Coffee can help athletes replenish energy, scientists discover


Sydney: Coffee helps athletes replenish vital energy nutrient, new research from Australia has found.

In a study published in the online edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology, scientists proved that glycogen — which is used for muscle energy during exercise — is replenished more quickly when athletes ingest both carbohydrate and caffeine following exhaustive exercise.

The study was done by eight researchers in Australia and John Hawley was the senior author.

“We think it’s working because whatever the caffeine has done, is create an environmental situation external to the muscle that is helping the muscle soak up like a sponge more glucose,” Hawley said in a phone interview.

The study was conducted on seven well-trained endurance cyclists who participated in four sessions. The participants first rode a cycle ergometer until exhaustion, and then consumed a low-carbohydrate dinner before going home. This exercise bout was designed to reduce the athletes’ muscle glycogen stores prior to the experimental trial the next day.

The athletes did not eat again until they returned to the lab the next day for the second session when they again cycled until exhaustion. They then ingested a drink that contained carbohydrate alone or carbohydrate plus caffeine and rested in the laboratory for four hours.

During this post-exercise rest time, the researchers took several muscle biopsies and multiple blood samples to measure the amount of glycogen being replenished in the muscle, along with the concentrations of glucose-regulating metabolites and hormones in the blood, including glucose and insulin.

The entire two-session process was repeated seven to 10 days later, swapping over the study groups.

“One of the things that the caffeine did was increase blood glucose and insulin levels above carbohydrate alone, so it has an additive effect,” said Hawley, who is with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Bundoora, Australia.

“Just think of the muscle looking for substrate to soak up. The muscle is depleted. Its job now is to put back fuel as quickly as it can. The only way that it can do that is to have fuel in the form of glucose in the blood. So the muscle is looking around and not seeing anymore glucose in the blood with caffeine, but it’s seeing more insulin.”

Insulin is the hormone that transports glucose into the muscle.

Hawley said multiple studies have shown the benefits of caffeine for athletes, whether it’s ingested before or during exercise.

“Caffeine is a positive performance enhancer for events as short as 5 minutes and right up to the Iron Man triathlon,” Hawley said. “It is a drug, so I’ll have to call it a drug, but it is legal. It is one of the few drugs that works over a wide range of performances.

“Most of the other drugs or food supplements or nutrients like creatine for example, only work in very short intense sprints or something like that. But caffeine is this mysterious one that appears to have multiple effects, and that’s because it has multiple physiological effects and central-nervous system effects.”

Hawley noted that some Tour de France riders switch to Coca-Cola during the last part of their stages. Frank Shorter, who won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, drank de-fizzed Coke during the race.

“He was light-year ahead of the scientists,” Hawley said. “He knew even then that some mixture of caffeine and carbohydrate was very, very good. … That shows that athletes are often a step or two ahead of us.”

Folic acid and creatine – potent new anti-wrinkle cream

Scientists have created a new anti-ageing cream containing a combination of cell-active Folic Acid and Creatine to target skin’s DNA.

According to manufacturer, Beiersdorf, the patent-pending formula called DNAge Cell Renewal stimulates skin cell renewal and that regular use also helps to protect the skin cells DNA against future external damage.As well as firming the skin there is also a decrease in wrinkles.

Folic Acid, a vitamin has been used in anti-aging and lip plumping products before but the scientists at Beiersdorf say they have discovered that this form of vitamin B is involved in DNA synthesis and cell turnover.
Creatine which is found naturally in the human body and helps energy levels is also available as an anti-ageing supplement. It is also used athletes and body builders to help build muscle mass.

The company reports that the two substances togetherimprove the skin cell turnover rate. Additional tests showed that after four weeks this effect led to a reduction in wrinkles and increased skin elasticity. The new discovery will be sold under the famous Nivea brand when it is launched this month in global markets.