The ideal pre-workout drink to enhance your performance: a drink containing both caffeine and carbohydrates, at least according to a new study on athletic performance.
Researchers at the U.K.'s Sheffield Hallam University carried out studies on soccer players fueling up with pre-game drinks containing both caffeine and carbohydrates. Along with improvements in endurance as a result of ingesting carbohydrates, the athletes' skill level improved by adding caffeine to the mix, according to the findings published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
"There is already plenty of research that shows that caffeine and carbohydrate improve endurance, but this study shows that there is also a positive effect on skill and performance," said researcher Mayur Ranchordas, a performance nutritionist at the university.
"This means that energy drinks such as Lucozade and Coca-Cola could be more effective as a performance aid than so-called 'sports drinks,'" writes the U.K. version of The Huffington Post.
Ranchordas and his team tested three different soccer simulations of 90 minutes each (two 45-minute sessions) that tested agility, dribbling, heading, and kicking accuracy.
"We found that the combination of carbohydrate and caffeine allowed players to sustain higher work intensity for the sprints, as well as improving shooting accuracy and dribbling," he added.
The best time to consume your caffeine/carb beverage? For team sports, the researchers said that it's best to imbibe a drink both before the start of the game and at half-time.
Another study published last month in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that volunteers performed about 16 percent better in soccer and basketball games if they had taken a caffeine capsule (containing the equivalent of five large cups of brewed coffee) 70 minutes beforehand.
After the game, previous research published in the same journal also reveals that consuming both caffeine and carbohydrates can help muscles recover more quickly from intense exercise. According to the study, glycogen, the muscle's primary fuel source during your workout, is replenished more quickly when athletes ingest both carbohydrates and caffeine following exhaustive workouts.