Is It Ok To Drink Coffee And Exercise? Serena Williams Did And It Worked Flawlessly
Athletes are people like the rest of us, who go to work and are tired and cranky and need caffeine to keep themselves from becoming drool-covered zombies. And though our gut instinct isn't sure how well coffee mixes with strenuous exercise in 111-degree temperatures (she was playing in Australia), it clearly worked for Serena Williams, seeing as she lost her first set 0-6, then went 6-3, 6-0 after not-so-secretly downing an espresso on the sideline.
“I was just feeling it, so I just had to get some coffee into me. I just asked them to get me a shot of espresso — I asked them if it was legal, because I’ve never done it before. I needed to wake up.”
So is it actually a good idea to drink coffee in the middle of physical activity, or was this just a fluke? As recently as this last summer, Health.com -- a reputable source for information on the human body, we assume -- actually touted the benefits of introducing the brown stuff into your workout regimen.
Recent Japanese research studied the effects of coffee on circulation in people who were not regular coffee drinkers. Each participant drank a 5-ounce cup of either regular or decaffeinated coffee. Afterward, scientists gauged finger blood flow, a measure of how well the body’s smaller blood vessels work. Those who downed “regular” (caffeinated) coffee experienced a 30% increase in blood flow over a 75-minute period, compared to those who drank the “unleaded” (decaf) version. Better circulation, better workout—your muscles need oxygen!
Scientists at the University of Illinois found that consuming the caffeine equivalent of two to three cups of coffee one hour before a 30-minute bout of high-intensity exercise reduced perceived muscle pain. The conclusion: caffeine may help you push just a little bit harder during strength-training workouts, resulting in better improvements in muscle strength and/or endurance.
A study published this year from Johns Hopkins University found that caffeine enhances memory up to 24 hours after it’s consumed. Researchers gave people who did not regularly consume caffeine either a placebo, or 200 mg of caffeine five minutes after studying a series of images. The next day, both groups were asked to remember the images, and the caffeinated group scored significantly better. This brain boost may be a real boon during workouts, especially when they entail needing to recall specific exercises or routines.
In an animal study, sports scientists at Coventry University found that caffeine helped offset the loss of muscle strength that occurs with aging. The protective effects were seen in both the diaphragm, the primary muscle used for breathing, as well as skeletal muscle. The results indicate that in moderation, caffeine may help preserve overall fitness and reduce the risk of age-related injuries.
More muscle fuel
A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that a little caffeine post-exercise may also be beneficial, particularly for endurance athletes who perform day after day. The research found that compared to consuming carbohydrates alone, a caffeine/carb combo resulted in a 66% increase in muscle glycogen four hours after intense, glycogen-depleting exercise. Glycogen, the form of carbohydrate that gets stockpiled in muscle, serves as a vital energy “piggy bank” during exercise, to power strength moves, and fuel endurance. Packing a greater reserve means that the very next time you work out, you’ve upped your ability to exercise harder and/or longer.
Wait, so this means we can't use the "I'm too tired to workout" excuse anymore? Screw you and your junk science, Health.com. We're taking a nap.
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