Acute and habitual caffeine ingestion and metabolic responses to steady-state exercise

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1992 Apr;72(4):1297-303. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1992.72.4.1297.


This study compared the exercise catecholamine and metabolic responses to a caffeine challenge in trained subjects before and after a 6-wk period of increased caffeine ingestion. Trained subjects (n = 6) were challenged with 500 mg of caffeine followed by prolonged exercise before and after 6 wk of increased caffeine ingestion (500 mg ingested before each daily run). A control group (n = 6) of trained subjects followed the same protocol except for caffeine ingestion. Acute caffeine ingestion resulted in increased plasma epinephrine and decreased respiratory exchange ratio (RER) during exercise. After 6 wk of caffeine supplementation, the epinephrine response to exercise or caffeine plus exercise was decreased, although the latter still resulted in a lower RER value compared with exercise without caffeine ingestion. Activity of key metabolic enzymes (hexokinase, citrate synthase, phosphorylase, and 3-hydroxyacyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase) from biopsies of the gastrocnemius showed no response to 6 wk of this increased adrenergic receptor stimulation and, on the basis of the lower RER, enhanced fat metabolism. This study suggests that caffeine ingestion by trained subjects causes increases in plasma epinephrine and reduces the RER during exercise. However, habitual stimulation results in a general dampening of the epinephrine response to caffeine or exercise. There was no indication that increased adrenergic stimulation and fat oxidation caused any adaptation in the activity of metabolic enzymes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Muscles / drug effects
  • Muscles / enzymology
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / drug effects


  • Caffeine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine