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Caffeine and Cognitive Functions in Sports: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Sports Department, Facultad de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y del Deporte, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Faculty of Sports Sciences, Universidad Europea de Madrid, 28670 Madrid, Spain
Studies Research Group in Neuromuscular Responses (GEPREN), University of Lavras, Lavras 37200-000, Brazil
Departamento de Motricidad Humana y Rendimiento Deporte, Universidad de Sevilla, 41013 Sevilla, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Juan J. Salinero
Nutrients 2021, 13(3), 868;
Received: 15 January 2021 / Revised: 26 February 2021 / Accepted: 1 March 2021 / Published: 6 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effect of Energy Drinks on Physical Performance)
Cognitive functions are essential in any form of exercise. Recently, interest has mounted in addressing the relationship between caffeine intake and cognitive performance during sports practice. This review examines this relationship through a structured search of the databases Medline/PubMed and Web of Science for relevant articles published in English from August 1999 to March 2020. The study followed PRISMA guidelines. Inclusion criteria were defined according to the PICOS model. The identified records reported on randomized cross-over studies in which caffeine intake (as drinks, capsules, energy bars, or gum) was compared to an identical placebo situation. There were no filters on participants’ training level, gender, or age. For the systematic review, 13 studies examining the impacts of caffeine on objective measures of cognitive performance or self-reported cognitive performance were selected. Five of these studies were also subjected to meta-analysis. After pooling data in the meta-analysis, the significant impacts of caffeine only emerged on attention, accuracy, and speed. The results of the 13 studies, nevertheless, suggest that the intake of a low/moderate dose of caffeine before and/or during exercise can improve self-reported energy, mood, and cognitive functions, such as attention; it may also improve simple reaction time, choice reaction time, memory, or fatigue, however, this may depend on the research protocols. View Full-Text
Keywords: caffeine; cognitive function; ergogenic drinks; sport caffeine; cognitive function; ergogenic drinks; sport
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lorenzo Calvo, J.; Fei, X.; Domínguez, R.; Pareja-Galeano, H. Caffeine and Cognitive Functions in Sports: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients 2021, 13, 868.

AMA Style

Lorenzo Calvo J, Fei X, Domínguez R, Pareja-Galeano H. Caffeine and Cognitive Functions in Sports: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2021; 13(3):868.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lorenzo Calvo, Jorge, Xueyin Fei, Raúl Domínguez, and Helios Pareja-Galeano. 2021. "Caffeine and Cognitive Functions in Sports: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis" Nutrients 13, no. 3: 868.

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