Coffee-drinking athletes are doing it right

By Ea Francisco 

One of the world’s most widely consumed beverage has to be coffee; some even drink it like it’s water. Even athletes can’t resist a cup of coffee sometimes, and you’d be relieved to know that it’s not just empty calories. The benefits lie in its primary ingredient, caffeine.

Makes You More Alert

Coffee is known to keep you awake. This is because caffeine blocks the neurotransmitter adenosine (ATP), a chemical that slows down brain signals when you need to sleep or rest. Because of this, you are less likely to feel fatigue or exhaustion, making you more alert during exercise. Numerous research including one conducted by the US Military showed that it improved cognitive abilities and physical performance while having no effect on hydration.

Performance Boost

Caffeine helps your body break down fat, so it can be used as the primary energy source instead of glycogen. Maintaining high glycogen levels can be the most beneficial to endurance athletes. It helps you perform longer and at a higher intensity while reducing the time it takes to feel fatigue during exertion. Athletes with low glycogen levels are shown to be more prone to overtraining and muscle breakdown.

Lessens Muscle Soreness

In addition to slowing brain signals, ATP is also involved in energy storage and muscle contraction. Since caffeine blocks ATP, it also reduces your perceptions of pain. A study by the University of Georgia showed that between two groups, the group given with caffeine experienced less soreness days after the exercise compared with the other group.

Coffee was so effective at improving performance that, for a time, it was banned from the Olympics by the World Anti-Doping Agency until it was reduced to a “controlled or restricted substance” in 2004.

Fat Burn

Caffeine stimulates lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fats during digestion. It is then converted into energy and helps speed up metabolism. Studies say that metabolic rate can increase by up to 11 percent, but only for a short while. Moderate coffee intake can, at least, ensure constant fat burn for the day.

Be warned, though, that excessive amounts of coffee and caffeine are just as bad. Caffeine is a stimulant that increases your heart rate and makes you jittery. There’s a reason why red flags are raised to coffee consumption by pregnant women and those with heart problems. For anyone else, a few cups of coffee is a great diet and workout companion.