There you are again. Sitting in a locker room, having maxed out your squat at 525lbs, firmly in the middle of a plateau. Feeling dispirited, defeated, worthless, useless. A chlorine blue hypodermic needle on the bench before you, fat as your finger and loaded up with choice horse steroids. It’s the only way to go. Juice up, get ripped, and enhance your performance. It’s the only way–or is it?!? Perhaps there are other, more natural means to achieving your goal, to breaking through plateau’s and realizing your full potential. So for now, hold off on the horse steroids, and read on. Maybe the next few words on Vitamin D and latte’s could change your life.

Common wisdom and our mothers tell us to avoid the sun, that it will age us, give us cancer, bleach our hair and blind our eyes. However, a review of studies from the 1950’s to today show that a surprisingly large number of people–including athletes–are suffering from Vitamin D deficiency, which we humans derive from the sun. Why should you care? Because if you are Vitamin D deficient, then boosting your Vitamin D levels could in turn boost your athletic performance. And that means no need for horse tranquilizers.

What does Vitamin D do for you? A lot. Research suggests that athletic performance peaks seasonally, that they’re doing well when sunrays are strong, and down when they’re weak. A few research trials found that vitamin D improved neuromuscular functioning, including balance, reaction time muscle strength and bone density in those lacking vitamin D. Also, some research suggests that vitamin D can improve the number of fast twitch muscle fibers. The benefits continue: vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and helps form strong bones, whereas a vitamin D deficiency can weaken bones and muscles.

So what can you do about it? If you’re a dark skinned individual, live up north or an indoor athlete, the best thing you can do is get a little sun. While you can get vitamin D through your diet via fish, eggs, fortified milk, a Shakeology shake and cod liver oil, the best way to acquire it is through 10 to 15 minutes of non-sunblocked sun exposure from between 10am and 3pm twice a week. That’s it! Just get your face outside, smile at the sun, and bask in its warmth for a quarter of an hour.

Coffee. This dark drink does wonders. The University of Illinois found that consuming coffee before a work-out may lessen muscle pains in moderate to high intensity workouts. They had college aged men who drank and didn’t drink coffee take caffeine one hour before a cardio exercise, and discovered that those who did had a 48% reduction in pain in their quad muscles, compared to those in the placebo group. This was regardless of whether the subject drank or did not drink coffee, suggesting that there’s no tolerance effect.

So coffee, yes! Less pain, faster recovery, plus that caffeine high can help you perform better while actually in the throes of working out. Should you replace water with coffee? No way, you need to stay hydrated, but a little cup of joe before a workout can make a world of difference.

So cheer up, and cast aside all thoughts of horse steroids. With just a little Vitamin D and a latte you can experience significant benefits, and all of it 100% legal. With that kind of information, what’s not to like?