Caffeine as a lipolytic food component increases endurance performance in rats and athletes

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2001 Apr;47(2):139-46. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.47.139.


Caffeine is one of the famous ergogenic aids in the athletic field. Caffeine has been known to stimulate lipolysis that spares stored glycogen utilization during moderate intensity exercise. Therefore, we investigated the effects of caffeine ingestion on exercise performance in rats and athletes. Rats were administered the caffeine (6 mg/kg) 1 h prior to the exercise then were run on a treadmill at a speed of 20 m/min. They were decapitated at 0 min, 30 min, 60 min of exercise, and exhausted time point. Human subjects ingested the caffeine (5 mg/kg) 1 h prior to the exercise. They exercised on a cycle ergometer at 60% of their VO2max for 45 min, and then the exercise intensity was increased to 80% of their VO2max until exhaustion. Blood and breathing gas samples were collected and calculated every 10 min during exercise. Respiratory exchange ratio of the caffeine trial was significantly lower than that of the placebo trial in the athletes' study (p<0.05). Blood free fatty acid (FFA) levels in studies of both rats and athletes were increased by caffeine ingestion during exercise (p<0.05). Blood lactate levels were also increased during exercise in both rats and athletes (p<0.05). Increased FFA and glycerol concentrations reduced glycogen utilization during exercise compared with placebo group in rats. In addition, endurance time to exhaustion was significantly increased by the caffeine ingestion in both rats and athletes (p<0.05). These results suggest that the caffeine ingestion enhanced endurance performance resulting from spare stored glycogen with increasing lipolysis from adipose tissues and fat oxidation during exercise both in rats and in athletes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Bicycling
  • Breath Tests
  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood
  • Lipolysis / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Respiration


  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Lactates
  • Caffeine
  • Glycogen