Caffeine and exercise

As reported in the Science Daily News, former competitive cyclist and University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Robert Motl has investigated for a few years the effect caffeine has on athletes. In a recent study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, he shows that coffee (2 to 3 cups) before exercise decreases pain during the exercise.

There is a perception among athletes that consuming certain substances, like energy bars or sports drinks, before exercise helps metabolize fat more effectively. Motl’s study shows that it’s likely the caffeine in these substances that makes the exercise not hurt as much, so the athlete can push themselves harder. Sounds OK to me. I’m happy to drink a venti coffee before a bike ride—although I will have to make an extra pit stop as a result.

Apparently, more coffee after a hard bike ride is also beneficial. A paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that athletes who ingested caffeine with carbohydrate had 66% more glycogen in their muscles four hours after finishing intense, glycogen-depleting exercise, compared to when they consumed carbohydrate alone. Here’s their recipe to recover more quickly from exercise: Finish workout, eat pasta, and wash down with five or six cups of strong coffee. From Science Daily News.

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