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My kind of recovery

Comments (6)
By Peter Hadzipetros

It's been something of a typical afternoon here at the office. A second cup of coffee washing down a couple of bits of carbs from that coffee and donut shop across the street, a few hours after eating a lunch that contained a heaping helping of noodles.

Those carbs and that caffeine help me get ready for that commute home — a 13-kilometre or so run along Toronto's waterfront.

Caffeine and carbs - people much smarter than me say – will help me get through intense exercise and maybe even help me avoid developing skin cancer.

Caffeine, the science explains, offers the athlete the same boost as it does every sleepy-eyed person who tries to drag him or herself out of bed on a Monday morning. And carbs are what fuels your muscles.

Turns out I may have it all backwards.

A new study suggests that caffeine and carbs may be a better combination after your workout. Helps the body recover and get ready for your next exercise session, say Australian researchers.

They studied a small group of cyclists and found that four hours after an intense workout, the athletes who had ingested caffeine beverages had higher levels of blood glucose and insulin, as well as 66 per cent more glycogen, than those who drank a carb-only beverage. The caffeinated drink had caffeine levels equal to five or six cups of coffee.

"If you have 66 per cent more fuel for the next day's training or competition, there is absolutely no question you will go farther or faster," the study's senior author, Dr. John Hawley, said in a release.

The study did not explain how caffeine helps the muscles absorb more glycogen.

This could explain why you'll sometimes come across groups of runners or cyclists in your local coffee shop late on any given Sunday morning. It's the day of the week most of them prefer for their longest runs or rides. And sitting with your friends over a cup or so of java seems to help ease any lingering aches and pains from pushing your body more than usual.

And perhaps by adding something loaded with carbs to that post-run routine, I'll have enough energy — once I get home — to make it to the backyard and my hammock for a proper recovery.

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Comments (6)

brian

Calgary

I like these studies we can rationalise almost anything after reading them. Now if I can find a study that will tell me that it is a good thing to have a couple of ale`s after I work up a good sweat on the tread mill I will be very happy

Posted December 18, 2008 10:54 AM

Aly

Ontario

interesting. I wonder what implications this will have on low-carb diets. Dr Atkins, for example, recommended that people in the first stages of his diet eschew coffee and other caffeinated beverages. yet I always feel much better when I have my Tim's. maybe that jolt of caffeine does more than just stimulate me into action... maybe it also helps my body assimilate the measly 20 grams of carbs I get every day.

Posted July 19, 2008 05:48 AM

Johnny Longsleeves

Mississauga

Interesting article.

5-6 cups of coffee is a lot to ingest after a long run or ride. Don't be surprised if you start seeing chairs and tables popping up at your local variety store for athletes wanting a Red Bull on their way home.

Could this be a new fad..... You read it here first.

Posted July 8, 2008 10:12 AM

Melanie

Toronto

Funny, I was going to have that exact combination (some oatmeal and a sports drink) before the 16K run tonight (the one I was supposed to do yesterday ... uch!). So I'm wondering what I SHOULD be having?

Posted July 7, 2008 04:20 PM

Sab

Ontario

What about the effects of caffeine during a workout? A lot of exercise gels have caffeine in them, supposedly to help you go faster and work harder. Does this actually help in any way, I wonder?

Posted July 7, 2008 11:58 AM

Tired

Nanaimo

By the time work is done, the kids are picked up, supper is prepared, house hold chores are completed, time spent with the kids...then comes the gym after everybody else is ready for bed. By the end of the work out its too late to start thinking about coffee. I have to be at work for 6:30 so I guess the coffee and carbs just comes a little later.

Posted July 3, 2008 12:14 PM

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About the Author

Peter HadzipetrosPeter Hadzipetros is a producer for the Consumer and Health sites of CBC News Online. Until he got off the couch and got into long distance running a few years ago, he was a net importer of calories.

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