While coffee is often viewed as a legal and socially acceptable vice, various studies have concluded that coffee has a number beneficial effects, including boosting mood, providing antioxidants, and decreasing the risk of diabetes. Caffeine may also prove to be a superfood in terms of helping you get more out of your daily workout.
Effects of Coffee Before a Workout
A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that study participants who were given a moderate to high amount of caffeine before a workout increased the number of calories they burned by approximately 15 percent for up to 3 hours after the workout compared to subjects who only received a placebo. The benefits of coffee before a workout do not stop at burning more calories.
- Caffeine can improve circulation. One cup of coffee can increase blood flow by as much as 30 percent over the course of 75 minutes. Increased blood flow means more oxygen is delivered to your muscles during your workout, which may improve endurance.
- Two to three cups of coffee consumed an hour before high-intensity exercise may help reduce post-workout muscle pain. This may allow you to push a little harder, especially during strength training.
- Coffee can enhance cognitive function for up to 24 hours after it is consumed. This memory boost can help you recall specific exercise routines.
- Caffeine may slow or prevent the loss of muscle strength that is often associated with aging. This can reduce your risk of injuries and improve overall fitness.
Effects of Coffee After a Workout
The benefits of coffee after a workout are not as widely studied; however, there is evidence that post-exercise caffeine may help the body recover faster from intense exercise.
A combination of caffeine and carbohydrates can increase the level of glycogen stored in your muscles by as much as 60 percent over carbohydrates alone. Caffeine can also increase both glucose and insulin levels in the blood. The combined effect is similar to putting more gas into a car to feed the engine.
How to Reap the Most Rewards from Caffeine
While coffee can boost the effects of your exercise routine and even aid in your post-workout recovery, you should use caution to avoid potential side effects.
- You should keep the amount of caffeine that you consume within reason. The optimal amount is between 300 and 400 mg per day. That translates to about 16 ounces of coffee for an adult weighing 150 pounds.
- Do not load your coffee down with lots of cream or sugar that add unwanted fat and calories. Try flavoring your coffee with cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice. Instead of cream, try skim milk, soy milk, or almond milk. You can also try incorporating the coffee into smoothies or other nutrient-rich dishes.
- Water should still be your go-to beverage for preventing dehydration.
- Try to keep your coffee consumption consistent. Caffeine is a natural diuretic; however, keeping your intake consistent will allow the body to adjust and help prevent dehydration.
- Avoid drinking coffee within 6 hours of bedtime to keep it from disturbing your sleep.
Important Things to Remember About Caffeine Consumption
Certain substances found in coffee have been linked to an increase in serum cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease in those with a certain genetic mutation. It can also increase blood pressure, which may be dangerous for individuals with uncontrolled or unstable hypertension. If you have a personal or family history of these conditions, you should consult your doctor to find out if it is advisable for you to consume caffeine.
Caffeine tolerance can vary widely from person to person. Individuals who are particularly sensitive to caffeine may experience headaches, stomach upset, anxiety, irritability, and even an irregular heart beat with even a low to moderate amount of caffeine. If you experience unpleasant side effects, you should not force yourself to drink coffee simply to increase the effects of your workout. You should also avoid combining caffeine with other types of stimulants since this can intensify its effects.