Before you begin your work out, you want to make sure that you properly fuel your body. Whether it’s with food, water, or other beverages, what we consume can affect our endurance and overall performance. Though coffee may provide energy throughout our workday, how can it affect our workout? Drinking coffee before a workout can assist with mental and physical energy levels. The high content of polyphenols within coffee can help with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection and blood sugar balance. These are all important when it comes to our exercise performance and especially our post-exercise recovery and tissue repair. Along with polyphenols, the caffeine we get in coffee has performance-enhancing properties. In a comprehensive review of caffeine and exercise, researchers analyzed 4,800 people across 300 studies. They revealed that exercise performance increased by 16% when participants drank caffeine before a workout. The stimulation effects of caffeine have also been shown to help burn body fat.
Caffeine takes about half an hour to start working to boost energy levels, so depending on your workout duration, you can ‘time’ when you want to exert yourself. For shorter exercises, drink your coffee right before your workout. For longer workouts like endurance exercises, save your coffee for the last hour as the final stretch of an endurance run or long bike ride is when you’ll probably want a boost. Just be aware of how coffee affects you. If a cup of coffee in the morning generally makes you run to the bathroom, it might not be conducive to have before a cardio session. Drinking cold coffee instead of hot coffee may be better, though, as hot liquids may promote intestinal motility and encourage a trip to the loo. Your tolerance level may differ from others, so first, try to experiment with your coffee from 15 to 45 minutes before exercise. Depending on how strong the coffee is, a typical cup of coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine, but that number could even be double. The caffeine and its associated polyphenols will give you a boost for about two to four hours. However, the exact timing does depend on your body’s ability to metabolize caffeine. One study found that those who drank 4.5 milligrams of caffeine per kilo of their body weight saw a 15% improvement in their performance. For example, a 150-pound person should consume 285 milligrams, that’s about two cups of coffee; even if you’re a heavy coffee drinker, research says that doesn’t change caffeine’s positive effects on athletics.
While some may believe that coffee can lead to dehydration during a workout, as long as you’re correctly drinking water, you should be fine. Drinking too much coffee may lead to potential side-effects, like over-caffeination, you begin to see the adverse side effects. These effects can include high tension or anxiety, heart palpitations, an upset stomach from increased acid production, and cortisol. But if you’re doing a workout in the evening, stop drinking coffee at least four hours before bed to avoid sleep disturbances.