Caffeine for Recovery?

Caffeine for Recovery?

📅November 11th, 2014, 18:46

We’ve all heard about the benefits of consuming caffeine before workouts and competitions to improve athletic performance. We use caffeine as a wake-up call for our early morning training routines, and in certain long-distance events we even use it during our races. But what about using caffeine after exercise as a recovery tool? With hundreds of studies on caffeine consumption before and during exercise, there have not been many studies on consumption after exercise until recently.

Published in the Journal of Applied Physiology,a group of researchers in Australia studied the effects of co-ingestion of caffeine and carbohydrate after hard training on muscle glycogen stores (Journal of Applied Physiology, May 2008). Glycogen is simply the storage form of glucose in the body. Athletes need to replenish muscle glycogen stores after a hard workout session in order to start the muscle recovery process. Since caffeine consumed during exercise and before exercise increases the availability of glucose, the same could be true when caffeine is consumed after exercise-induced glycogen depletion.  What was eventually found in the study was that after 4 hours of recovery, the glycogen level of the carbohydrate-plus-caffeine group of athletes was 66%  higher than the group that consumed a meal of carbohydrate with no caffeine.

Knowing this information changes our outlook on caffeine and how we may consume it in the future. Instead of just consuming caffeine before and during physical activity, we can now justify drinking a double shot Americano with our post workout lunch. That being said, be sure to know how you handle caffeine and whether you have any health conditions that could be triggered by increased caffeine consumption. It is also important to note that caffeine hinders the body’s absorption of iron. I know it is tempting, but try not to drink coffee with every meal. Just know that caffeine doesn’t stop helping your performance once you’ve stopped exercising.