Does that 'java-jolt' affect coffee and non-coffee drinkers alike?

Bethesda, MD (July 15, 2002) -- The late author Anne Morrow Lindberg observed, "Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after." While the art of conversation may have had its down periods, coffee has remained a renowned stimulant since its first appearance, circa 1,000 A.D.

The first recorded users of coffee are the Galla tribe in Ethiopia who noticed that they received an energy boost when they ground up the coffee bean and mixed it with animal fat. One thousand years later, many in the tribe known as the American labor force swear that a strong cup of coffee erases the effects of too little sleep. Witness, for example, the fact that the thousands of Americans who protect our country rely on coffee for the stimulation to fly an aircraft, stand a watch at sea, or stay awake for long hours while planning combat operations.

Americans having their morning coffee refer to the caffeine effect as a "charge" or "jolt." Physiologists, the scientists who study what makes the body "tick," call that effect "ergogenic." But are those caffeine drinkers in military uniform, white collar shirts, blue collar overalls and no-collar t-shirts, correct in thinking that coffee consumption will assist them in "making it through the day?"

Numerous studies have already demonstrated that caffeine ingested before physical activity causes rapid and significant improvement in performance, especially in aerobic exercise capacity. Most researchers believe that caffeine's ergogenic effect is related to the circulating level of the drug in the bloodstream, creating an assumption that the maximum effects are found one hour after consumption.

Two physiologists, affiliated with the Canadian research and defense establishment, recently set out to clarify several issues: whether the ergogenic effect achieved following the ingestion of 5 mg.kg-1 is related to the circulating concentra

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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