New research suggests that the best way to refuel muscles after workout is to grab a cup of joe along with carbs.
According to the new study by Melbourne scientists, pairing caffeine with food dramatically boosts the body's levels of glycogen, the main fuel source for muscles.
The findings, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, offered Australia's Olympic competitors a new way to power up in preparation for the Beijing Olympic Games, said lead researcher John Hawley of RMIT University.
The research found athletes who added caffeine to their post-exercise meal had 66 per cent more glycogen in their muscles than those who ate only carbohydrates.
"If you have 66 per cent more fuel for the next day's training or competition, there's no question you'll be able to go further and faster," News.com.au quoted Professor Hawley, who heads the university's Exercise Metabolism Group, as saying.
The study is the first to show that the combination of coffee and carbs can be used afterwards to help muscles refuel more rapidly.
The research involved four assessment trials with seven endurance cyclists who were given either a plain carbohydrate drink or one containing the caffeine equivalent of six strong cups of coffee.
The cyclists rode a cycle ergometer until exhaustion. Four hours later those who had consumed the drink containing caffeine had 66 per cent higher glycogen levels in their muscles compared to those who had the carbohydrate-only drink.
Hawley said the research could help elite sportspeople looking for an edge over their competitors.
"But because caffeine can potentially have negative effects - such as disturbing sleep or causing the jitters - athletes who want to incorporate it into their recovery routines should experiment and see what works for them well before any serious competitions," he said.