2. Caffeine (methylxanthine)
A little jolt has been linked to a whole slew of health benefits, from improving alertness to lowering risk for cancer, but it’s also one of the best—if not the best—researched ergogenic aids available today, says Rehan Jalali, certified sports nutritionist and president of the Supplement Research Foundation. Several studies have shown caffeine helps promote fat oxidation—or your body’s ability to break down large fat molecules to use as energy—as well as both weight and fat loss in active people, he adds. Whereas most of the health benefits come from its antioxidants, caffeine helps you lose fat by stimulating your central nervous system. This encourages the release of several molecules and nutrients in your body, including stored fat to be burned for energy and calcium to help muscle contraction. Plus it can help you work out harder: In a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology last year, guys who ingested caffeine before a workout burned more calories during, ate less calories after, and actually enjoyed their gym time more than when they hit the weights without the kick. But cap your daily intake at 400 mg—too much of a jolt can increase anxiety, your risk of cardiovascular disease, and insulin sensitivity which can actually cause you to gain weight.
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