Sunday, January 16, 2011

Caffeine and Workout

The main ingredient in coffee that gives us that jolt is caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant. Caffeine is found naturally in coffee beans, tea leaves, and chocolate, and is a popular added ingredient in carbonated beverages and some over-the-counter medications such as cold remedies, diuretics, aspirin, and weight control aids. It is estimated that in the U.S., 75% of caffeine intake comes from coffee.

Getting juiced on caffeine doesn't put gas in the tank. Registered dietician Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine in Pittsburgh, recommends pairing your coffee with oatmeal or a small bagel with peanut butter before you exercise to avoid cramps). "Drinking coffee black with a small snack provides the fluid you need for hydration as well as the carbohydrate, sugar and sodium that the body needs to sustain itself," she says.

In addition to various psychological and physiological benefits, numerous studies have documented caffeine’s ergogenic effect on athletic performance, particularly in regard to endurance. Studies show that caffeine ingestion prior to exercising extended endurance in moderately strenuous aerobic activity. Other studies researching caffeine consumption on elite distance runners and distance swimmers show increased performance times following caffeine consumption.

A cup of coffee that many cyclists, runners and other athletes drink before a workout or a competition, does much more than just energize them. According to the scientists, caffeine kills some of the pain of athletic exertion by blocking the receptors that make the brain aware of muscle strain.

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