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Does Coffee Increase Athletic Performance?

Coffee consumption is a big part of everyone's daily routine, where the average American drinks a whopping 3 cups of coffee daily. Caffeine is the most consumed psychoactive drug in the world, inhibiting several adenosine receptors in the body and stimulating the nervous system. It increases alertness, mental activity, and concentration.

So, is it a good idea to drink one of those caffeinated drinks at your gym to get a little boost during a workout? As someone who spent over 15 years in professional tennis and played at NCAA Division I schools, I wouldn't discourage you from having a regular cup of coffee, but having a caffeinated drink during a workout is a definite NO.

Here is why:

  1. Your muscles are 79% water, and consistent hydration is a must, especially during an intensive workout. Caffeine stimulates urination by depleting the body of electrolytes like sodium (which keeps you nicely hydrated). As a result, caffeine consumption during an intense workout leads to dehydration, muscle soreness, cramping, and sometimes even vomiting.

  2. Your bones are 99% calcium. Caffeinated drinks pretty much always come in a carbonated form containing phosphoric acid. Besides coffee leaching out calcium, phosphoric acid increases calcium excretion in urine. As a result, if you drink caffeinated drinks and have intense workouts, you increase your risk for fractures and osteoporosis.

  3. Your bones are 60% magnesium. Caffeine doesn't directly deplete magnesium; it decreases the intestinal absorption of magnesium, and low magnesium levels also reduce the amount of calcium in your body. The more coffee you drink, the less magnesium your intestines can absorb. This becomes more important as you get older, as magnesium absorption typically decreases with age. Read more about how almost everyone is magnesium deficient here.

  4. It's not a secret that an intense workout increases your pulse and blood pressure. Even though the latest research disproves caffeine increasing the chances of arrhythmia, it doesn't disprove overdosing on caffeine and potentially having a cardiac arrest during a workout. If you have more than 400mg of caffeine daily, it is already considered an overdose. 400mg of caffeine is equal to just 2 Ventis from Starbucks.

  5. Caffeinated drinks are loaded with added sugars. Added sugars increase inflammation and blood pressure, are not good for your liver, and stink in general.

So how do you increase athletic performance? Easy - fast carbs, glucose, sodium, B vitamins, and a few cool supplements. So, if you wanted to make your own amazing endurance drink, here is the recipe:

  • Make peppermint tea with 16 oz of water (2 cups), chill it

  • In a blender:

    • Add 1 banana & 1 cup of spinach with peppermint tea

    • 1 scoop of chocolate powder

    • 1 scoop of ginseng powder

    • Add 1/2 tbs of salt

    • 2 tbs of agave nectar

And remember - ALWAYS stay hydrated!


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