeine(5)

c) Caffeine increases the number of calories you burn, even if you consume it regularly
Supplementing as little as 100mg of caffeine has been shown to increase energy expenditure (burning of calories) via thermogenesis (body temperature increase), even though the subjects involved in the study consumed 100-200mg of Caffeine daily(6).  The increase in energy expenditure subsequent to caffeine ingestion continued for 3 hours after consumption(6).  To clarify, 100-200mg daily is equivalent to 1-2 cups per day.  It only makes sense that the more you consume on a daily basis, the less the impact that supplementing caffeine will have on energy expenditure.

To review, in Part 1 we learned that Caffeine Anhydrous (pill form) is a more effective method to supplement Caffeine than drinking coffee AND Caffeine increases fat burning and calories burned, regardless of age and regular consumption of 1-2 cups per day.  Tune in for Part 2 where we will look at caffeine’s impact on cognitive performance, strength and endurance.




Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a cup of coffee :)



1) Lovett, Richard; “Coffee: The demon drink?”, New Scientist Magazine.  September 24, 2005; Issue 2518: pgs. 577-579.

2) Mayo Clinic Staff; “Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more”, Published on 10/3/09, Accessed on 2/3/11.

3) de Paulis, Tomas; Schmidt, Dennis E.; Bruchey, Aleksandra K.; Kirby, Michael T.; McDonald, Michael P.; Commers, Patricia, et al.; “Dicinnamoylquinides in roasted coffee inhibit the human adenosine transporter”, European Journal of Pharmacology 442 (2002) 215– 223

4) Essig D.; Costill DL, Van Handel PJ; “Effects of caffeine ingestion on utilization of muscle glycogen and lipid during leg ergometer exercise”, International Journal of Sports Medicine. 1980, 1:86-90

5) Arciero PJ, Gardner AW, Calles-Escandon J, Benowitz NL, Poehlman ET. “Effects of caffeine ingestion on NE kinetics, fat oxidation, and energy expenditure in younger and older men”. The American journal of physiology. 1995 Jun;268(6 Pt 1):E1192-8

6) Astrup, A.; Toubro, S.; Cannon, S.; Hein, P.; Breum, L.; Madsen, J; “Caffeine: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of its thermogenic, metabolic, and cardiovascular effects in healthy volunteers”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. May 1990 Vol. 51 No. 5 pgs. 759-767 

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