Learning that coffee is linked to longer lifespans was certainly a highlight of 2017. Researchers discovered that high coffee consumption levels were correlated with lower mortality rates, ensuring that morning sips are here to stay.

If you’re just drinking it black, though, you might be selling yourself short. Sure, the initial caffeine jolt could get you up and over Hero Walls, but what if you could get your coffee to work as hard as you do? These protein add-ons and body-beneficial add-ins will get you tackling your training. If you’re scheduled for a Tough Mudder event in 2019, start incorporating these hacks right now and find the ones that work for you.

1. Get The Timing Right

According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cortisol levels (aka your body’s natural energy boost) peak at a few key times of day. When you habitually drink coffee during these cortisol-producing times, you ironically replace your body’s cortisol, rather than bolster it. That being said, you’ll get your best energy payoff between 10am and noon, as well as between 2pm and 5pm. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon slumps won’t know what hit ‘em; plan those gym sessions accordingly.

2. Remember: Combo’s Count

Another reason to refrain from drinking coffee first thing in the morning is the effect it can have on your gastrointestinal situation. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach, researchers found, causes some pretty uncomfortable indigestion due to the high levels of acid. So eat your breakfast, and then grab your mug at around 10:30am or so

3. Get Your Green Protein In

Matcha lattes, step aside. Spirulina is greener, tastes earthier, and might even be healthier where powdered plants are concerned. The potent algae contains all of the body’s necessary amino acids and has, you guessed it, tons of protein. Just a tablespoon of the stuff yields 4 grams, putting it right on par with peanut butter.

4. Stay Away From Unhealthy Sugars

Artificial sweeteners are pretty much blacklisted from a nutritional standpoint. Stick with something a little more natural and opt for coconut sugar, agave syrup, or maybe even maple syrup. Though you should still definitely use them sparingly, natural sweeteners tend to have a lower glycemic index (GI) than their fake alternatives, meaning that you won’t suffer that mid-afternoon sugar crash that can tank your training.

5. Spice It Up… Literally

Though trendy turmeric-coconut milk beverages threaten to unseat coffee from its throne, you can actually put all the ingredients together and make a mega-drink. While training hard, your body is at risk of inflammation. To stop your joints from aching so deeply, just work some turmeric into your morning joe. Bonus tip: sprinkle some black pepper (sounds weird, but roll with it) to maximize your body’s ability to absorb the powdered, yellow spice

6. Enhance The Joe With Electrolytes

Want a way to make your iced coffee more effective? Add some coconut water to your cold brew — all-natural sweetener optional. Cold brew coffee can be pretty intense, so the watered-down version might be a welcomed alternative. When you sweat, you lose necessary electrolytes, and coconut water can help replenish those.

7. Make It A Fiber & Protein-Packed Shake

If you prefer a hint of coffee flavor rather than some intense coconut cold brew, create a shake: add banana, ice, coffee, peanut butter, and some Vega protein powder. BOOM. You’re awake, all fueled up, and on track to crush your next obstacle — too bad you can’t army crawl with a thermos in your hand.

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