Thermoregulatory responses to exercise in the heat: chronic caffeine intake has no effect
Aerospace Medical Association
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
Introduction: Authorities advise individuals to refrain from caffeine intake before or during exercise, especially when performed in the heat, due to potential fluid-electrolyte imbalances that exaggerate physiological strain. Yet, military personnel are often deployed to hot environments and must perform under sleep-deprived conditions where caffeine would be an ideal intervention strategy to enhance physical and cognitive performance. Purpose: To assess the effects of controlled chronic and acute caffeine ingestion on fluid-electrolyte, physiological and thermoregulatory responses during an exercise heat tolerance test (EHT). Methods: Subjects were 59 active, college-aged males (mean ± SE 21.6 ± 0.4 yr, 177.9 ± 0.8 cm, 75.4 ± 1.0 kg, 11.1 ± 0.7% body fat) who were randomized and stratified by age, bodyweight, and body composition into three groups. All subjects equilibrated caffeine intake at 3 mg · kg−1 · d−1 for days 1–6. On days 7–12, they consumed a treatment dose of either 0 (G0), 3 (G3), or 6 (G6) mg · kg−1 · d−1. Fluid-electrolyte and physiological measures were made on day 12, 1 h after caffeine intake, during the EHT (90 min walking, 1.56 m · s−1, 5% grade; dry bulb temperature, 37.7 ± 0.1°C; relative humidity, 56.3 ± 1.5%). Results: There were no between-group differences (p > 0.05) in plasma, urinary, thermoregulatory, cardiovascular, and perceptual variables across time (pre- vs. post-EHT), although some of these variables increased significantly over time (p < 0.05). EHT time was significantly greater in G3 (86 ± 2.0 min) vs. G0 (75 ± 3.3 min, p < 0.05). Discussion: Acute caffeine ingestion, in chronically consuming subjects (3 and 6 mg · kg−1 · d−1) did not alter fluid-electrolyte, exercise endurance or thermoregulatory responses during EHT when compared with G0.