We have all experienced that little boost from caffeine early in the morning as we start our working day, or later in the afternoon when we are beginning to flag after lunch.
However, scientists are finding that caffeine may have many health benefits, most of which are quite unexpected. Below are five of the most unexpected (but welcomed!) benefits to including caffeine as a regular part of your diet.
1) Pre and post-workout boost
Not only does caffeine perk you up before a big day in the gym, but it has also been shown to give your body a boost before and after workouts.
A study from 2014 in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that caffeine increased the levels of enjoyment from exercise that participants felt. This enjoyment and energy lead to higher numbers of calories being burned while exercising and lead to the participants consuming fewer calories after exercising.
Another study by the Journal of Applied Physiology found that athletes who consumed caffeine mixed with carbs had 66% more glycogen in their muscles after a strenuous workout. What does this mean? Well, glycogen is key because it helps muscles to function and fuels their use. This means that athletes with increased levels of glycogen can recover quicker after exercise.
While it is still uncertain, early studies suggest that caffeine may help to boost long-term memory. The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore ran a study of 160 participants between the ages of 18 and 30 years.
The study consisted of looking at pictures, taking a 200mg pill full of caffeine or a placebo, then looking at some more pictures the next day and identifying whether they were similar to before, old or new.
The study concluded that participants who took the caffeine pill were better at identifying similar pictures; however, both groups could identify old and new photos.
3) Sexual health
Studies have shown that caffeine may have multiple benefits for male sexual health as well. The University of Texas Medical School found that men who consumed caffeine had a lower risk of developing ED or erectile dysfunction.
While benefits were seen when men in the study consumed as little as 85mg of caffeine, men who consumed 250-375mg of caffeine a day had a significantly lower risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Also, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine found that men who consumed caffeine regularly had increased semen volume and healthier sperm.
4) Caffeine can reduce the risk of kidney stones
Recent studies have shown that individuals who regularly ingest caffeine have a lower risk of developing kidney stones. The large study (it followed 217,883 people) showed that people who consumed the highest amount of caffeine were at the lowest risk of developing stones.
5) Caffeine is good for heart health
A recent German study found that ingesting caffeine may promote heart health and actually strengthen the heart’s muscle cell function, while also prolonging the life of the heart muscle cells.
Now when you are having your daily caffeine hit, you can rest assured that you are also improving your memory, health, and wellbeing. Naturally, there are negative effects to consuming too much caffeine, but as long as you have it responsibly alongside a healthy lifestyle, you are improving your overall health.