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It is no surprise that caffeine issues an energy boost, but can drinking coffee improve your workout?
Canada's Defence Research and Development department has studied how people respond to exercise and found that the combination of caffeine and ephedrine could increase performance for as long as 45 minutes.
The Times Newspapers in England covered the phenomenon and said physiologists from the department “proved that caffeine improves time to exhaustion, increases heart rate and boosts oxygen consumption during exercise. However, people unaccustomed to drinking coffee receive the greatest benefit.”
Health benefits of coffee also include reduction of muscle pain in moderate-intensity workouts.
The Exercise Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign published a study on how caffeine intake affected leg muscle pain in female cyclers and found that women who consumed any caffeine indicated they felt less muscle pain than women who took a placebo. Previous studies on men have also indicated caffeine can reduce muscle pain.
These studies were all done in control settings and there is a lack of evidence that caffeine is effective in the field. Iowa State University warns that while caffeine can reduce fatigue, it is a diuretic and promotes dehydration.
To enhance performance, they recommend consuming a cup of coffee or the equivalent amount of caffeine an hour before endurance exercise and larger amounts of caffeine are likely to be counterproductive.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|