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Chaparral 2019-2020: 28.1 Our Wellness

OUR Wellness

Caffeine Effects on the Athlete and Non-Athlete

by James Keshavarz
Wellness Coordinator

There is a lot of research on the benefits of caffeine for athletes in various sports, yet does the average person benefit from the effects of caffeine? We as educators can go into a coffee shop near our campus and see many seats filled with our students sipping on a caffeinated beverage while cramming for a major exam. It has been discovered that there are certain cognitive benefits from consuming caffeine for young adults, such as maintaining attention. For example, one study was done on 20 healthy male undergraduates at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. These students were given 160mg of caffeine per day via black tea (Kahathuduwa et al., 2017). This is not a significant amount of caffeine for a college student to consume. For example, a grande coffee at Starbucks has 330mg of caffeine. It was discovered in this study that students that consumed 160mg of caffeine were able to maintain better attention and alertness. For example, the group that consumed the caffeine had major improvements in visual reaction time (Kahathuduwa et al., 2017). This is important because improved visual reaction time can help a student stay on task when trying to comprehend what he or she is learning during study time and lectures. Furthermore, the experimental group also showed improvements in auditory responsiveness (Kahathuduwa et al., 2017), which can also be beneficial when trying to stay on task during class lectures. Therefore, it can be concluded that consuming a reasonable amount of caffeine (160mg) can help our students focus during lecture and study sessions.

Glendale College has a well-developed Athletics Department with very talented athletes. Would these already successful athletes benefit from caffeine as a legal performance enhancer? Pre-workouts are very popular amongst recreational weight lifters but are there major health risks that come with these ergogenic aides? The average pre-workout powder has 300mg of caffeine and a warning label that indicates certain health risks from consuming caffeine. C4 is one of the more popular pre-workout powders with 150mg of caffeine. The C4 label indicates that there are health risks associated with consuming caffeine and that one should consult his or her physician before using this powder. This shows that there may be some health risks for consuming moderate levels of caffeine for a non-athlete. Häusser et al. did research on the effects of caffeine on undergraduate students and did a pre and post screening of its subjects. The researchers found no change in the experimental group’s heart rate; however, there was an increase in blood pressure for the students that consumed 300mg of caffeine (Häusser et al., 2014). This study was done on students in a resting state; another study was done on female students in an active state. The second study was done on 15 active female college students (not athletes) which were given either a placebo or 3.3mg/kg (average mg for subjects was 150mg). The subjects ingested the caffeine or placebo within one hour of exercise and blood pressure was monitored. The findings of this research were the experimental group experienced much slower recovery in blood pressure than the placebo group (Connahan, & Barry, 2017). This shows that caffeine affects blood pressure for both males and females and the effect is increased when exercising. This is important because two studies have indicated that caffeine increases blood pressure at a state of rest and activity. Therefore, if someone has a history of high blood pressure, he or she should seek medical clearance before consuming moderate levels of caffeine. It can be determined that there is a risk associated with student athletes taking caffeine before workouts. This is especially true since many of our student athletes at Glendale College are already very stressed from balancing academics, sports, and most of the time, work.


Connahan, L. E., Ott, C. A., & Barry, V. W. (2017). Effect of Caffeine on near Maximal

Blood Pressure and Blood Pressure Recovery in Physically-Active, College-Aged Females. International Journal Of Exercise Science, 10(2), 266-273.

Häusser, J., Schlemmer, A., Kaiser, S., Kalis, A., & Mojzisch, A. (2014). The effects of

caffeine on option generation and subsequent choice. Psychopharmacology, 231(18), 3719-3727.

Kahathuduwa, C. N., Dassanayake, T. L., Amarakoon, A. T., & Weerasinghe, V. S.

(2017). Acute effects of theanine, caffeine and theanine–caffeine combination on attention.Nutritional Neuroscience, 20(6), 369-377.

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