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Elite Athletes Turn to Caffeine for a Leg Up

Long used as a secret weapon by triathletes and marathoners for increased performance, caffeine is now gaining popularity with other athletes, from Olympic competitors to jujitsu practitioners, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ingested before or during exercise as a cup of coffee, caffeinated gel, or gum, caffeine is widely believed to enhance athletic performance. The use of caffeine as a legal performance enhancer is relatively new: Prior to 2004, caffeine use was banned in international competitions. The World Anti-Doping Agency lifted the ban when they found that caffeine no longer met at least two of three criteria for inclusion on the prohibited list. The criteria involve the substance’s potential to enhance sport performance, its health risk to athletes, or its violation of the sport’s spirit. This change enabled caffeine to become a big player in competitive sports: A 2011 study found that three out of four athletes had used it prior to competing.

While the research is a mixed bag, some evidence supports the trend, finding that caffeine does indeed improve endurance performance. Outside of the world of elite athletes, research has shown that coffee, in particular, may give your workouts a boost: Some research suggests that coffee could help reduce exercise induced muscle pain and increase your enjoyment of exercise. Other studies suggest that coffee could have health benefits such as reducing the risk of diabetes and certain cancers.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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