Effect of caffeine ingestion on time trial performance in cyclists: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Bin Chen, Li Ding, Qiyang Qin, Tze Huan Lei, Olivier Girard, Yinhang Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Caffeine, widely recognized as an ergogenic aid, has undergone extensive research, demonstrating its effectiveness to enhance endurance performance. However, there remains a significant gap in systematically evaluating its effects on time trial (TT) performance in cyclists. Purpose: This meta-analysis aimed to determine the efficacy of caffeine ingestion to increase cycling TT performance in cyclists and to evaluate the optimal dosage range for maximum effect. Methods: A search of four databases was completed on 1 December 2023. The selected studies comprised crossover, placebo-controlled investigations into the effects of caffeine ingestion on cycling TT performance. Completion time (Time) and mean power output (MPO) were used as performance measures for TT. Meta-analyses were performed using a random-effects model to assess the standardized mean differences (SMD) in individual studies. Results: Fifteen studies met the inclusion criteria for the meta-analyses. Subgroup analysis showed that moderate doses of caffeine intake (4–6 mg/kg) significantly improved cycling performance (SMD Time = -0.55, 95% confidence interval (CI) = -0.84 ~ -0.26, p < 0.01, I2 = 35%; SMD MPO = 0.44, 95% CI = 0.09 ~ 0.79, p < 0.05, I2 = 39%), while the effects of low doses (1–3 mg/kg) of caffeine were not significant (SMD Time = -0.34, 95% CI = -0.84 ~ 0.17, p = 0.19, I2 = 0%; SMD MPO = 0.31, 95% CI = -0.02 ~ 0.65, p = 0.07, I2 = 0%). Conclusion: A moderate dosage (4–6 mg/kg) of caffeine, identified as the optimal dose range, can significantly improve the time trial performance of cyclists, while a low dose (1–3 mg/kg) does not yield improvement. In addition, the improvements in completion time and mean power output resulting from a moderate dose of caffeine are essentially the same in cycling time trails.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2363789
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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