Coffee can help us fuel up for the day, stay focused, and be productive. But perhaps can it also improve our athletic performance?
Here are six professional athletes who drink coffee as part of their diets.
Professional competitive swimmer Michael Phelps is the most successful and decorated Olympian of all time, having 23 gold medals, 2 silver, and 1 bronze. He is infamously also known to have one of the craziest diets during his training where he eats six times as many calories as the recommended daily amount.
Phelps revealed that his breakfast during training consisted of egg sandwiches, two cups of coffee, grits, french toast, and pancakes. Yes, that was only his first meal of the day. Talk about a big breakfast. Ironically, after his many victories in the Beijing Olympics (2008), his diet mostly consisted of protein heavy and nutrient rich foods. For breakfast, Phelps usually had coffee, fruit, oatmeal, and an omelette with five eggs.
Ronda Rousey became the very first female fighter of the UFC in 2010, and has been a fighter on the WWE since 2018. During her time as a UFC fighter, she won 86% of the fights she has competed in. Unlike Phelps, Ronda Rousey maintains the recommended daily intake of calories (about 2,000 calories).
During her training, Rousey follows The Dolce Diet which aims to reduce body fat and build muscle based on your personal goals and preferences. Ronda says she doesn not usually count calories, and when she is not training she eats a chia a bowl and makes her own cup of coffee for breakfast to take to the gym. Interestingly enough, Rousey typically blends up butter, stevia, and coconut oil into her coffee.
Nicknamed “The Notorious,” Conor McGregor is a professional mixed martial arts and boxer from Ireland. So far during his UFC career, he has won 85% of his fights. Martial arts and boxing require a lot of strength and mass from your body. A diet for fighters can be significantly different than another athlete because of the demands of the sport.
In other words, you would not see a gymnast and wrestler training and eating to have the same body. For McGregor, he needs to pack in foods that have a lot of protein, nutrients, and very specific carbohydrates. His breakfast consists of eggs, salmon, fruits, veggies, and a nice cup of coffee. McGregor’s preferred coffee style is Americano (shot of espresso and water) to help him get his day started.
Nicknamed “Speedgoat,” Karl Meltzer is an ultra runner, Red Bull athlete, and Wings For Life World Run ambassador. He has held the record for most wins in a 100 mile ultramarathon on earth. Karl has been running since 1990 and coaching others since 2007. Needless to say, this guy knows how to keep a good pace. For breakfast, Meltzer revealed that he usually has a cup of coffee with whipped cream. Yes, whipped cream. He explains that whipped cream has real cream, compared to half and half, so there are actual calories he can take in. With his coffee, Meltzer also has toast with either butter or jam.
Jamie McMurray is a former professional NASCAR driver, finishing his career in February 2019 placing 22nd place. During his 17 year career, McMurray competed in over 500 races and won 63 of them. Even after ending his NASCAR career, he continued his athletic journey and pursued both running and cycling. On a typical day, McMurray usually changes up what he eats for breakfast such as yogurt and fruit. But one thing he always has is his coffee.
Natalie Coughlin is a professional competitive swimmer. During her career, Coughlin has won 12 Olympic medals and even returned to compete in 2019 after a 3 year break. In 2016, she revealed that during her training, she usually has coffee with half and half first thing in the early morning to help her wake up.
If that wasn’t enough, here are just a few more athletes who also have coffee in their diets:
- Sue Bird, WNBA Star
- Andre Drummond, NBA player
- Jessica Hardy, Olympic Swimmer and Gold Medalist
- Meyers Leonard, NBA player
Benefits of Coffee for Athletes
When you think about the type of beverages athletes probably drink, the first things that come to your mind are protein shakes, smoothies, water, and energy drinks. However, coffee can actually provide many health benefits not just for athletes, but for anyone.
A few benefits of coffee for athletes include:
- Limits the amount of pain you may have during and after workout
- Gives you more energy after a workout
- Delays when you feel tired post-exercise
Apart from that, coffee is also known to lower the risk of death, improve memory, and even protect against Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and liver cancer. If you are trying to lose weight, coffee is known to control your appetite and even improve your metabolism. Similar to tea, coffee is also low in calories when consumed without any sweeteners. Of course, this doesn not mean you should down 10 cups of coffee in the morning. Moderation is always the best practice for anything we eat or drink.
So next time you eat before working out, you might want to consider making yourself a cup of joe. Of course, each person responds differently to coffee and caffeine, so you shouldn’t expect to be the next Michael Phelps. But who knows, maybe coffee is the key to success.
If you are an athlete that “rises and grinds” early in the morning, you might not have time to brew a cup of coffee for your diet. You might be a student athlete, runner, cyclist, swimmer, or “gym before work” kind of person. Instead of brewing coffee, you can try instant coffee as an alternative, which can take significantly less time and effort to get you out the door in the morning.