Coffee and Exercise: 5 Reasons You Should Drink Coffee Before Working Out
If you follow a healthy lifestyle, like me, you might wonder whether coffee is something that should be a part of your diet with so many myths out there. While it’s a great pick-me-up, it’s not always good for you – but as with everything else, it has a time and a place. You might be surprised to find out that coffee has several benefits for your workout. In fact, there are a lot of reasons why coffee and exercise are made to be together.
Exercise: better than drugs
Exercise in itself is one of the best things that you can do for your health (the other being healthy eating). It’s cheaper and more effective than most medicines, and they say that prevention is better than a cure.
Just 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 times a week can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer, and just generally reduce the risk of death! You can get the benefits of a fuller, happier life immediately – exercise boosts mood, sleep quality and energy, and all you have to do to get it is to walk briskly.
However, more vigorous activity is even more effective, particularly if you want to lose weight. I’m a big fan of getting my frustrations out and challenging myself in a tough routine at the gym. Coffee is one way to help you to be more productive during a workout.
Coffee: actually a drug
Coffee is one of the world’s favourite drinks, and it’s no wonder when you consider how awake and alert it can make you feel. It’s a quick fix to make you ready for work in the morning. As you may know, coffee works because it contains caffeine, a drug (which is why it should be drunk in moderation).
Caffeine affects your body in many ways. The main one is that it blocks a chemical called adenosine that makes you sleepy. In turn, this causes more dopamine (the happy chemical) to be released, increasing your mood. Caffeine also increases adrenaline in the bloodstream and improves memory. Some studies suggest it might even decrease appetite.
Coffee is a healthier source of caffeine than energy drinks, which usually contain sugar and other additives. Black coffee has almost no calories (and most people think it tastes better!). You can add a bit of soy milk for protein if you want to, but you’re in control of what’s in your cup.
Supercharge your performance
Exercise is awesome, and coffee’s great, too. So, combine them together, and you’ve got a recipe for unlocking your exercise potential. It can:
- Improve your circulation
- Decrease pain
- Improve your memory
- Give your muscles more fuel
- Make you happier while you work out
Let’s see more about why that’s great for your workout.
1) Better circulation
Blood flow is what you want to achieve in the gym, but getting a head start is only going to help you. The better your circulation, the more oxygen can travel around your body, giving your muscles the ingredients they need to push harder.
Research in Japan showed that a cup of coffee before working out can improve blood flow. When your body is prepared for exercise, it means you can work harder and get more benefits from it.
2) Less pain
A hard workout is a tough workout – no pain, no gain – but coffee can take the edge off the worst of it. The dopamine that’s released when you drink coffee affects your pain receptors, so you feel less pain. This is good news for strength training, as it means you can do more without even realising; and you get a faster improvement for the same amount of time in the gym.
3) Better memory
Your brain is probably not the first thing you think about when working out, but it’s what keeps you motivated and focused. You’d have trouble remembering your routine without it, too. If you’ve ever wandered over to the weights while trying to figure out what day it is, then realised you need to be on the treadmill, you know why a focused brain and a better memory is important. Coffee sharpens your brain, so you won’t forget a single exercise from your list.
4) More muscle fuel
This one is practically a no-brainer: more fuel, more energy that can go into your workout – at the start, and the whole way through. Coffee makes sure you don’t get tired as quickly, not just this time round, but for next time, too. Add a cup of it to your post-exercise snack to better restock your muscles’ energy stores of the glycogen they need to make sure you can go harder and longer when you next exercise, too.
5) A happier workout
That dopamine I mentioned is good for all kinds of things. It’s called the happy chemical, so the more you have, the happier it’s going to make you feel. If you’re in a positive mood for your workout, you’re going to enjoy it more and push yourself while you’re doing it – another fantastic benefit of coffee.
Less is more
Don’t let these awesome reasons for drinking coffee make you overindulge, though. The best part about all of this is that you don’t even need to drink very much coffee to get the best results. These effects are best achieved on around two cups of instant coffee, about an hour before exercising. This allows you to avoid the side-effects of too much caffeine – you know, those headaches and needing the loo – while still boosting your workout.
Of course, how much you’ll need will vary a bit based on your weight and your sensitivity to caffeine, and if you drink too much coffee on a regular basis you could find that you don’t notice much of a difference in your performance, since your body adapts to the amount, and doesn’t notice it anymore.
The most important thing to remember is to be sensible with when and how much you drink your coffee. Your main drink throughout the day should still be water. You have to stay hydrated to stay healthy and to have a great workout. If you normally exercise in the evenings, you should skip the coffee so it doesn’t affect your sleep, which is more important than a boost in the gym. The latest time you should drink coffee is around lunchtime, so it’s out of your system in plenty of time for bed.
Pushing yourself to your limits gets you more out of your workout, and proves to yourself exactly what you’re capable of. It’s empowering and enjoyable. There are various ways you can motivate yourself to work hard, and coffee is another little helper you can use, as long as you’re sensible.
Keep challenging yourself.
This is a guest article by Rudy Caretti, Founder of Gimoka Coffee UK and G Coffee Pod.