Drinking lots of coffee after a strenuous workout while consuming fuel-replenishing carbohydrates can help accelerate muscular recovery, according to a new study.

New research showed that athletes who consumed carbs and drank caffeine had 66 per cent more glycogen in their muscles four hours after working out, versus athletes who consumed carbs alone.

Glycogen, or stored glucose, helps power muscles.

The study, conducted by Australian researchers and published in the July print issue of the journal of Applied Physiology, focused on seven endurance cyclists.

The athletes participated in four sessions, during which they first rode a cycle ergometer, an instrument that measures the amount of work done by muscles over a period of time, and then ate a low-carb dinner.

The following day, having not eaten since the night before, the athletes cycled until exhaustion. They then drank a caffeine- and carb-laced beverage or one with just carbs, and rested in the lab for four hours.

The caffeinated drink had caffeine levels equal to five or six cups of coffee.

Researchers then took muscle biopsies and blood samples from the athletes. Seven to 10 days later, the double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment was repeated, but the athletes who had formerly ingested only carbs were given carbs and caffeine to drink, and vice-versa.

Caffeine may give competitive edge

The researchers discovered that in the four hours after consuming the drinks, the athletes who had ingested the caffeine beverages had higher levels of blood glucose and insulin, as well as 66 per cent more glycogen, than those who drank the carb-only beverage.

As well, they found that more signalling proteins ,which help transport glucose to muscles, were elevated in the subjects who drank the caffeinated beverage.

The researchers believe drinking caffeine after a workout can give athletes a competitive edge.

"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," said Dr. John Hawley, the study's senior author, in a release.

The research did not determine why caffeine increases glucose uptake by the muscles.