Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/@jopwell

Post exercise caffeine helps muscles refuel, Study finds !!

After a long tiring workout, you might be waiting to gulp down your favorite energy drink or probably refreshing drink as a way of rewarding yourself after such an intense workout. But after reading this article you might want to switch drinks for something, only this time a little more caffeine oriented. Try grabbing your favorite coffee drink and have a nice long sip.  This time researchers have found out that caffeinated drinks may help in refueling the muscles after a long tiring workout.

A study found out that Glycogen, the muscle’s primary fuel source during exercise, is replenished more rapidly when athletes ingested both carbohydrate and caffeine following an exhaustive workout.

Also, the athletes who ingested caffeine with carbohydrate had 66 percent more glycogen in their muscles for hours after completing an intense glycogen-depleting exercise compared to when they consumed carbohydrate alone. Read and find out more about this below.  

Caffeine aids Carbohydrate uptake !!

Through previous studies, researchers already knew that consuming carbohydrate and caffeine prior to and during exercise improved a variety of athletic performances. This was the first study to prove that caffeine combined with carbohydrates after a work out could help refuel the muscle much faster.

According to a researcher, if individuals had 66 percent more fuel for the next day’s training or competition, there was absolutely no question that the person could go farther and faster. Caffeine was found to be present in common foods and beverages including coffee, tea, chocolate and cola drinks.

The study 

The study was conducted on seven well-trained endurance cyclists who participated in four sessions. The individuals first rode a cycle ergometer until exhaustion and then consumed a low carbohydrate dinner before they went home. The exercise bout was designed to reduce the athletes’ muscle glycogen stores prior to the experimental trial the next day.

The athletes did not eat anything again until they returned to the alb the next day for the second session when they again cycled until exhaustion. The individuals then ingested a drink that contained carbohydrate alone or carbohydrate plus caffeine and rested in the laboratory for four hours 

During this post-exercise time, the researchers took several muscle biopsies and multiple blood samples to measure the amount of glycogen being replenished in the muscle along with the concentrations of glucose-regulating metabolites and hormones in the blood, including glucose and insulin.

The entire two sessions process was repeated for a period of seven to ten days after that. The only difference, in this case, was that this time the athletes drank the beverage that they had not consumed in the previous trial. To sum it up shortly, if the individuals drank the carbohydrate alone in the first trial, they drank the carbohydrate plus caffeine in the second trial and vice versa..

In both the cases, the drinks looked, smelled and tasted the same and both contained the same amount of carbohydrate. Neither the researchers nor the cyclists knew which regimen they were getting thus making it a double-blind placebo-controlled experiment.

Glucose and Insulin levels were higher with caffeine consumption

The researchers observed the following results -

  • One hour after the exercise, muscle glycogen levels had replenished to the same extent regardless of whether the athlete had the drink containing carbohydrate and caffeine or carbohydrate only.
  • Four hours after the exercise, the drink containing caffeine resulted in 66 percent higher glycogen levels compared to the carbohydrate-only drink.
  • Throughout the four hour recovery period, the caffeinated drink resulted in higher levels of blood glucose and plasma insulin.
  • Several signaling proteins was believed to have a crucial role in glucose transport into the muscle and were elevated to a greater extent after the athletes ingested the carbohydrate plus caffeine drink compared to the carbohydrate-only drink. 

According to a researcher, it wasn’t clear as to how caffeine aides in facilitating glucose uptake from the blood into the muscles. Howe ever they suspect that higher circulating blood glucose and plasma insulin levels were likely to be the prime factor. 

In addition to that, caffeine was also likely to increase the activity of several signaling enzymes, including the calcium-dependent protein kinase and protein kinase B (also referred to as akt) which have roles in muscle glucose uptake during and after the exercise.

A lower dosage may be the next step !!

In this study, the researchers used a high dose of caffeine to find out if they could help the muscles convert ingested carbohydrates to glycogen more rapidly. However because caffeine was known to have potentially negative effects such as disturbing sleep or causing jitteriness, researchers felt that the next step would be to determine whether smaller doses of caffeine could accomplish the same goal. 

One of the researchers pointed out that the responses to caffeine ingestion varied widely between individuals. It was found that several of the athletes in the study said that they had a difficult time sleeping in the night after the trial in which they ingested caffeine (8 mg per kilogram of body weight which was the equivalent of drinking 506 cups of strong coffee) while several others fell asleep during the recovery period and reported to have no adverse effects. 

The Conclusion

The researchers concluded by saying that the Athletes who wanted to incorporate caffeine into their workout schedules should experiment during training sessions well in advance of an important competition to find out what worked out for the best.

Another tip from the researchers to the people who indulge themselves in a serious tiring workout was a simple recipe that could help them to recover more quickly from the exercise stress. 

  • Finish the workout
  • Eat a delicious meal of pasta
  • And finally, wash down with five or six cups of strong coffee.

The research was carried out by Dr Hawley , David J.Pedersen from the Gar van Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia and a group of several researchers.