We all want to get better performance in the gym, make our workouts more efficient, and get better results. Because of this, there is now a huge sports nutrition industry, and a lot of stimulating supplements are sold to fitness fans who want to improve their performance and bring their A-game to the gym every time.
However, you might not need to rush to the nearby sports supplement store for pre-workout since you most likely already have a fantastic energizing workout aid in your pantry. The energizing properties of coffee can keep you alert and energized throughout a workout. Here are some things you should know about your morning coffee and how it can make you a better athlete both inside and outside of the gym.
Coffee can benefit your fitness in 4 different ways.
Energy and stamina
Caffeine, the primary stimulant in coffee, works by preventing the neurochemical adenosine from binding to receptors. Because adenosine can slow down your nervous system and make you sleepy, caffeine can help fight this "depressant" effect and wake you up. Caffeine is classified as a stimulant because of the resulting energizing effect! Because of this, athletes often use coffee as an ergogenic aid to give them more energy and help them do better in sports.
Coffee may also aid in athletic endurance! Researchers have found that caffeine consumption is often positively correlated with increased endurance and/or decreased perception of exhaustion in a variety of athletic activities, including running and cycling. One theory proposes that caffeine in coffee stimulates your central nervous system, reducing the amount of pain you may experience post-workout.
Aids in fat burning
Using a caffeinated pre-workout aid could also be good news if you’re looking to lose body fat. While drinking coffee on its own isn’t going to help “burn fat,” caffeine can help speed up your rate of fat oxidation, or the process in which fatty acids are broken down, in response to the right diet and exercise regimen. A study found that people who took 3 mg of caffeine in the morning and then worked out later burned 29% more fat in the afternoon and 10.7% more fat in the morning.
So, if you like to work out in the middle of the day while drinking coffee in the afternoon, you may be able to get the most out of these fat-burning benefits!
Aids in recovery
Aside from making you more focused and giving you more energy, coffee can also help your muscles recover after a workout, which could lead to gains. In general, your body uses glucose (or broken-down carbohydrates) in your blood as fuel. However, under certain conditions, such as high-intensity exercise, your body may draw on glycogen stores, a type of glucose stored in your muscles. When your glycogen stores are depleted, you must replenish them as part of your muscle recovery process.
Caffeine may help speed up this process, according to research. After exhaustive exercise, one study compared the rate of glycogen resynthesis between a study group that ate only carbohydrates and a group that ate carbohydrates and caffeine. The researchers discovered that the group that consumed both carbohydrates and caffeine in their post-workout recovery meals experienced a 66% higher rate of resynthesis than the group that consumed only carbohydrates!
Is it possible to drink too much coffee?
While coffee can be beneficial to your fitness routine and overall health, it also has some potential drawbacks.
Caffeine, for example, can raise blood pressure, which can be especially dangerous for people who already have hypertension.
Cortisol levels, also known as the "stress hormone," may be affected. One study, for example, discovered that cortisol levels increased in both men and women after consuming caffeine. Unfortunately, elevated cortisol levels have been linked to problems such as decreased insulin secretion and larger midsection measurements.
Excessive caffeine consumption also causes anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and tachycardia (rapid heart rate). Some people may also experience gastrointestinal discomfort as a result of coffee consumption, particularly at higher caffeine doses.
How to Use Coffee to Improve Athletic Performance
Watch the additions
Coffee is quite bitter on its own, so other ingredients such as sugar, syrups, artificial sweeteners, and milk are commonly added to mellow out the flavor and make it more palatable. Unfortunately, those additions come with additional simple sugars, calories, and/or dietary fat, which you may not want if you're aiming for physique goals such as fat loss. This is also a major reason why, despite their caffeine content, sugary beverages like soda are rarely recommended as a supplement for improving athletic performance!
Consume the appropriate portion
Caffeine, like everything else in your diet, should be consumed in moderation, especially because it can have such noticeable side effects. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends 3-6 mg/kg of caffeine for improving athletic performance. For the best results, an adult male weighing 180 lbs (82 kg) should consume between 246-492 mg of caffeine (or approximately 2-5 cups of coffee).
Also, if you aren't used to consuming caffeine, proceed with caution. Until you understand how caffeine affects your body, start with small amounts, such as one cup of coffee, before adding more (if necessary) to your diet. It's also a good idea to consult a nutritionist or a medical professional for more information on the appropriate caffeine dosage to support your goals.
Caffeine should be avoided close to bedtime.
Caffeine consumption, due to its stimulating effect, can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Caffeine elimination can take hours (half-life up to 9.5 hours for some people!). If you find that your late-day pre-workout coffee is interfering with your sleep cycle, try drinking it earlier in the day to give your body enough time to get rid of the stimulant before bedtime.
Coffee can be a useful tool for boosting your workouts, but moderation is key. Add a cup of coffee or two to your pre-workout routine to see how far it can take you!