Coffee: The secret ergogenic


“No sugar tonight in my coffee. No sugar tonight in my tea.” – Guess Who

I wasn’t like most 5 year olds growing up. I used to wake up at 3 a.m., not because I was scared and had to go sleep with my mommy and daddy, or had to go to the bathroom or anything. That was my daily routine. That’s when I woke up. Why was a 5 year old up at this time? I gotta tell you, it was 1967, and anyone old enough can tell you that television would kick off at around midnight. It wasn’t because I wanted to play video games. Those weren’t really invented yet. No, I didn’t have any kind of sleep apnea. I woke up so I could hang with the greatest man on the planet, my grandfather. My parents’ house and my grandparents’ house seemed like inches away. Once I woke up, I walked across the yard. My grandfather was wide awake making grits and eggs and enjoying his first cup of coffee of the day. As I walked in, he would never even say good morning, he would give me a knowing smile and pour me a cup of French roast coffee with mostly milk. I would eat breakfast with him. Sometimes he would tell me stories about when he was a kid. Often we would play a south Louisiana card game called Bourre. He would leave for work at 5 a.m. I would walk back home, get into bed and sleep for another two hours until it was time to wake up and go to kindergarten. Two things happened back then. I learned that waking up before the sun was a virtue. I also learned that coffee was the best beverage on the planet. I often said that if a doctor told me I had to stop drinking coffee I would kill myself. That’s not really true. The real answer is, I would keep drinking coffee until it killed me. I told you that to tell you this. You always hear negative things about coffee. Sometimes I’ll offer to buy someone a cup and they’ll say that they’re trying to cut back. Doctors will tell you to cut back on coffee. There’s always negatives around what I consider to be one of the world’s most perfect beverages. In reality, coffee is good for you and beats the competition. Case in point, coffee against any soda on the market…coffee is the clear winner. Coffee versus alcoholic beverages…coffee comes out way ahead. Obviously when you pick coffee over those products, of course it will look good. You know what? Coffee is even better than that. Coffee is an ergogenic aid. What do I mean by this? Coffee can and will enhance athletic performance, in both speed and long distance events. In simple terms, in long distance events, caffeine will allow your body to utilize fat for energy and store glycogen. As most ultra athletes and triathletes will tell you, this is a definite advantage late in a race. There’s no shortage to the benefits of coffee, including in most studies, lowering the risk of diabetes. Keep in mind though that too much of a good thing is bad. Studies have shown that more than 700 mg of caffeine can have an adverse effect during exercise or competition. As a rule of thumb, two cups of coffee is all you need.

Sophia Loren...also an ergogenic