The new study was carried out by researchers at Coventry University, who found a strong cup of coffee an hour before a competitive one mile running race can improve performance times in trained runners by almost 2 per cent.
Studies in the past have found coffee to have a host of health benefits, from weight loss to lowering the risk of dying from cancer, heart disease and stroke.
But how exactly does coffee enhance sports performance and can the findings of the study be applied to an everyday gym workout?
Express.co.uk spoke to the study’s author, Dr Neil Clarke, to find out the wider science behind coffee’s effect on sports performance.
What is it in coffee that could enhance sports performance?
“The European Food Safety Authority concludes there is an association between caffeine consumption and improved endurance performance, stamina, as well as perceived effort during exercise. There is also evidence to suggest that caffeine can improve muscle soreness and recovery.
“What was different about my study is that it considered caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption.
“Although best results were seen with caffeinated coffee, there was still an improvement in running times after decaffeinated coffee.
“This suggests that some of the many other compounds in coffee may also help to improve sports performance, but further research would be require to pinpoint these.”
Why has coffee been found to have this affect?
Dr Clarke explained that while the positive effects of caffeine are understood, exactly why remains inconclusive.
He said: “In addition to individual genetic responses, current research suggests that caffeine improves endurance performance by blocking the adenosine receptors in the brain which alert us to tiredness.
“This leads to an increased production of adrenalin and enables the muscles to produce more force, enabling one to perform better, yet feel as if they’re exerting less energy.”
What sports could coffee benefit?
Dr Clarke said: “Performance benefits aren’t limited to trained athletes or to running. Research suggests that moderate amounts of caffeine can improve performance across a range of stop-and-go team sports including football and rugby, racquet sports, as well as sustained high-intensity activity such as swimming and rowing.”
Is a strong coffee before the gym recommended and would it enhance your performance?
Dr Clarke said: “A strong cup of black coffee before the gym could help enhance short term high intensity exercise on the treadmill or bike for example. It could also help you to lift heavier weights due to its ability to reduce muscle soreness.”
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