Ever wonder why so many over-the-counter cold and headache medicines contain caffeine? Studies show it enhances the effects of common painkillers such as aspirin and acetaminophen. But recent data suggest caffeine has pain-lowering powers of its own — at least when it comes to the pain associated with exercise. University of Georgia researchers showed that moderate doses of caffeine — equivalent to two cups of joe — reduced post-workout pain by almost 50 percent.
And a caffeine buzz may boost your workout. Caffeine seems to raise your pain threshold, making it easier to keep exercising or work out harder than you would have otherwise. Just don't overdo it. "If you are going to work out, get a cup of coffee on the way," Black says. "There's good evidence it makes your muscles feel better."
Recipe: Cold Coffee Smoothie
by Monica Bhide
2 scoops low-fat coffee ice cream
1 cup chilled skim milk
1 cup cracked ice
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee, plus more for garnish
Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a blender and blend well. Pour into 2 tall glasses. Garnish with a sprinkle of instant coffee and serve immediately.
Nutrients per serving: 117 calories, 6g protein, 13g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 5g fat, 15mg cholesterol, 90mg sodium