Today we find out if a few cans of full fat Coke actually enhances performance, or whether this is simple enduro folklore?
Is it their belief that a can of coke will boost performance due to its sugar and caffeine content? Or is it the fact that they simply crave a can of coke?
Either way, this choice of drink frequently happens.
But is it a wise idea to swap your high carb sports drink for a can of coke when you feel like you need an energy boost towards the end of a race?
In 2002, Cox etc al recruited 12 competitive cyclists where they split into 3 groups and completed a 2 hour steady state cycle before transitioning into a higher intensity time trial (approx. 30 mins).
Before the cycle, they were given a large carby meal (2g/kg), followed by an isotonic sports drink throughout the 2 hour cycle. I.e. they basically followed the proper sports nutrition guidelines that would replicate a real race.
Here’s where it gets interesting…
Group 1 consumed a large dose of caffeine 60 mins pre (6mg/kg).
Group 2 consume the same dose of caffeine but evenly dosed every 20 mins for 120 mins (6mg/kg in total).
Group 3 consumed no caffeine prior, but consumed Coke at 100, 120 mins and during the time trial.
When they compared this with the placebo, all three groups significantly improved performance by 3.1-3.4%. In essence, they all worked pretty well irrespective of caffeine timing.
Following on from this, they carried out another study (study B).
In study B, 8 of the riders consumed 3 different types of cola drinks during the last 40 mins of the 120 min steady state ride and during the time trial:
Drink 1 = Caffeinated, high carb (coke)
Drink 2 = Decaffeinated, high carb.
Drink 3 = Caffeinated, moderate carb.
The results showed that both caffeinated drinks improved time trial performance, where Coke was the superior with a 3.3% increase.
So, replacing your typical isotonic sports drink with a flat can of full fat coke at the end of a race probably isn’t the worst idea in the world…most likely due to its low caffeine content.
In this case, personal preference is key…A can of coke is definitely an option.
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