As a professional athlete, maximizing post-exercise recovery is crucial for maintaining peak performance. I’ve experimented with various recovery methods over the years, but drinking coffee with sweetened milk has consistently helped me recover quicker.
And recent research1 supports this approach, showing that coffee can improve glucose metabolism and promote glycogen resynthesis during recovery.
To explore the effects of coffee on post-exercise recovery, a study was conducted by the MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute) on 14 endurance-trained men. The participants first completed an exhaustive cycle ergometer exercise to deplete muscle glycogen.
The following morning, they underwent another cycling protocol and were given either a test beverage (coffee + milk) or a control (milk) during a 4-hour recovery period, along with a breakfast meal.
Blood samples and muscle biopsies were taken at the beginning and end of recovery.
The peer-reviewed results of the study were clear: consuming coffee and sweetened milk led to greater muscle glycogen recovery and a greater glucose and insulin response compared to the control group.
This means that adding coffee to a beverage with adequate amounts of carbohydrates increases muscle glycogen resynthesis and the glycemic and insulinemic response during the 4-hour recovery period after exercise.
Why Coffee Helps
Coffee contains several bioactive compounds, including caffeine, caffeic acid, and cafestol, which have been shown to improve glucose metabolism and promote glycogen resynthesis during recovery.
These compounds help the body absorb and utilize glucose more effectively, which can aid in the recovery process.
Nutritional Recommendations for Athletes
For athletes, following nutritional recommendations is critical to maximizing glycogen synthesis rate, especially during the early phase of recovery (0-4 hours) after exercise.
Consuming a beverage that includes coffee and sweetened milk can be an effective strategy for improving muscle glycogen recovery for those involved in cycling sports with a short recovery time or competitions with multiple and sequential bouts of exercise.
Coffee has long been recognized as a performance enhancer due to its caffeine content. However, recent research has shed light on the additional benefits of coffee, mainly for post-exercise recovery.
By adding coffee to a beverage with adequate carbohydrates, endurance athletes can enhance muscle glycogen recovery and improve their overall performance.
As for me, I’ll continue to enjoy my coffee with sweetened milk after my workouts, knowing that it’s helping me recover quicker and perform at my best.