How Coffee Can Impact Exercise Performance
This Monday is International Coffee Day! It’s no secret that here at Neat, we all love our daily cup (or four) of coffee, and it turns out we’re not alone - it’s the most popular drink worldwide, with around two billion cups consumed every day. In the UK alone, we drink approximately 95 million cups of coffee per day!
Due to its high caffeine content coffee often gets a bad rep, but drank in moderation, actually has a whole host of health benefits, and is also a great alternative to those luminous, pre-workout supplements you often see people chugging in the gym…
So, what are the benefits of drinking coffee?
Well, to start with, it’s packed full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to prevent cell damage caused by free radicals (called oxidants) which can be found both in your environment, as well as being naturally produced in your body. If you have too many of these oxidants in your body, they can cause contribute to certain diseases and even cancers.
Coffee has also been shown to help prevent many age-related medical issues, such as Alzheimer’s, and has even been linked to reducing your risk of dying prematurely (Time Magazine. Coffee: The Latest Antidote To Aging).
When it comes to coffee’s impact on sporting performance, its caffeine content increases alertness and arousal. Your muscles use glycogen for energy in the first instance, but when these stores run out, your muscles will become weaker and less efficient – usually about the time you collapse on the floor in a sweaty heap. However, when your muscles burn fat instead, they don’t burn out so easily, and caffeine can help shift muscles to burn fat more quickly, preserving glycogen stores and meaning you can have a less painful workout.
A 2017 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology even showed that consuming caffeine helped cyclists pedal harder and faster in comparison to the control group, who had not consumed caffeine.
So, if you want to run further or lift longer and harder, a pre-workout espresso could be just what you need to give your performance the edge.
How much should you take?
We’d recommend trying the equivalent of a double espresso about 45-60 minutes before your workout, however, the effects will range between individuals. It’s best to start slow, as too much caffeine could cause headaches and spike your blood pressure. See if the buzz helps you power through your workout more easily and feel less fatigue, before adjusting amounts and timing accordingly.