Caffeine used as a supplement has been shown to improve physical and cognitive performance in several sport modalities due to its effects on the central nervous system. This review assesses the direct effects of caffeine supplementation on performance in combat sports. Using the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis) guidelines, relevant studies were identified through the Medline, Scopus and SPORTDiscus databases. Of 1053 search results, only 9 articles fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Of these, three studies detected no ergogenic effect of caffeine supplementation, while six studies did observe a significant positive effect. Supplementation with 3-6 mg/kg of caffeine was found to increase the glycolytic contribution to energy metabolism during the execution of real or simulated combats, as indicated by elevated blood lactate concentrations. Caffeine intake was also noted to improve levels of strength, power and upper arm muscular endurance. These effects were not paralleled by an increase in the exertion perceived by the athlete.
Keywords: Athlete; Ergogenic aid; Sport performance; Sport supplements.