Katarina Witt, an Olympic gold-medal figure skater, says, “When I get up, I have a cup of coffee, surf the internet, then do a half-hour run.” Olympic marathoner Shalane Flanagan once declared: “I wouldn’t go to the line without a cup of coffee. On our team, we joke that coffee is our PED (performance-enhancing drug).”

Researchers from the University of Granada, who recently published a study on the effect of caffeine on fat oxidation during athletic performance, agree that those athletes are maximizing their performance.

Their study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, shows drinking a strong cup of coffee 30 minutes before working out in the morning boosts your intensity by 11% and increases your maximal fat oxidation by 10.7%; in the afternoon it boosts workout intensity by 13% and fat oxidation by 29%.

Fat oxidation is how your body delivers fuel to the cells and powers performance — not to mention that it’s how it gets rid of excess body fat once other sources of fuel have been used up.

That’s why fat loss can increase if you work out on an empty stomach. So brew some joe before your next bout of exercise.

Tip: Brewing coffee by using paper filters keeps cholesterol-boosting phytochemicals out of your cup. A Norwegian study found that drinking filtered coffee lowers your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or stroke compared to drinking unfiltered coffee. Also, don’t add inflammatory sugars, flavorings or fatty milks to your coffee.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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