Experience From - Stan Jensen , David Liu , Karl King #1 , Brick Robbins , Mark Donaldson , Suzanne Williams , Royuichi, Debbie Richmeier , Scott Rafferty, Vida, Karl King #2,

Stan Jensen

Rob wrote:

"Caffeine without coffee? How can I have a cup of coffee without the coffee? I like to have a cup of real coffee the morning of a race, but it tends to upset my stomach and give me acid wash back. Is there a way I can get the equivalent caffeine without the coffee and in a way that's easy on my stomach?

I can't address the issue of your stomach problems, but here are caffeine equivalents from:

The Chemistry of Caffeine and related products

According to the National Soft Drink Association, the following is the caffeine content in mg per 12 oz can of soda:

Product Caffeine Content
Jolt 71.2
Sugar-Free Mr. Pibb 58.8
Mountain Dew 55.0
Mello Yellow 52.8
Tab 46.8
Coca-Cola 45.6
Diet Cola 45.6
Shasta Cola 44.4
Mr. Pibb 40.8
OK Soda 40.5
Dr. Pepper 39.6
Pepsi Cola 37.2
Aspen 36.0
Diet Pepsi 35.4
RC Cola 36.0
Canada Dry Cola 30.0
Canada Dry Diet Cola 1.2
7 Up 0

By means of comparison, a 7 oz cup of coffee has the following caffeine (mg) amounts, according to Bunker and McWilliams in J. Am. Diet. 74:28-32, 1979:

Product Cafine Content
Drip 115-175
Espresso 100mg - 1 serving (1.5-2oz)
Brewed 80-135
Instant 65-100
Decaf, brewed 3-4
Decaf, instant 2-3
Tea, iced (12 ozs.) 70
Tea, brewed, imported 60
Tea, brewed, U.S. 40
Tea, instant 30


Chocolate bar 30mg

so maybe all you need are three chocolate bars!

David Liu

Rob Bradlee wrote:

"How can I have a cup of coffee without the coffee?
Sometimes I use "no-doz" or "vivarin"..

they usually give me enough of a pick up so that I can run.. but then when you really don't feel like running.. all of the supplements in the world can't make you run well.. (well for me..)

Karl King #1

Rob Bradlee asked how to get "a cup of coffee" without actually drinking coffee.

There are numerous commercial products which supply caffeine in tablet form.

NoDoz, Vivarin, and many generic products. Your local drug store probably has half a dozen. Some supply 100 mg per tablet ( = one cup coffee ) and some supply 200 mg. You might as well buy on price because they all appear to be the same chemically. As I recall, Walgreens has a store brand that is moderately priced.

Remember, it is a drug. Never take in excess. 1000 mg can make a person delirious if taken all at once. Practice in a long training run before taking in a race.

Caffeine itself will prompt increased secretion of stomach acid, so taking it as a tablet may not necessarily reduce the acid reflux you get from coffee. If your stomach gets very acid, you can take a Tums, or a source of protein, such as yogurt, to get some relief. My favorite remedy is two big spoon fulls of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Tough to take.

Brick Robbins

Rob wrote:

How can I have a cup of coffee without the coffee? ...
I came across a type of small chocolate candies called "Turbo-Truffles" that have 200mg of caffeine each in them. They taste good, and I am planning on using them while I am pacing at WS this year, and if I don't have any problems, I'll use them again at Leadville. I don't know where else to get them besides the store where I found them here in SD, but I'll the owner. I've found No-Doze to be rather hard on my stomach, but these seem to be OK, but I haven't tried them on a long run yet...

Mark Donaldson

How about WaterJo - that new suff out of Chicago!

Suzanne Williams

Try "Coffee Go" - little candies that are power packed with caffeine. You can get them in Safeway or drug stores - they easily fit into a pack and don't upset your stomach.

Ryoichi ?

Sierra Nut House in Fresno (No, it's not a place for crazy people. They sell nuts, candies, coffee, etc.) sells coffee beans covered with chocolate. Instead of making coffee, you just eat the beans instead. Even though they are covered with chocolate, they are still very bitter. I don't know how many of them you have to eat to get the caffeine equivalent to a cup of coffee. But this seems like about the most direct method to get caffeine into your system.

