Caffeine combined with carbohydrate could be used to help athletes perform better on the field, according to new research by a sport nutrition expert.
Mayur Ranchordas, a senior lecturer and performance nutritionist at Sheffield Hallam University, carried out studies on footballers using caffeine and carbohydrates combined in a drink. Along with improvements in endurance caused by ingesting carbohydrate, the athletes' skill level improved after taking caffeine and carbohydrate together.
Mayur said: "There is already plenty of research that shows that caffeine and carbohydrate improve endurance, but this study shows that there is also a positive effect on skill and performance.
"We carried out three different soccer-specific match simulations of 90 minutes each - two 45 minute sessions - that tested agility, dribbling, heading and kicking accuracy. The test was designed to mimic a football game where the participants had to carry out multiple repeated sprints, dribble the ball around cones and shoot accurately.
"We found that the combination of carbohydrate and caffeine allowed players to sustain higher work intensity for the sprints, as well as improving shooting accuracy and dribbling during simulated soccer activity.
"These findings suggest that, for athletes competing in team sports where endurance and skill are important factors, ingesting a carbohydrate and caffeine drink, as opposed to just a carbohydrate drink, may significantly enhance performance. Our findings suggest that soccer players should choose a carbohydrate caffeine drink over a carbohydrate drink to consume before kick off and at half-time."