Coffee: Does It Help or Hurt Your Workouts?
At your gym, you’ve probably noticed guys with a wide variety of drinks—creatine, pre-workout, BCAA powder. Their goals may differ (i.e. muscle stimulation or a boost of energy), but one thing remains clear—they need the right drink to help fuel their workouts. However, there’s one drink that’s 100% natural and could provide just as much as energy—coffee.
Surely, you’ve seen a guy in the weight room with a Venti coffee from Starbucks and rolled your eyes at him. But that guy was on to something.
Caffeine is good for you?
For decades, caffeine has been pegged as an unhealthy and addictive ingredient in sugary sodas or drinks. But increasingly, exercise science has unearthed its health potential. A 2017 article from The New York Times reveals its benefits: “Taken an hour or so before exercise, it also enables most athletes to run, bike, swim or otherwise perform a little faster or more vigorously than if they do not have caffeine first.” In other words, your morning cup of joe can do just as much for your gym session as a branded pre-workout.
The benefits of coffee
Aside from all-around boosting your performance, there are a few other desirable benefits from coffee:
- Increased fat loss—Caffeine naturally increases your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories not only during your workout but all throughout the day.
- Appetite suppressant—That’s right; caffeine can also help reduce those cravings that lead you to snack and exceed your macros.
- Better focus—If you take your coffee black, it can boost your mental focus, keeping your workouts on track and helping you avoid any unnecessary distractions.
- Less pain—Science has proven that coffee enables you to workout harder with less muscle pain afterward. Harder workouts and better recovery? Sounds like a win-win.
- Disease prevention—Several studies have also linked coffee consumption to a reduction in the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes. The burst of antioxidants helps fight free radicals in the body. So, coffee isn’t just helping you in the moment; it’s also benefitting your long-term health.
A few coffee guidelines
Though coffee has many benefits, this isn’t a free pass to start every morning with a loaded Frappuccino. The type of coffee you consume and the timing of your consumption matter.
For best results, take it black. The more milk, sugar, and other additives you toss in there, the less potent your coffee will be. All that other junk also adds calories. If you’re aren’t keen on the taste of black coffee, look for blends with natural flavorful notes like chocolate. And if you absolutely need some type of flavor boost, try a dash of skim milk.
Concerning consumption, try to have it about an hour before your workout. You’ll reach peak stimulation about 30-75 minutes later. Try not to drink too much—excessive consumption can lead to dehydration.
Also, if you work out at night, you might need an alternative boost. Coffee stays in your system for up to 6 hours. You’ll get a great workout, but a good night’s sleep might be out of the question.
All in all, coffee is a great, affordable, and natural stimulant that can help you push your workouts to the next level. Just don’t overload it—save that for the squat rack.