Leveritt, M. D., Quinlivan, A., Irwin, C., Grant, G. D., Dukie, S., & Desbrow, B. (2012). Red Bull energy drink and anhydrous caffeine have similar benefits for cycling time-trial performance. Presentation 2789 at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, San Francisco, California; May 29-June 2, 2012.

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This study investigated the ergogenic effects of a commercial energy drink (Red Bull) compared to an equivalent dose of caffeine provided in capsules in well-trained male cyclists (N = 11). On three occasions, Ss were provided with a Red Bull energy drink, caffeine or placebo capsules 90 minutes before commencing a time-trial equivalent to one hour of cycling at 75% peak power output. Treatments were randomly administered and included Red Bull (~9 mL/kg body mass, containing 3 mg/kg body mass caffeine + placebo capsules), encapsulated anhydrous caffeine (placebo energy drink + 3 mg/kg body mass caffeine capsules), or a placebo (placebo energy drink + placebo capsules).Throughout each trial, exercise time, heart rate, blood lactate, and rating of perceived exertion were recorded.

Performance times improved with the caffeine and Red Bull treatments compared to the placebo, with no significant difference detected between the two caffeinated treatments. Average heart rates and ratings of perceived exertion were not significantly different across the three treatments. Blood lactate concentrations after exercise were greater in both the caffeine and Red Bull treatments when compared to the placebo condition.

Implication. Red Bull energy drink significantly improves endurance cycling performance to the same degree as an equivalent dose of anhydrous caffeine. It is likely that the caffeine in the drink is responsible for this effect.

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