Caffeine increases exercise intensity and energy expenditure but does not modify substrate oxidation during 1 h of self-paced cycling.
Abstract: Aim Oral caffeine intake has been deemed as an effective supplementation strategy to enhance fat oxidation during aerobic exercise with a steady-state intensity. However, in real exercise scenarios, individuals habitually train with autoregulation of exercise intensity. This study aimed to analyze the effect of oral caffeine intake during self-paced cycling on autoregulated exercise intensity and substrate oxidation. Methods Fifteen young and healthy participants (11 men and 4 women) participated in a double-blind, randomized, cross-over investigation. Each participant took part in 2 experimental days consisting of pedaling for 1 h with a self-selected wattage. Participants were told that they had to exercise at a moderate intensity to maximize fat oxidation. On one occasion participants ingested 3 mg/kg of caffeine and on the other occasion ingested a placebo. Energy expenditure, fat oxidation rate, and carbohydrate oxidation rate were continuously measured during exercise by indirect calorimetry. Results In comparison to the placebo, caffeine intake increased the self-selected wattage (on average, 105 ± 44 vs 117 ± 45 W, respectively, P < 0.001) which represented a higher total work during the cycling session (377 ± 157 vs 422 ± 160 kJ, P < 0.001). Caffeine increased total energy expenditure (543 ± 161 vs 587 ± 155 kcal, P = 0.042) but it did not affect total fat oxidation (24.7 ± 12.2 vs 22.9 ± 11.5 g, P = 0.509) or total carbohydrate oxidation (87.4 ± 22.4 vs 97.8 ± 32.3 g, P = 0.101). Conclusion Acute caffeine ingestion before an exercise session with an individual's freedom to regulate intensity induces a higher self-selected exercise intensity and total work. The selection of a higher exercise intensity augments total energy expenditure but eliminates the effect of caffeine on substrate oxidation during exercise.
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