Some of our favorite athletes are just like us – they have their everyday caffeine regimen and love it.
But did you know that some athletes don’t just have it as part of their morning routine? They also use it to boost sports performance.
In fact, three-fourths of the world’s elite athletes take advantage of caffeine’s performance-enhancing properties. For instance, former Scottish cyclist Chris Hoy, a six-time gold medalist, used to bring his own coffee paraphernalia to every competition, including the 2012 London Games. 
Cyclist and six-time gold medalist Chris Hoy preparing for action (credits: chrishoy.com)
But have athletes always been allowed to have their caffeine fix, especially right before the sport?
If so, how much are they allowed to consume?
We’re familiar with what caffeine does. It’s a pick-me-upper. It helps us stay awake and alert. It ‘wires’ us up.
But some athletes and their performance entourage have taken this to a whole another level. They tap into caffeine’s “ergogenic” properties that enhance speed and stamina. 
Take it from Gretchen Reynolds of The New York Times: 
“Caffeine improves athletic performance. This is a truth almost universally acknowledged in exercise science.”
Maria Sharapova in her morning coffee run (credits: Zimbio.com)
Caffeine’s perks include delaying feelings of fatigue and preventing sleep brought about by the binding of brain receptors into sleep-inducing neurotransmitter, adenosine.  Bodes well for globe-trotting athletes when they face this monster called jetlag!
It also aids “short-term, intense activities and improves endurance athletes’ times by up to 3 percent—a margin that could certainly matter in Olympic-caliber competition,” according to an article by Men’s Health on the subject. 
For many years, science has backed up caffeine’s big role in improving physical performance. Many athletes and their health teams believe that easing off on it days before the sporting event will boost performance.
But this new study from the Journal of Applied Physiology reports that athletes don’t really have to abstain from it. In fact, there’s no notable difference between drinking coffee days prior to the event and right before the gun start. 
According to Bruno Gualano, a professor of physiology and nutrition at the University of Sao Paulo, who conducted the study: 
“No matter the habitual caffeine intake in the diet, acute caffeine supplementation can improve performance.”
Sounds like an Olympic win-win for coffee-loving athletes!
Did you know that Olympic officials used to restrict caffeine consumption? They first banned caffeine in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games and only allowed it back in 2004.
From 1984 to 2004, if athletes’ urine contained more than 12 micrograms per milliliter of caffeine, then they have a problem.
But this limit is in itself a problem for three reasons:
So the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decided to remove caffeine from the list of prohibited substances.
Fast forward to the present and athletes enjoy happy days. They’ve been free to drink coffee, down energy drinks, pop a caffeine mint, or chew caffeinated gum for an added boost.
While there have been recent reports about WADA reinstating caffeine in the restricted list, there has been no major changes of late to the said list. 
Caffeine is still in the WADA watch list for 2018 though, so coffee-loving athletes aren’t totally in the clear. 
Some institutions still impose limits as well.
The NCAA only allows caffeine intake among college athletes to 15 micrograms per milliliter, equivalent to six to eight cups of coffee within two to three hours before a competition. 
Now here's an interesting video about how caffeine is being legally used in sports:
Is there a big difference between synthetic and natural caffeine? Which gives a stronger jolt? Does it even matter?
Natural caffeine in coffee, tea, and chocolate is much less common than the synthetic caffeine found in so many other products.
Caffeine is found in plant species such as the more popular ones like Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta, as well as tea leaves, kola nuts, cacao beans, Yerba mate and guarana berries.
Not only does naturally-occurring caffeine from said plants keep your cognitive functions at their peak, but it also contains antioxidants that help you fight illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s.