Caffeine Reduces Muscle Burning During Intense Exercise

Researchers at the University of Illinois report that 300 mg of caffeine (the amount in four cups of coffee) reduces muscle burning during intense exercise in both regular coffee drinkers and in those who do not drink coffee at all (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, April 2009). One of the researchers, Robert Motl, PhD, says that caffeine blocks spinal nerves that transmit pain messages to the brain. This means that people can exercise longer because they feel less pain.

Athletes take caffeine because they know it helps them to exercise longer. When muscles run out of their stored muscle sugar, they have to burn more fat which requires more oxygen. Lack of oxygen is the limiting factor in how fast and hard you can exercise over long periods of time. When you run low on oxygen, lactic acid accumulates in the muscles, which makes muscles more acidic, causing the burning that you feel in tired muscles. However, caffeine helps to delay the burning by causing muscles to burn more fat so they can preserve the sugar stored in muscles and you can exercise longer without accumulating large amounts of lactic acid.

Another interesting study from Iran showed that omega-3 fatty acids lessened delayed onset muscle soreness that occurs 48 hours after exercise in untrained men (Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, March 2009).


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