There’s NO Caffeine in e-Gel and e-Fuel, here’s why

the caffeine dehydration debate

Caffeine has been proven to be a diuretic (causes urine production) and yet some studies have concluded that caffeine does NOT cause dehydration. These two statements would seem to contradict each other, but read on for an explanation. Based on these studies, many athletes now think it’s a good idea to use caffeine throughout an endurance event. But let’s look at what the studies actually say:

caffeine debate
Mayo Clinic

“Drinking caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle doesn’t cause fluid loss in excess of the volume ingested.” (link to article)


“Caffeine can make you need to urinate. However, the fluid you consume in caffeinated beverages tends to offset the effects of fluid loss when you urinate.” (link to article)

The National Library of Medicine

“published studies offers no support for the suggestion that consumption of caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle leads to fluid loss in excess of the volume ingested” (link to article)

Do you notice the common theme in all of these conclusions? Caffeine makes you urinate, but not in excess of the volume ingested. In other words, you urinate out the fluid in the drink. This comes as no surprise to coffee drinkers. Simply translated, caffeine prohibits the drink from hydrating you!

This is a big problem for endurance athletes. What dehydrates you is the fact that you are training or competing in a grueling sport. Your sports drink (or water with your gel) is supposed to rehydrate you – that’s the whole point! When you add caffeine, some or all of the water is routed to your bladder instead of to parts of the body where it’s needed. Proper hydration is critical to performing your best as well as avoiding cramping and injuries.

But there’s another reason as well, read on:

caffeine and "energy"

Caffeine doesn’t provide energy, rather it’s a stimulant that causes you to exert energy. Your energy comes from your glycogen stores and the carbohydrates that you consume while training or competing. The stimulative effect of caffeine diminishes with subsequent doses (ie, you get a big “boost” from your first cup of coffee, and not so much from your 3rd cup later in the day). In an endurance event you don’t want to be exerting more energy than necessary early in the event, that’s a good way to run out of energy before the end.

Likewise, at the end of a long endurance event, you may be out of it mentally and physically and really in need of a “boost”. If you have been relying on caffeine since early on in the event, then you are not going to get the boost you are looking for at the end. This is due to the diminishing stimulative effect discussed above. But if you have been “caffeine free” for the duration of the event, then you will get the kick you are in need of at the end with your first and only shot of caffeine.

In addition, if the caffeine impacts your ability to remain hydrated, then by taking it at the end you will minimize the potential effects of dehydration – namely: degraded performance, cramping, injuries and increased recovery time. For more information on hydration and dehydration, watch this video.

For those that want to use caffeine in these situations, there are lots of caffeinated products on the market to choose from. Just use e-Gel and/or e-Fuel for the bulk of the event and then a competing caffeinated product at the end – we’re okay with that!

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