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The Caffeine Fix: Press Beyond Your Limits with Coffee

Believe it or not, coffee is one of the best health drinks out there—and it can even improve your athletic performance. Here's why you should drink up.

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When it's a predictable ingredient in hundreds of sports nutrition products, it's hard to believe that back in the ’70s and even the ’80s, caffeine was seen as something of an evil, due in no small part to its association with soft drinks and the (laughable) fact that many researchers hadn’t taken into account that many of the subjects who took part in coffee studies were also smokers.

Modern, more competent research, however, is setting the record straight; to date, caffeine’s scientifically proven benefits include the ability to extend endurance, enhance performance, increase testosterone, decrease cortisol, boost strength, sharpen focus, and bolster memory retention. A Spanish study was even able to show that caffeine can affect the body’s circadian rhythms, allowing us to train early in the morning with the same intensity as we would later in the day, when the body’s neuromuscular system is fully activated.

Everyone from cyclists to weightlifters stands to benefit from caffeine, and the vehicles for caffeine consumption are numerous. But, apart from caffeine, coffee has been shown to have some unique benefits of its own, with studies linking it to reduced risk of heart failure and certain kinds of cancer. Even coffee’s aroma can help us de-stress, according to an 2008 study on rats published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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