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9 Main Benefits of Drinking Coffee Before a Workout

Women lifting barbell in gym

We all get that sluggish feeling when the time comes to go to the gym or work out. This is especially true if you work long days and feel drained. To combat this, people often turn to pre-workout shakes or energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster. Unfortunately, those are often full of unhealthy ingredients, even if they do give you an energy boost. But what about the benefits of drinking coffee before a workout?

A coffee before a workout might sound strange, but if it can give you an energy boost and enhance your training, why would you say no to this healthier alternative? It might not be for everyone, as drinking a hot cup of coffee might leave you feeling bloated or bring on indigestion, but there are ways around this too. With iced coffees or espresso shots for example.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of drinking coffee before a workout and why it should be a part of your routine.

Don’t forget to check out this article – Is decaf coffee is bad for you?

Why is Coffee a Good Pre-Workout Drink?

We are sure you’ve seen people holding a cup of Starbucks coffee while walking into the gym, or sipping a cup of joe before a spin class. They aren’t crazy, they probably know the benefits of coffee before workout. 

Here are 7 reasons why coffee is a good pre-workout drink.

1. Coffee Helps in Burning Fat and Enhancing Energy

The good thing about consuming coffee first thing in the morning is that the caffeine in coffee helps suppress the appetite, and it significantly contributes to burning fats a lot faster during exercise. 

To get the best result of coffee consumption for fat burning, the recommended caffeine intake should be around 5mg to 6mg for every kilogram of body weight. The average mg of a cup of coffee is from 95mg to 100mg. In case that you’re not a coffee drinker, you can start off by measuring about 2mg to 3mg of caffeine for every kilogram of body weight. 

Once you consume coffee and the caffeine enters your bloodstream, your body will respond in a lot of different ways. The first thing that will happen is that your blood pressure and heart rate will increase. Then the fat stored in your system gets broken down. This is what leads to an extra boost in energy and can boost your performance.

2. The Caffeine Found in Coffee Increases the Metabolic Rate

Research shows that consuming coffee is linked to a significant boost in metabolic rate, and this continues for hours. Caffeine really helps in increasing metabolism. One thing about coffee is that it reacts just like any other drug. This means that consuming more than what is recommended is counterproductive. 

You only need small doses of caffeine to achieve great results. Keep in mind that when it comes to coffee, more is not always better. So don’t go drinking 7 espressos before your workout to get a boost, but seriously, don’t do that for health reasons either!

3. Drinking Coffee Before Exercise Enhances Workout Performance

When the coffee is consumed in small amounts, the effectiveness of caffeine in enhancing workout performance is much greater this is according to the International Society of Sports and Nutrition. 

Even if you already are an avid coffee drinker, when you drink coffee before a workout, you’ll notice a difference in workout performance.

Did you know that caffeine helps athletes train longer and aids in providing better power output? Research shows that people, specifically athletes, gained more energy and had a positive experience when working out when they consumed coffee versus when they didn’t.

You could even test this yourself. Over a period of 2 weeks, do a workout with coffee then the next day one without, keep repeating different workouts and note down which ones you performed better in.  

4. Coffee Aids in Improving Your Focus During a Workout Routine

Who doesn’t want to have better focus whenever doing a workout routine, right? Another great reason why you should consume coffee before a workout is that caffeine in coffee has demonstrated an improved mental focus. 

Studies have shown that caffeine is a good natural stimulant for improved brain function. It offers better connections and improvements in areas of the brain that are responsible for concentration and memory. 

Another great fact about coffee is that it reduces the chances of getting age-related mental degradation. So, combine that with healthy workouts and you are keeping your body and very healthy.

5. Caffeine Can Improve Your Speed

According to this article, caffeine has been researched and noted to improve speed in performance. There was an in-depth study on a group of athletes which looked at speed, oxygen, and other various factors, including placebo controls in the study. 

The final results stated – The estimated combined effect size of 0.41 [0.15–0.68] demonstrates a faster exercise speed after ingesting caffeine compared to placebo (P = 0.002).

As one of the benefits of drinking coffee before a workout, this could be useful for those who enjoy running and can’t seem to beat their PB. It is worth noting that it depends on the amount of caffeine consumed. Drinking coffee alone might not have this effect, and perhaps a caffeine supplement would have a more direct result.

