Caffeine and physical performance: Is it better to drink coffee before going to the gym?
07/01/2021 / By Brocky Wilson / Comments
Caffeine and physical performance: Is it better to drink coffee before going to the gym?

Drinking a cup of coffee before hitting the gym seems like the perfect way to get through a sluggish morning. After all, coffee gives your brain a boost and can help wake you up. But what does science actually say about drinking coffee before working out?

Caffeine boosts athletic performance and helps burn more fat, studies show

It turns out, drinking coffee before exercising can make your workouts more effective. In particular, studies show that coffee can boost your physical performance and make you burn more fat.

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Those fitness benefits are all thanks to caffeine, a natural stimulant found in coffee beans, tea and cacao. One study found that consuming caffeine before hitting the gym increases exercise performance by two to 16 percent.

Researchers found the largest increases in people strongly affected by caffeine. They reported that average increases fell somewhere between two and six percent. While these improvements may not sound like much, they could still give you the boost you need to last longer in the gym.

Another study suggested that consuming caffeine before exercise can also make you burn more body fat. Researchers explained that caffeine increases the production of a protein that makes your body rapidly turn fat into heat.

Both of those benefits are related to caffeine’s effect on sleepiness. Caffeine binds to the same receptors as the chemical adenosine, which is responsible for making you feel tired. As such, drinking coffee reduces the number of receptors adenosine can bind to.

Because of this, you’re bound to feel less sleepy and more mentally alert after you drink coffee. In addition, caffeine can trick you into feeling like you’re not exerting yourself as much as you would otherwise. But does heavy consumption of coffee weaken caffeine’s positive effects on athletics?

In a study, low, moderate and high caffeine drinkers rode the bicycle after drinking a caffeinated drink. All of the participants saw a comparable degree of improvement in their cycling performance. This shows that you can be a heavy coffee drinker and still enjoy the fitness benefits of caffeine.

When to drink coffee before working out

Drinking coffee an hour before working out gives your body time to absorb caffeine and allows the chemical to reach its peak effectiveness. Most studies that looked into the effect of caffeine on exercise also used a 60-minute window.

As for the amount of coffee you should drink, research suggests that consuming 4.5 to six milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight is enough to enhance your exercise performance. If you’re around 140 pounds, for example, drink a 16- to 20-ounce cup of coffee to maximize caffeine’s benefits.

More tips to boost your athletic performance

Increasing your athletic performance means boosting your strength, endurance and energy. Doing so can make you last longer in the gym and improve your fitness considerably.

Here are more diet tips that can help increase your physical performance besides drinking coffee:

  • Eat slow-digesting foods before a workout. A study found that athletes who ate slow-digesting carbs for breakfast and lunch burned more fat during the day and had higher endurance than those who ate fast-digesting carbs. Foods that take longer to digest include fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Avoid high-fat meals. Eating a high-fat meal reduces blood flow to your muscles. Refrain from eating high-fat foods for up to four hours before hitting the gym.
  • Eat a green salad before going to the gym. Research shows that consuming a serving of green salad with your last whole meal helps keep your blood pumping normally.
  • Take arginine. Studies suggest that taking arginine supplements for eight weeks can increase your endurance and strength when doing bench presses. When taking arginine supplements, give yourself 30 to 45 minutes before working out.
  • Add cocoa extract to your protein shake. A flavonoid in cocoa helps increase blood flow to your muscles.
  • Avoid a very low-cholesterol diet. A study found that older adults who ate a diet high in cholesterol while weight training for 12 weeks gained 55 percent more strength compared to those on a low-cholesterol diet.
  • Drink tea. Tea is also a rich source of caffeine.

Caffeine makes coffee a great energizing drink. It improves your athletic performance, helps you burn more fat and keeps you mentally alert. Drink coffee before working out and try the tips listed above to improve your fitness.

Sources:

MindBodyGreen.com

Nature.com

Journals.Physiology.org

MuscleAndFitness.com

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