Debbie Richmeier

My favorite caffeine addition to the SWC Milk is mixing 1//2 cup SWC milk and 1/2 strong (even boiled down to make it double strength) coffee. That gives you the equivalent of about 8 GU packs. I used it this week at Collegiate peaks and loved it. If you like mocha and Carmel you will love the taste. I got more of a lift from that then I ever did from a GU pack. I kept it in a water bottle in my fanny pack since mine holds 2 and I only need 1 with me incase I'm drinking faster than one hand held bottle per aid station. I found this works far better than using a smaller bottle to hold the liquid and keeping that inside my pack, which is always a drag for me to have to turn to the front and dig through. My next 50 I will use the whole can instead of only 1/2 cup. I wanted more just for the taste and it did give me a good energy source.

Scott Rafferty

"Those who enjoy coffee on runs might want to try a "Toddy" system. It turns a pound of coffee into a liquid concentrate by soaking in cold water overnight. Costs between $25 and $30. When coffee is diluted and reheated, it is naturally sweeter than traditional brew, because the hot water releases a lot of the acid in the bean. This also makes it easier to handle on a run."
I dilute mine in my Camelback, but the concentrate would be particularly handy for Debbie's recipe.


Here's a list of products and their caffeine content according to NUTRITION ACTION HEALTHLETTER, Dec. 1996:

Product Caffeine Content
Coffee, grande (16 oz.), Starbucks 550 mg
Coffee, tall (12 oz.), Starbucks 375
Coffee, short (8 oz.), Starbucks 250
NoDoz, Maximum Strength(1), or Vivarin(1) 200
7-Eleven Big Gulp Cola (64 oz.) 190
Coffee non-gourmet (8 oz.) 135*
Excedrin (2) 130
Maxwell House(8 oz.) 110
Caffe Americano, grande (16 oz.), Starbucks 105
No Doz, Reg Strength(1) 100
Coffee, instant (8 oz.) 95*
Caffe Americano, tall(12 oz.), Starbucks 70
Caffe Latte/Cappuccino, grande 16ozStarbucks 70
Espresso, double (2oz), Starbucks 70
Water, caffeinated (Edge2O) (8oz) 70
Anacin(2) 65
Cola(20 oz) 60
Mountain Dew(12 oz) 55
Cola(16oz) 50*
Tea, leaf or bag (8 oz) 50
Caffe Americano, short (8 oz) Starbucks 35
Caffe Latte, short (8oz)or tall (12 oz) Starbucks 35
Caffe Mocha, short(8oz) or tall (12 oz) Starbucks 35
Cappuccino, short(8 oz) or tall (12 oz)Starbucks 35
Cola (12 oz) 35*
Espresso (1 oz), Starbucks 35
Tea, green or instant (8 oz) 30*
Chocolate, dark, bittersweet or semi-sweet (1oz) 20
Coffee, decaf, grande (16 oz), Starbucks 15
Tea, bottled(12oz) or from instant mix (8oz) 15*
Coffee, decaf, short(8oz) or tall(12oz), Starbucks 10
Chocolate, milk (1oz) 5*
Coffee, decaf, non-gourmet(8oz) 5*
Cocoa or hot chocolate(8oz) 5*
Espresso, decaf(1oz), Starbucks 5
Tea, decaf(8 oz) 5*
* Typical Value

In case you're wondering, Starbucks uses twice the amount of coffee to get their signature taste.

Karl King #2

Lynne Werner asked why the tall Lattes renewed her energy in the 24 hour run.

The description sounds like the effects of caffeine. Why does it work? When energy runs low, adenosine ( left over from adenosine tri phosphate de-phosphorylization ) attaches to adenosine receptors on muscle cells.

This is a protective mechanism to conserve your energy if you are starving. Certain chemicals have a greater affinity for the receptor sites than adenosine. If you consume such chemicals, they will kick out the adenosine, making it available for re-phosphorylization to ATP.

The most common chemical that will do that is caffeine. Small amounts may not give much effect, but if you get enough it becomes significant.

At the end of long runs ( 100s, 24 hrs ) you'll see runners taking Coke or Mountain Dew. The drinks provide both sugar for energy and caffeine in high enough concentration to produce the adenosine replacement.

Eventually, your body will eliminate the caffeine and your energy will flag. Thus the conventional wisdom that once you start on Coke, you should continue it till the end of the run or you'll get a nasty crash.

I don't care much for the acidity of sodas during a run; I prefer chocolate GU for a lift.