This also leads to the next point…

6. It Can Help to Reduce Burnout and Exhaustion

Based on the same research mentioned above, oxygen levels of the subjects appeared to remain higher in those that had caffeine. This would lead to a conclusion that consuming caffeine can help the body workout for longer without reaching exhaustion,

Exactly how long that could be would vary between every person and the type of workout done. But nevertheless, if you reach exhaustion easily, try to consume some more caffeine and see if it helps.

7. Coffee Helps in Minimizing Muscle Pain

We have all woke up the next day after a heavy workout with the feeling of having just gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.  Well, you probably didn’t stretch enough too, or you didn’t consume any coffee. Yes! You heard it right, coffee actually helps in reducing muscle pain. 

A small study consisting of both male and female participants who consumed coffee before an intense workout experienced a notable decrease in post-workout soreness, and they were able to complete more repetitions in their workout set. 

This could be varied depending on the person, the type of workout, and body, and many other factors. So make sure you don’t replace stretching and important cool-downs with a coffee, because it is likely to help as a small aid rather than eliminating muscle soreness.

8. The Caffeine in Coffee Promotes Faster Workout Recovery

A study from the Journal of Pain found that drinking coffee 24 to 48 hours after doing a workout significantly reduces post-workout pain. What happens to your body after a good workout is that the muscles in the body swell, which is important to improve body performance. 

Although inflammation is necessary to improve your body for a workout, excess inflammation will sow down workout recovery. 

Coffee is known to carry a lot of antioxidants and the antioxidants in coffee play a major role in clearing out some post-workout inflammation, according to Kelly Pritchett, a sports dietician and an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise science at Central Washington University. 

9. Drinking Coffee Prevents Certain Diseases

Ok, this is more of a general benefit, but if you prevent diseases, your body will stay in top shape so you can enjoy workouts for longer! One of the leading causes of health degradation and disease is the presence of free radicals in the environment that affects the body. With the powerful antioxidants present in coffee, it’s known to remove the free radicals that cause inflammation in the body. 

Antioxidants present in coffee are linked to reduce and prevent certain diseases like Parkinson’s disease and lowers the risk of certain cancers. 

The Ideal Number of Cups of Coffee Before Exercise

The recommended caffeine consumption in a day is 5mg to 6mg per kilogram of body weight. This is the ideal number to maximize the benefits of exercising. This does depend on your body and the type of exercise/workout you are doing too.

For example, if you consume a cup of coffee to help supplement a 40-minute run, and it works, a cup of coffee for a half-marathon would not have the same effect. It’s going to take some trial and error to get used to what your body wants.

Although, this guide is not recommended for people who don’t have sensitive stomachs. If you can’t drink high amounts of coffee, then it’s best you stick to a smaller dose of caffeine or a smaller coffee such as an espresso.

When Should You Drink Coffee Before a Workout?

The best time to drink coffee before a workout is 1 hour. This gives the body enough time to consume the drink and start absorbing the essential ingredients for the body to use. If you drink it just before, you could get indigestion and won’t get the effects. Drink it too early, and the effects would wear off by the time you work out.

This might change depending on when you work out. For example, if you work out at 10 pm at night, having a coffee at 9 pm might keep you up at night and start leading to insomnia issues. You would have to test out what time works best for your body when it’s late at night. Or shift your routine to work out earlier.

Is Coffee Before the Gym a Good Routine?

Coffee before the gym is a good routine because the caffeine present in coffee is a great stimulant that activates the brain, heart, and body positively. The caffeine helps your body to push harder during a workout session, says Heidi Skotnik, a sports nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Conditioning Inc. 

It all depends on the person though, as we keep saying. Drinking coffee before you exercise might give you an energy boost, but you might not enjoy working out on a stomach full of coffee. There are many different variables but you should test out what works for you and discover the benefits of drinking coffee before a workout for yourself.

When Is It Bad to Drink Coffee Before Working Out?

As mentioned above, it can be bad to drink coffee before working out when you have sensitivity to caffeine or coffee, when it doesn’t feel good for you, or if you are working out late at night. The benefits outweigh the negatives, but you should still always be aware that it could irritate your body more than help it.

This is especially true for those who suffer from frequent heartburn and indigestion, also GERD. Drinking coffee is a trigger for these conditions and exercise is also a trigger, so combining them together is obviously not going to work well. 

If you are concerned about the effects it can have on your body, talk with a medical professional or try it in small doses and work your way up.

Key Summary

As you have read, there are many benefits of drinking coffee before a workout. This includes improved focus, increased fat burning, and more energy. Next time you are planning a workout, try a cup of coffee 1 hour before you exercise and see if you notice the difference.

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