For years, coffee and tea have gotten a bad rap. Health professionals have scolded those who choose to indulge in a morning cup of joe, stating that the caffeine was dehydrating and was linked to heart palpitations. However, with more research, the benefits of drinking coffee and tea have now come to light. Here is why drinking coffee or tea may actually be beneficial to the endurance or high-intensity athlete.
Benefits of Coffee
The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee tends to be close to 60-70mg for coffee bought at a gas station or similar location and can be as high as 130mg for coffee bought at a high-end coffee shop. Aside from caffeine, coffee is full of health-promoting antioxidants. Antioxidants are also found in foods such as dark fruits and vegetables; they help the body "clean up" the muscle of free radicals after exercise. In addition, research has linked drinking coffee to a decreased risk of developing diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and certain cancers as well as depression. The mechanism behind these protective effects has yet to be determined.
Benefits of Tea
Compared with coffee, tea is significantly lower in caffeine per cup (closer to 30mg per cup). Tea - particularly green tea - provides a fantastic dose of polphyenols, which is also a type of antioxidant. High-dose supplementation of green tea capsules, pills and powders is not beneficial, but including a cup or two per day is a great idea. Benefits of tea include a reduction in circulating triglycerides in the body, a decreased risk for certain cancers, a reduced risk for heart disease, and improved insulin sensitivity (important for blood sugar regulation). Research also suggests a potential moderate increase in fat oxidation at rest and during exercise with tea intake.
Benefits of Both
Regardless of which caffeinated beverage you prefer, both provide the following benefits to those participating in high-intensity and endurance-based activities:
- Increased concentration and focus
- Increased blood flow to exercising muscles, delivering more oxygen for better performance
- Decrease feeling of exhaustion, which may lead to better times and overall performance
Like anything, of course there is a cap on how much is too much. However, when enjoyed in moderation, coffee or tea is a great addition to an athlete's performance diet. Cheers!
Source: Griffin, D. Benefits of Coffee and Tea. 2015.
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