A new study shows some sports supplements contain massive amounts of caffeine.

Researchers at Griffith University have assessed 15 popular pre-workout supplements (PWS), which are sold under the claim that they improve strength and reduce fatigue while training.

The results indicated that the caffeine contained within these products differed considerably from the product label, and that about half of the investigated PWS products could expose consumers to potentially dangerous levels of caffeine.

“We tested the caffeine content both within and between batches of the same product. Our values ranged from approximately 90 to almost 400 mg in one serve of some pre-workout products,” says Associate Professor Desbrow.

“We found a wide variation of caffeine content, suggesting that consumers have the potential to be exposed to large and potentially dangerous doses of the stimulant.”

Concerns over the increased availability of caffeinated products and increases in the frequency of caffeine related adverse events (including sleeping disturbance, anxiety, cardiovascular events, seizures and death), have led to the formation of guidelines for the caffeine.

Public health recommendations for caffeine are currently: single doses less than 200 mg and daily consumption less than 400 mg for adults, and less than 3mg·kg-1 of bodyweight·day-1 in younger adolescents (e.g less than 185mg·day-1 for the average (62kg) 16 year male).

The PWS data was also compared to manufacturer reported values on product panels.

“We found that product labels either did not state the caffeine content or did not provide consumers with an accurate estimate of likely caffeine dose. At present, it is challenging for any individual to ensure they ingest safe and effective ergogenic dose of caffeine when taking a PWS.

“The real concern comes when people take multiple doses of these products. This should be discouraged, as it is clearly not required from a sports performance perspective and may pose health risks.

“We need behaviourial studies to determine the frequency with which consumers risk exposure to excessive caffeine intakes from these products.”