Why Olympic athletes will be sipping coffee in Rio

enhance-performance-athletes-olympics-coffeeWith all the recent media coverage about illegal performance-enhancing substances, it’s no wonder that the 11,000 athletes competing in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games will be playing it safe and sticking with the performance-enhancer they are allowed – caffeine. As well as refreshing a tired mind, caffeine can also enhance speed and stamina – not just for Olympic athletes, but for the rest of us too. The use of caffeine was limited at the Olympics in 1984, and athletes could even be disqualified if they’d swigged one latte too many and their urine contained more than 12 micrograms per millilitre of caffeine. The ban was lifted in 2004, and since then competitors have been allowed to drink as much coffee as they like.

Apparently, up to three quarters of world-class athletes use caffeine as part of their daily training regime. The caffeine in a single, regular sized cup can boost performance by up to 3 per cent, which could make all the difference in a competition at that level. As you can see benefits from such a small dose, the ban on caffeine was lifted as there was no difference between consuming coffee on an everyday level and consuming it for performance enhancement. Although athletes are still checked for caffeine levels, no action is taken on the results.

And recent research suggests up to three-fourths of the world’s elite athletes do just that. Six-time gold medallist cyclist Sir Chris Hoy is apparently so keen to make sure he gets a decent cup of coffee that he takes his own coffee machine and coffee bean grinder to competitions.

Coffee works by staving off feelings of fatigue by blocking the neuro-transmitter than induces sleep. That means you can concentrate for longer, and feel mentally and physically more alert. If you want to get the best from your coffee, drink a cup an hour before taking exercise to give time for the benefits to kick in.

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