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Getting Juiced With Coffee

Getting Juiced With Coffee

Back when I considered myself athletic, I would ride centuries each weekend (that is cyclist lingo for 100+ mile rides). This was no small feat, as by the end of the days labors I was pretty much spent and only capable of sleeping and squatting in front of the fridge to forage for the necessary nourishment. But before, and sometimes during, the ride I would usually pop one ibuprofen with a small espresso chaser. This was my breakfast of champions, whereas one of my riding buddies (who was of Irish heritage) swore that a 16-ounce can of Guinness was the only thing one peddler would need to maintain on two wheels. We saw things quite differently, but nevertheless, rode about at the same pace – me caffeinated and he…I guess kind of lit.

Now there is nothing I love more than vindication, except maybe vindication served up with another fine reason to be drinking coffee. Well, according to a report in The New York Times, drinking coffee, besides being a delicious and stimulating way to start your day, is also a pretty damn effective way to keep your endurance level up when engaged in anaerobic activities, like team sports and weight training. It is no secret that it is the caffeine, and not the naturally occurring antioxidants or milky foam, that makes for a more productive and galvanized workout. As reported, researchers at Coventry University in England recently recruited 13 fit young men and asked them to repeat a standard weight-training gym regimen on several occasions. An hour before one workout, the men consumed a sugar-free energy drink containing caffeine. An hour before another, they drank the same beverage, minus the caffeine. Then the men lifted, pressed and squatted, performing each exercise until they were exhausted. But exhaustion came much later for those lucky few who were sufficiently caffeinated. “Essentially, we found that with the caffeinated drink, the person felt more able to invest effort,” says Michael Duncan, a senior lecturer in sports science at the University of Exeter in England and lead author of the study. “They would put more work into the training session, and when the session was finished, in the presence of the caffeinated drink, they were more psychologically ready to go again.”

The explanation for all of this is somewhat technical (having to do with “antagonizes adenosine” and muscle contractions) and not all that well understood, but the results showed that volunteers performed 16% better than their non-caffeinated counterparts. In addition, the ingestion of caffeine had a somewhat remarkable effect on the central nervous system and on those parts of the brain involved in mood, alertness and fine motor coordination during exercise. Subjects in this study performed, not with just more endurance, but more accuracy and focus as well (this is hardly a surprise to the caffeine devoted). The only tricky thing is finding and perfecting the ideal dose, as many of us can attest that too much caffeine is rarely a good thing.

So while the jury is still out on the impact of beer swilling on the athletic pursuit, it seems that coffee and other caffeinated beverages (at least in moderation) show positive results for those looking to maximize their workout.

Have you found caffeine to be beneficial to your energy level and endurance when it comes to exercise, sports, and strenuous activity? Have you experienced the downside? Is there something better that is not a controlled substance?

Read more: Blogs, Drinks, Eating for Health, Fitness, Following Food, Food, General Health, , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

12 comments

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3:18PM PDT on Oct 23, 2012

Thank you

8:45PM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

I'm not sure...... I just drink coffee

9:28AM PST on Jan 23, 2012

Drink a cup of coffee early in the morning mix with a egg.Its a good drink

6:10PM PST on Jan 11, 2012

just like any other drug taken for extended periods of time.. your body becomes acustomed to it and requires more to get to the desired level. Also headaches are a common withdrawal symptom.

1:46PM PST on Dec 29, 2011

Coffe and tea are a great boost for energy, including exercising.
But please, please, please buy organic fair trade tea and coffee.
You will be being good to your body AND the farmers who grow the
coffee beans and tea plants.

1:30PM PST on Dec 29, 2011

Thanks for this article, Eric, coffee and caffeine both have many benefits

4:25PM PST on Dec 24, 2011

Coffee always boosts focus and concentration; it's still beneficial to those who don't care for building endurance.
Why in the world did it develop such a bad reputation?

11:14AM PST on Dec 21, 2011

Interesting, if you are a workout junkie. I love my morning coffee, but have never thought of it as a substance to boost my endurance...

10:35AM PST on Dec 21, 2011

i don't drink coffee so i don't care that much about this article

10:33AM PST on Dec 21, 2011

i don't drink coffee so i don't care

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