A combination of caffeine and carbohydrates is the key to boosting sports performance, a new study has found.
This means that energy drinks such as Lucozade and Coca-Cola could be more effective as a performance aid than so-called 'sports drinks'.
Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University asked eight volunteers aged 18 to 22 to play three simulated soccer games designed to test their agility, dribbling, heading and kicking accuracy.
Before the first match participants were asked to drink a coloured liquid containing no caffeine or carbs, for the second they were given a drink containing caffeine only and for the third they were given a liquid containing both caffeine and carbohydrates.
The study found that the caffeine and carbohydrate combination gave the best results, improving the speed, accuracy and endurance of the players.
Lead researcher Mayur Ranchordas said: "We found that the combination of carbohydrate and caffeine allowed players to sustain higher work intensity for the sprints, as well as improving shooting accuracy and dribbling during simulated soccer activity.
"What we found suggests that if caffeine and carbs improve the skill and endurance of people playing football, it may also benefit other sporting events too."
It was found that while caffeine alone can help boost performance for shorter events, the addition of carbs helps improve endurance for activities lasting over an hour.
Professor Ranchordas added: "Our findings suggest that soccer players should choose a carbohydrate caffeine drink over a carbohydrate drink to consume before kick off and at half-time.
"There is already plenty of research that shows that caffeine and carbohydrate improve endurance, but this study shows that there is also a positive effect on skill and performance."
While energy drinks could provide a short-term boost before a sports activity, they are also laden with sugar and calories, and can easily lead to weight gain – not great for sports performance in the long-run.